Easter basket tradition…

The running joke at our house lately is that Halllie will soon be moving on and as such we’re having a lot of “Lasts” (Even though we all know better – kids always seem to make their way home ever after they’ve moved away!)

Yesterday, Easter, as we were taking our traditional Easter basket pictures, the boys were joking about next years picture with only four people. Hallie is looking to serve a mission for our church and it is likely she won’t be around next Easter. It made me start to think of all the years we’ve taken photos with these same baskets.

Hunter was just a baby when I started this tradition and our family continued to grow over the years – we’re now starting the decline of kids living at home and our picture will get smaller and smaller. 🙂

Bennett was born just two days after this picture of Hallie and Hunter – which is why the next year he wasn’t a very little baby!

Easter 2024…

Today was a cold and rainy Easter – not something we’ve seen since moving to Arizona years ago but I had flashbacks to our snowy Wisconsin Easter celebrations.

We had a fully loaded crepe breakfast before heading off to church. Our church services were full of beautiful testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ through song and word and it was lovely on all accounts. (Hallie, Hunter and Bennett even participated in one of the musical numbers!) In an effort to make this holiday a little more special, we spent the week focused on different aspects of Holy Week, watched inspiring videos and messages, attended the Easter Pageant at the Mesa Temple and listened to inspirational music. I am grateful for the additional focus and how it impacted my worship and gratitude for Jesus Christ as we celebrated Easter today.

I wanted to take our annual Easter pictures after church while we were all dressed in our Sunday best but it was rainy and miserable and not worth the struggle and I think all the kids were a little surprised I was willing to give it up so quickly. A casual picture will have to do this year!

Luckily, the rain cleared (although it was still rather cold for an Arizona spring) by the time we gathered with family for dinner and the egg hunt was able to continue as planned. The teenagers hid eggs for the younger kids in the backyard and the adults hid eggs for the teenagers in the front yard. I’m realizing you’re never too old to enjoy a challenging egg hunt – especially when some of the eggs contain money!

I’m grateful for friends who carry on traditions for us and that includes coloring eggs – something I gave up many years ago but we enjoy with friends each year. I’m not even sure many people still hide real eggs but they sure are fun to decorate.

Valentine’s day 2024…

I walked in the door late last night with Hallie and Steve after having been gone the whole evening. I was surprised to find the kitchen had been decorated for Valentine’s day. (I’ll be honest, the idea of decorating the kitchen crossed my mind earlier that day but I hadn’t pulled anything out. I’m sure I would have remembered as I lay in bed that night trying to fall asleep long past midnight!)

Hunter was the only one up by the time we got home and I quickly confirmed he was responsible for pulling everything out from storage and setting it up. I was so grateful for his small but very perceptive action. We have decorated the night before Valentine’s since the time he was little and I appreciated him stepping up because I’m sure he’s somewhat outgrown the tradition but he knew it would be important to the younger kids.

The last couple years, Hallie has made homemade cards for all of us and she pulled through another year for us so I just had to put out drinks and candy.

Cannon and Briggs made their class valentine’s but neither needed to bring a box in this year (both of their teachers decided on decorated paper bags). Cannon kept his Lego creation from last year and was hoping to get another year of use out of it but it looks like he’ll have to save it for another year.

Several years ago when Briggs was just a baby we took the family out to Red Robin for Valentine’s dinner. (We’ve done several different restaurants on this holiday but they only talk about this one.) Every year since they’ve talked about the Red Robin “tradition” that happened one time.

We opted for a family dinner at Red Robin tonight knowing very well they will speak of this tradition for years to come. 🙂

Happy wall 2023…

I finally took the Christmas cards down today and it may be the record for the longest we’ve kept them up. And as much as it kills me to take them down, the kitchen always looks a little cleaner after they all come down.

Our “happy wall” is such a great reminder of how grateful we are for our friends and family near and far.

My favorite Christmas gift…

Christmas has long been put away (except for the Christmas cards on the fridge of course) but there’s one gift I’m still in awe of and think about daily and that is a gift Steve gave me.

There was a small card on the tree with the letter K on it. When I opened it Christmas morning, it was a clue and I ran around the house trying to figure out where the clue led. Eventually, I ended up in the game room and I could see a video was cued up to play on the tv.

I sat down as all the kids and Steve filed into the room and made themselves comfortable on the couches. On the tv was Steve talking to me. He spoke of a secret project he’s been working on for a long time and this video was a culmination of all his efforts. The secret project was him learning to play (on the piano) our wedding song my brother wrote for us 20 years ago.

I was in shock and emotional.

For the record, Steve doesn’t play the piano. But the video chronicled his journey of taking piano lessons outside our home and then practicing every time I left the home to drive soccer or had meetings at the school. The kids were all in on it – they all knew what was going on and I was clueless.

Hallie helped by compiling the video together and she did an amazing job. She took all the videos Steve had filmed while learning to play and then told a beautiful story of his humor and wit and lack of musical ability. 🙂 She captured his diligence and efforts and even frustrations. It was beautiful and so moving and I’d share it if it wasn’t so vulnerable for him.

Even as I write it about it now, it still makes me emotional. It was the most tender and meaningful Christmas gift I’ve ever received. He showed me love in a way I hadn’t witnessed before and it was touching.

I asked if he was going to keep taking lessons now that the gift has been presented. He didn’t think he wanted to spend the time and money to keep up with lessons, but he still sits down to work through the song a few times a week. I love hearing the song bounce off the walls of our home, it reminds me of our commitment to each other and my love for this special man.

As a sidenote: I think this little project has sparked an interest in Hunter and he’s been sitting down at the piano for probably an hour daily working through songs he’s learning from youtube. Morning and night we hear the latest song he’s trying to master and I love it.

Squirrel love…

The first time I heard the words “squirrel feeder kit” was when Briggs was sitting on Santa’s lap at our neighborhood party. I asked him about it later and he kept talking about the list of 27 things. I had no idea what he was talking about – he just kept repeating, “You know, the 27 list.” After some additional digging I found out the 27 list was a list he gave me of the things he wanted for Christmas. Sandwiched between gum and and candy lower on the list was squirrel feeder kit. He also gave me one of those large toy catalogs and he had circled the feeder kit in the magazine – not sure how I missed that circle on page 72 of 150!

I broke the news to him we don’t have squirrels. He informed me we don’t have any because we don’t leave food out for them…hence the need for the squirrel feeder kit. He really put in some time thinking about this. With this much concern I knew he needed to open this on Christmas.

Just before Christmas a note came home from school. He had written a letter to the classroom elf and wouldn’t you know it, Twix was kind enough to write back. (Evidently this is a continuous letter which is why it starts out the way it does – they have been writing to the elf back and forth)

The excitement on Christmas morning when he ripped the paper and saw his most sought after gift was priceless. Who would’ve thought that much happiness could come from such a simple gift.

When we were done opening gifts, you better believe he immediately got to work – the squirrels could not go another hour without being fed!

Unfortunately, there have been no squirrel sightings – major disappointment. Briggs even insisted we put it in a place where our backyard cameras are so we can hopefully catch a glimpse. I love his energy around this and I really hope we find some success but it’s not looking good. If nothing else, we have a beautiful art project displayed in our back yard.

A quick thank you to Mark Rober and his popular “Squirrel Ninja Course” youtube video for Briggs’ new found interest in the furry little creatures!