Coloring (a few) eggs

Between the coronavirus and the kids being at an age that they barely want to eat dinner with us, I debated on whether to get an egg coloring kit or not this year. But my sentimental self could not resist the purchase. After all, I had spent an hour earlier in the day looking at the little nuggets with wide, excited eyes dipping their eggs into the neon colored vinegar and water mix. They got such a thrill over transforming a dull white egg into a burst of oval color.

Tradition – another reason why I decided that we would do it this year. Maria loves keeping with tradition. She was devastated when I told her that we would not be having Christmas Eve at Aunt Susie’s this past year. Susie thought it would be easier for everybody to come in on the weekend before Christmas Eve since all of the cousins have other families they need to see during that time as well. Maria must’ve said 20 times over how ridiculous the change was and how she liked having things the way they always had been. I knew she would be all in for coloring eggs.  Onthe other hand, Mario could have cared less. He wanted to stay sheltered in his gaming room and not be interrupted with tradition. Heck, he was starting his own tradition – playing eight hours straight of NBA 2K during coronavirus. Tradition somitition. Who cares.

I watch the family across the street with two kids under the age of four. They are constantly walking up and down their driveway, drawing with chalk, helping feed baby dolls. I remember Maria and Mario at those ages – how many times Jon and I would say to ourselves “one day, they will do their own thing and we will not have to watch them every waking minute. ” Life is so strange – that when the moment comes when you get exactly what you wished for so many days on end, you want a piece of the past back. You want them to be by your side asking you to play baby dolls or telling you to watch them do a crazy jump off the bed. Now, I open the door to Mario’s gaming room and see him with his headset on talking trash with his buddies like a complete teenager. I watch Maria talking into her computer with her teacher explaining why she thinks certain questions are relevant to a book they are reading. She sounds like she is in college (and looks it, as well). Where have these babies of mine gone?

Yet, every once in a while, they do make a reappearance. Maria jumps into bed with me and Jon as we are watching TV snuggling up with the both of us. Mario grabs my arm as we walk through the woods and stands as close to me as he did as a toddler. The connection is still strong but in a new way.

We squeezed in 15 minutes to color the eggs yesterday. Mario colored around three of them before he was done. He strategically asked to color the eggs while we were prepping for dinner so that as soon as he started coloring them, he had to go back to start cutting the chicken. Maria did the same amount and lost interest in favor of setting the dinner table (however, she did come back to them later on in the evening).

I had to be happy with 15 minutes. I got a few pictures; albeit, not nearly as cute as the ones from years past where they were standing side-by-side and entrenched in the coloring. But we were all present and in the moment talking about how Mario got such a vibrant green egg and how Maria was able to get a peach one for grandma.

Kids kids and more kids

There is no way I could be the Duggers. Aren’t they the family with 18 or so kids? We agreed to take the neighbors’ three kids on Wednesday night so they could drive an hour away to get a car. Holy cow. Jon and I were ready for two straight days of sleep after three and a half hours with them. And they don’t even need that much oversight. I think it’s just the sheer fact that you know they are all in the house and you have to be on constant alert for fighting or cuts or spilled anything. It’s taxing. We are so glad that they are on our street because its great for M&M to have play mates so close and it’s heart-warming to see them all play so well and so long together (I remember weekends with my girlfriend Beth – we met up at 9 am and didn’t stop until sundown). But after a while, everyone needs a break (except Mario who would play with Quinn for 72 hours straight and still be wired).

Wednesday night entailed dinner, hide-n-seek, cards, spying, superheroes, make believe, barbies (the boys played barbies much to my excitement), and wrestling (the girls won). We didn’t turn on the tv until 9 pm and that was only with the hopes of turning out the lights and getting them tired. It worked for one kid – Maria. The boys played Slinkie on the stairs until our neighbors arrived at 9:30. Jon and I flopped in bed and were snoring within ten minutes.

Today, I went for an early run because we had our Easter Egg Hunt down the street at 10 am. I got home at 9:20 and Sophie and Quinn were in our yard on their bike and scooter by 9:30 ready to go. They now feel completely comfortable just coming on down. At least they still knock. Again, most of me loves that the kids have these close buddies but I also need some alone time with my babies here and there. But you can’t blame them for being excited – it’s the Eater Egg Hunt for heaven’s sake. Rick drove the boys down and I took the girls on their scooters (I refuse to drive to the hunt; it’s tradition to walk every year).


Ri and Sophie cranked it on their scooters. I can’t believe how fast Ri rides and the way she can crouch down on it while riding. She may not have coordination in organized sports but she can rock it out on scooters, rock climbing, and trampolines.

As always, I wanted my annual Easter picture of Ri and Mario and pictures of them with their friends. Ri abided but Mario refused. I had to threaten no play date with Quinn and even then it wasn’t the big Mario smile I love. He hates pictures any more (but he still wants to be famous).





Mario was all about going for the plastic eggs over the Oreos and cookies because I told him the eggs may have money in them. I shouldn’t have even went there with him because he freaked when all he got was candy in the eggs. And he only managed getting four eggs out of the mix. I don’t understand how that happened with his speedy self. Ri could care less about the entire ordeal – she’s just in it to have fun with her friends (and lift them off the ground with every hug).

After the hunt, the boys went back with Rick to play Skylanders and my active girls came with me to Stauf’s and CVS. While at CVS, the girls wanted to get a $15 cat house for Sophie’s cat, Lemon. I told Ri she could use her money if she wanted. With Mario, there would have been no way but Ri bought it. She is such a generous soul. They went home and shot into Sophie’s house to see how Lemon would like it. When they shot in, the boys shot out and headed down to our house with me trailing behind.

Practicing gratitude

I asked Maria and Mario what they were grateful for while we ate dinner tonight. 

Holding the baby chicks at the farm

Maria: eggs (she had just brought some back from Grandma Meg’s and Peepaw’s farm); little grapes (we had found “baby” sized grapes in the bunch of grapes earlier in the evening); and her grandmas (all three of them!).

Mario: for a wonderful night; mom and dad and Ria and Cy (“I miss him, mom”); my grandmas; and the farm. 

Mom: for the bike ride and for 62 degree weather and for our new home.

I try to ask this question every night in order to reinforce how important it is to recognize all the wonderful people and things around us.  As part of my training to be a culture shaping facilitator at the university, we performed an exercise around gratitude.  We were asked to think about how many times through the day we stressed about something or we wallowed in self-pity because we did not have something or we missed someone or we failed to get something done.  Then we were asked to think about all that we did have – be it a home, significant other, health, car to travel in, clothes, friends, etc.  Most of us realized that when all was said and done a great majority of our life was good.  We had a roof over our head, we were able to travel, we had family who loved us, we had a pet who licked us, we fed ourselves three meals a day (if not more); yet, we realized that we tended to focus  a significant amount of our time and energy on the negative things or people in our lives. 

Hence, the idea of practicing gratitude.  Ever since that training, I have consciously made an effort to push myself to be grateful, especially during the times I see myself heading downhill.  And I figure if I can start M&M praciticing it, they will be experts by age 10. 

And it’s not that hard.  Each day, I find myself tripping over a wealth of things and activities and people for which to be grateful.  Tonight, I was grateful for the chilly fall weather that allowed us to throw on our sweatshirts and bike helmets and take a ride to visit our friends.  I love watching M&M head out on their cycles, laughing and talking the entire way to the destination.  Maria sings songs to herself.  Mario points out each animal and flower he sees on the way.  I love seeing the grin on Maria’s face as she turns a corner all by herself and the excitement in Mario’s voice when he spots a squirrel behind a bush.  I try to allow myself to see the world anew like M&M.  When Mario points to the squirrel, I look at the little critter and wonder if he will find a nut, what tree he will choose to climb, how many brothers and sisters he has at home.  When Maria turns that corner, I remember back to riding my back with Beth Ann, my grade school friend, and how thrilling it was to speed up and down our alley. 

M&M keep me practicing gratitude.  It is hard not to practice it when I have them by my side.  Hopefully, our evening ritual will become embodied in them to where they hit the pillow at night and think about all they have to be grateful for in the day that is about to pass under them.  The stars, the night, a warm blanket, sweet dreams….