Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Holidays with Kids are SO Much More Fun!

Happy Easter!

I'm a little late getting my "cute kid all dressed up for Easter" pictures posted, but at least I'm getting them up now. Yes, this is as good as it gets as far as being all spiffed up. 

That's my boy. Crazy hair, a dirty shirt sleeve from who-knows-what, and a candy in his mouth blocking his smile, but it was the only way I could get him to stand still long enough for me to snap a few pictures. Still, I adore him!

And here are both of my boys looking splendid:

I have always loved holidays, but having a child of my own has taken my excitement about celebrating to a new level. Especially now that Will is old enough to understand some of the traditions and fun activities associated with things like Easter (although I'm still working on helping him understand the deeper meaning of the holiday), I am so excited to introduce him to all the things I loved about Easter so much when I was little.

It didn't take him long to catch the vision of the Easter egg hunt. On Saturday evening we went to a neighbor's house for a party/hunt, and without any prompting, he started picking up eggs and candy and putting them in his basket. Apparently, there is an innate understanding of the value of candy-filled eggs.

On Sunday, when he woke up from his nap, Graham had left a trail of Easter eggs across the backyard leading to his basket of goodies behind the shed.

With every egg that he found, he exclaimed "OH!" with more and more excitement until he could hardly contain himself.

At first, he wanted to eat the candy inside each egg before going on to the next one, but we finally convinced him that he could eat them later and we would save them for him.

Needless to say, he enjoyed himself immensely.

There is something magical about watching my child experiencing something for the first time, especially something that holds so many magical memories from my own childhood.

Of course, he and Daddy had to try out the silly string that was in his basket. Will thought it was fun, as long as it didn't touch him.

We had some of Graham's family over for dinner (which of course I forgot to photograph), and I even made a successful batch of Easter bread (a traditional Russian food). As I was kneading the dough, I told Graham, "this is the kind of cooking that feeds my soul". That's what holidays do for me. They feed my soul with familiar smells, tastes, sights, feelings of love, reminders of things that are important to me. They remind me of where I came from and who I want to be. They give me opportunities to share those traditions with my children. They bring everything full circle.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Glimpse Into the Future

Last weekend, I got a glimpse into what life might be like 10 years from now. For part of the weekend, our family of three instantly became a family of six. Quite the increase! 

We were hosting a few of my brother's kids while he and his wife were out of town. His kids are 9, 8, and 4 (plus a baby, but they took him with them). Add our own two-year-old, and we had our hands full. Actually, we had a grand time making homemade pizza, playing Monopoly, eating pudding dirt cups with gummy worms, and going to Wheeler Farm for a picnic. 

Will LOVED having so many kids around to play with, and in many respects, it was actually easier to have four kids instead of one. Sure it was chaos from time to time (I think three glasses of orange juice were spilled at breakfast), but there is something to be said for having multiple kids to be each other's playmates. The older kids were good at entertaining themselves most of the time, and they did a lot of entertaining of the little ones, too! I didn't quite know what to do with myself when I got to prepare dinner in relative peace while all the kids played in the basement. It was beautiful!

It definitely stretched my mothering abilities though. I think the hardest thing about having so many children is just keeping track of everyone's needs at a given time. Who wanted water? Who wanted grape jelly vs. strawberry? Who still needs to go to the bathroom? Who hasn't brushed their teeth yet? And that's just the superficial stuff. How do make sure that every child feels loved every day and gets real, meaningful interaction with you?

Good thing I've got some time to work up to those challenges.

The best part of the weekend, though, was just watching them love each other so much. Walking around Wheeler Farm, I was touched by images of the kids chasing after one another, Graham giving piggy back rides, and walking in a line of children holding hands. I am at the beginning of all this beautiful chaos, since I only have Will so far. But the chaos of a large family is beautiful. I look forward to expanding our family and having a permanent crew of Harrs running in circles around me.

Until then, I have some great memories of this weekend's glimpse into the future.