Expectations

I had such high expectations for my two days off work two weeks ago to be with the babes on their Spring Break. I need to learn to temper those expectations….

Thursday was great. I drove out to the farm with Rocco and Mario to pick up Ri and hang out with the family. Mario watched a scary movie in the back and chimed in to me every 15 minutes with what was going on in the chosen scene. He got two packs of donuts on the trip and surprisingly gave up on eating the last two donuts in the second pack because his stomach hurt. One day he will learn. 

We took our routine hike once we arrived. Through the woods to the vine. We had to cajole Rocco down the path so the kids could swing on the vine; it freaks Rocco out completely to see them swing on it. He jumps on them and then tears into the vine as if its an intruder. It began to sprinkle and then downpour on us as we walked along the creek. The kids asked to stay in the woods and play while we went back to the house. It’s great they are at an age they can do that. When I got back, I grabbed a sweatshirt for Mario to take back to him since the wind was picking up. Before I got to their hide-a-way, they were running through the pasture yelling “mom!” They had gotten scared of the thunder. They still do need the comfort of their mama.

We dove into birthday cake when we got back to celebrate Meg’s birthday and played a mean game of Clue.   

   

  

We took off before the heavy rain since I turn into a nervous nelly if I have to drive in that stuff.  The kids petted Rocco and we played “would you rather” as we drove home. 

Alana and Gio arrived on Friday morning for our big day at Fort Rapids! We got in our suits and packed snacks and waters and jumped in the truck for a day of bliss sliding down big slides and splashing in the lazy river.

  

We arrived to a line of folks waiting to enter. This should have been a sign. When we finally got in, the kids dispersed and I found a couple chairs to sit our things on for the day. I went down a slide by myself and looked around for the kids. I found Mario; he looked dejected. He complained that Gio kept leaving him. I grabbed a tube and he and I stood in line for 30 minutes to get on the black slide – he was finally tall enough to go down it with me. That livened him up. After we finished, we walked over to our chairs to get some snacks. The rest of the crew was standing there. Ri asked “when are we going home?” 

I could have screamed. They’d been begging to head here for a week and within an hour they were asking when we would leave. 

Deep breath. 

I smiled and said through my clenched teeth “not for a while – go have fun.” To their credit, I was rather annoyed with the place, too. They did not have enough tubes so you had to wait for people to give them up. This took forever because everyone knew they would be hard to get so they refused to give them up. Ri and Alana finally got one but then lost it when they had to go to the bathroom. Mario and Gio nabbed one illegally, I believe, but by that time it was no holds barred and I turned a blind eye….

   

   

By the time 5 pm hit, I had to admit that as much as it pained me to have spent the money I spent on tickets for the entire day (until 9 pm), I was ready to go. The kids were, too. So we rounded up our soaken things and headed home for a sleepover. When I asked the kids if they had fun, they yelled “yea!” and I decided to take that answer and run with it. We will forget the whining to come home and remember the joy of the slides. I told them if they thought the waterpark was fun to wait until they went to the Easter Egg hunt the next morning in Grandview. Ri and Mario told Alana and Gio about it and how many eggs were on the ground. Everyone shouted the number of eggs they’d get “10” “20” “100!”

We woke up Saturday morning and drove down to the park at 9:45. 5-7 year olds were right by the 8-10 year olds. Gio wanted to go with the 8 year olds since he’s 8 but Mario wanted Gio to stand next to him in the 7 year old ring. When Gio refused, Mario got irritated. And the irritation only blossomed. 

We spoke on the way down to the park about the $25 egg. Each year, one egg has a $25 savings bond in it. All the kids were predicting that they’d get it. But Mario especially wanted it. So when the hunt began, rather than diving into the eggs and swooping up as many as he could, he stared at them to see if he could see the $25 in one of them. By the time he reached down to pick one up, all the other kids had taken them. He ended up with one egg.

One. 

And that one simply had a mini Milky Way bar in it, a candy bar he hates. It was not pretty. He stomped away from all of us and pouted on the picnic table. Then the woods. I finally was able to get near him and explained to him that all the other kids only got three or four eggs so don’t sweat it.

“I hate Easter and I hate hunts. I never want to do one again!” 

Meanwhile, Ri and her cousins were scarfing down their loot. Mario finally headed back towards them after I allowed him to say a curse word under his breath. Worst mom of the year? He livened up after that word and we ended up having a great morning at the park and eating candy (so it was well worth it).

   

   

And don’t you know when we went to Grandma Ionno’s house the next day, he jumped at the chance to participate in another Easter Egg hunt.  Sometimes you just gotta let the moment ride out and what ends up happening is that it’s all fine in the end.

  

Coloring our Easter eggs

  

34 colors eggs – some with vibrant colors, others with plastic design wrap, others with sunset colors. All cranked out in a two hour time frame on Friday night: the start of Spring Break for Ri and Mario. They were mad I didn’t have more eggs.

Mario got super into the coloring this year. You see the bright pink one on the left? Mario made that one and when I gasped at how bright it was, he lit up. He had a mission to make more bright pink ones. At first I thought this was an act of love and tribute to his mom. Then he said this to Ri as they worked:

“I bet I could sell the hot pink ones for $5.”

Maria just shook her head, and then said: “Mario, these are for our family and friends.” Mario shook his head at what he viewed as an absurd comment. If there’s a possibility to make some cash, why not grab it?!

They set up the kitchen bench against the counter and both stood on it to color their eggs. They placed two chairs behind the bench. They used those as the “break room.” Each one had to take a five minute break to rest. After a couple breaks, Mario didn’t want anymore. He was too into egg coloring. Ri got upset about this decision. 

“Mom, it’s a rule we both agreed to do and he has to abide by it.” Luckily, we were about finished with the coloring so Ri let it go – she’s a stickler about rules. Soon they were playing hospital on the chairs: Ri was scraping the end of a pencil on Mario’s arm to get rid of the poison in him and Mario enjoyed the challenge of not screaming in pain. Weirdos. 

But back to the eggs. I’ve been coloring eggs with the kids since Ri was two. It is one of my favorite traditions with them: first because it’s chill and they get along so well admiring their eggs, and second because I have no artistic ability but somehow I feel I’ve created masterpieces when I dye these eggs fabulous colors. 

   

           

Now the question is how we will eat all of these before they go bad? Egg sandwiches, egg salads, egg sundaes? 

Easter 2014

I love that M&M still want to color Easter eggs. I love that they see magic in a dull white egg popping with color after being lifted from a cup. I love that Mario couldn’t wait to get my attention every twenty seconds in order to show me the newest color he produced on his egg. I love that Ri experiments by placing her egg in every color until it forms a dull brown and instead of getting mad, she just tries again and then lays down and places two dull ones on her eyes like some new age hippy.

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I love these moments together simply absorbing the joys of creating a magnificent yellow egg and a glittering purple one. No worries about finishing homework or responding to email – simply appreciating the beauty of bright pastels. I am going to miss these moments when the kids grow up and no longer have any desire to color eggs with their mom. Instead, they will be out with friends and waking up at noon. But alas, I need to stay in the moment so back to Easter weekend.
We woke Saturday morning to head down Grandview hill to the Easter Egg hunt. There were little, sweet babes dressed up in pastels standing in awe of the live Easter Bunny. I remember Ri and Mario at age 3 and 1 pointing at the Bunny and pulling me over to see him. I remember how excited they were to find eggs and cookies (yes, Grandview puts out sleeves of Oreos) scattered around the park. They still have the excitement in finding eggs – not so much in the Bunny. But I still made them take a picture…
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They have their friends there now and they “hang” with them pre-hunt over pictures with mom.
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It’s a different joy I feel at this age seeing them wrestle and giggle with friends. I’m glad they are establishing friendships and experiencing all the emotions that come with them.
They are both loyal and caring to their friends; they even distributed their Oreos to them (that’s the ultimate sign of friendship at this age).
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We spent an hour at the park after the hunt watching the kids play around and talk to friends. When we finally hit the road, it was the usual combination. Ri and Sophie scootered home with me and Mario drove home with Rick and the boys. Sophie and Ri scootered home with Zach who Ri has known since kindergarten. It’s hilarious to see the boy/girl dynamic at play. Little flirting here, little jabbing there. A lot different then kindergarten.
After we had eaten a majority of the Easter candy at the hunt, we decided it would be best to top it off with some Jeni’s ice cream. Mistake.
Jeni’s is so rich – two dips of that combined with Reese’s and chocolate bunnies led to serious stomach aches. We sat on the bench for a while before walking home.

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We burned off some of the chocolate playing ultimate frisbee. Ri is really good at it. She’s always picked up on the adventure, off-the-beaten path sports. Mario is good, too but Ri has the hand flick down pat.
We woke Sunday morning to two kids at the end of the bed urging us to get up.
“Let’s see if the Easter Bunny came!” As I stated earlier, I do love this age but sometimes it’s annoying at 6:45 am…. Jon and I got up and headed down with them. I had hid the eggs in the house since the kids are too old for Jon to be able to hold them at bay while I go down in the morning to hide them outside. This year, I put $5 and a few $1 bills in the eggs because Mario is much more into money than candy. They hunted the eggs down within four minutes and then sat on the couch looking through their baskets.
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Rocco even scored a rawhide from the Bunny.
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You’d think we would have learned from our mistake at Jeni’s but we didn’t. Ri and I made chocolate chip waffles for breakfast to add to our chocolate feast. Then we got our fine Easter clothes on (shorts and t-shirts) and headed to Laura’s house, which used to be Grandma Heile’s house, which used to be where I hunted eggs when I was a girl. However, I never had the chance at a $5 egg like Ri and Mario and Grace and Dakota have now. It’s a big rivalry every year – who will get the $5 egg. Grace held the honors last year so we were ready to take over this year. We didn’t disappoint – Mario got it. And was very excited.
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Ri rocked out an Aunt Laura tank top and wig for the hunt. She’s always up for a twist. And it wouldn’t be a Heile Easter without some volleyball. It used to be softball but a few years back it switched over to volleyball and there are some good players in our family. Of course, Robert and Cy have the height advantage but we all hold our own. Even Ri and Mario like to get in the game. Ri just likes to talk smack but Mario wants the ball to come to him so he can hit it.
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I always leave these Heile parties without a voice and exhausted, and that’s not a bad thing. I love this crew to the moon and back: my aunts and uncles helped raise me and I helped raise all these cousins of mine who are now 20 something’s and full of Heile energy.
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On the drive home, I felt full of joy…and chocolate Easter eggs.

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Easter 2013

Maria was more excited about Easter this year than Christmas. For the last three days before Easter she kept wondering what the Bunny might bring her. I never thought she cared much about the baskets that I create for them each year but I was wrong. As we sat at the table writing letters to the Easter Bunny, she said “I want to say something to her (I love that she treats the Easter Bunny as a girl – my progressive-minded girl) but I don’t want to sound greedy.”

“What are you asking her?”

“I’m asking her to please bring a basket for me and Mario again this year.”

“We’ll, I don’t think that is unreasonable to ask. Just ask it politely.”

So she wrote “P.S. Would you consider bringing a basket to me and Mario?”

I love that girl. She really is a thoughtful little soul. When Mario acted up later in the evening, I told him the Bunny was watching. He could have cared less. So I got more firm with him. Ri started sniffling. I asked what was the matter and she muffled her words “I don’t want my brother to not get a basket.” She watches over that boy.

She left out a cup of milk and cheese for the Bunny. She couldn’t find carrots. Then she went promptly up to her room so the Bunny would come. Mario stayed downstairs. I kept swearing that one day the Bunny would not come because he didn’t go to bed on time. All I can say is he knows he’s got a sucker for a mom and I would never let that happen.

And sure enough, even though he didn’t go upstairs until 10 with Jon, the Easter Bunny somehow managed to fix up two awesome baskets with bug catchers, a Katy Perry CD, Skylanders, clothes, sunglasses, and chocolate bunnies, of course.

The Bunny gave me written instructions to hide the eggs since he couldn’t hide them outside with the rain. The kids tore through the downstairs and the hunt ended in two minutes. They wanted those baskets.

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I had to give $5 in an egg to each of them because we missed the Heile Easter egg hunt where there is always the possibility of finding the $5 egg (Grace was the sole participant this year so she got lucky). They were high on candy within 10 minutes (how fast can Mario down peanut butter cups? Three in a minute).

I still don’t know what to think about Ri and her belief in the Easter Bunny. With as old as she acts, I can’t believe she still believes. But then she gets so excited about Easter and writes a letter to her and leaves out food that I think she must believe. But then again, on Easter morning when Mario pulled out a Skylander and I said stupidly “I thought you’d like that one” she quickly interjected”you mean the Easter Bunny, don’t you, mom?” with a coy smile on her face. She keeps me guessing. Mario doesn’t give it much thought as long as there are gifts and money in his basket.

After finding eggs, we headed to Marion for Easter brunch. Nothing like filling yourself up with bacon, ham, creamy macaroni and hash browns before diving into brownies and chocolate peeps. Why aren’t elastic sweatpants allowed at brunch?

Carrie and Gio had to stay home because Gio was sick but we got Alana for the day. Mario enjoys playing with her as much as Gio. Grandma Ionno had eggs ready to be hunted and the kids got treated to more candy and another $5 egg. I’ve never made $10 bucks that easy.

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The kids visited the mama and papa geese near Patty’s bridge. The papa squawked at us to stay away from his woman and babies and Mario had to tell us the story of him and Grandma getting chased by the papa two weeks ago. Then the kids rapped on the rocks (much to Uncle Patrick’s dismay – I told him we’d sing hard rock next time).

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Mario crashed on the ride home but woke up when we got close to home begging to see Quinn. I told him they weren’t home from their aunt’s house yet and he got so mad. “You promised we could see them, mom!” He is all about keeping promises lately. I explained to him that I said we could see them if they were home. He surprisingly understood and sat quiet. I need to be very careful with my promises from now on because as long as I don’t promise something I know may not happen, he seems ok.

He ended up having a good night with his family. We took a scooter walk and played football. And ate a ton more chocolate Easter bunnies.

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).

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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).

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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.

Continuing the Madness…

Easter morning

We stuffed ourselves on Saturday.  Absolutely stuffed between the corn casserole, the brownies, the potato salad.  So, what else is there to do but continue the gluttony on Easter Sunday?  The kids woke up in a bit of a stupor from our long day on Saturday but within about eight minutes, the day hit them. 

“Is it Easter?  Did the Easter Bunny come here? Are there eggs downstairs?”

It had rained all night so the back yard was soaked.  Jon kept the kids in bed while I ran downstairs to hide the eggs and put out their baskets.  I had done the baskets Friday night knowing that I would be exhausted Saturday night.  As I was placing the last few eggs on the bookcase and piano, the kids started shuffling downstairs asking if they could begin the hunt.  They found their baskets in the corner of the dining room – Maria screamed when she saw Justin Bieber stickers and Mario jumped around the room when he discovered mini transformers.  Maria moved onto the “hidden” eggs (not so hidden when you are talking about three rooms downstairs with very little furniture) and found all of her eggs within two minutes.  Mario took his time on the eggs front because those new transformers were way too enticing.  

After the hunt came the best part – opening each egg to eat up the contents.  I had packed Maria’s eggs full of skittles, gumballs and NERDS (she enjoys those sweet candies like her Aunt Sarah).  I packed Mario all chocolate – M&M’s, snickers, and reese’s (he is his mother’s child).  Everytime Mario looked away, I snatched another chocolate.   

Jon’s parents and brothers came over at 11 am and we headed to brunch at Bravo’s restaurant.  The kids hung on their  cousin Peter, the entire time.  They were fascinated with him (age 16) just like they are with their Heile boy cousins(age 16 and 17).  Luckily, Peter is about as low-key as the Heile boys so he allowed them to climb on him, lead him through our house, and show him their toys.  When we returned home, Mario begged to play Peter in a game of b-ball on Wii.  While they played, the gals (Maria, Patty, Debbie and me) walked to Giant Eagle to grab a bag of ice.  We talked about Jon’s dad, about moving to Columbus, about kids.  It was nice to break away and have that alone time together.  Maria did a good job walking with us and listening to us talk – she is getting more mature in that arena lately.  She used to butt in every two seconds in the past but now she enjoys listening and adding in her two cents when she sees fit. 

When we got home from the store, Mario had moved the men to the outside to play “live” basketball. He showed us his dunks while Maria came out and showed us her new sandals.  I had taken her there to get me a pair of gym shoes.  When we walked in, however, Maria immediately dragged me over to the high heels section.  She selected about three different heels that were over an inch high and that I have only seen in the movies on prostitutes.  She loved them.  To her despair, I moved directly to the gym shoe area.  I led her to the girls’ shoes and soon she returned with a pair of black heels on her feet.  They almost fit her perfectly, and she begged to purchase them (I am so hoping that this a phase that ends by the time she is 7).  She chose about 4 other shoes before she came out with the turquoise sandals, which we finally agreed upon. 

After chowing down on Patty’s awesome chocolate chip cookies and turtles, we hit the road for the Heile soiree, aka the Madhouse.  Poor Jon is still not used to the ruckus that inevitably occurs when us Heile women get together but he continues to hang in there be the good sport that he is (typically sitting off in the corner with my uncle to talk about hunting).  My darlin’ girl cousins love on Maria and Mario picking them up, squeezing them, kissing them and giving them raspberries all over those round bellies – just like the treatment I received from my aunts when I was little.  Maria relishes in the time that she gets with her second cousins (who we call aunts just because second cousins seems way too distant).  They include her in anything they do which included this holiday sitting on the back of my uncle’s truck listening to music and chatting about boys, clothes, friends, and shoes – right up Maria’s alley.  Mario has made the conscious choice to turn his attention to the boy cousins because they spend their time playing basketball.  He hangs in there with ’em trying to make a shot even if the net is ten times his size.  One day he will show them all up. 

We chowed down on more ham, more potato salad, more deviled eggs, and a new twist – baked beans (a Heile tradition)!  Dairy Queen ice cream cake for dessert, too.  Pure heaven.  We had our traditional easter egg hunt that used to be at least 9 kids strong but that was before all of the cousins grew up and turned into 20 somethings.  Now we only have four kids participating – Maria and Mario, Baby Grace, and Konner.  Everyone wants to get the $5.o0 egg each year, and although all the kids get the same amount of eggs each year, it is still a race to get your number the quickest.  Maria got all nine of hers and Mario only had 8.  Konner had 7 and Grace was finished.  Everyone was helping Konner and Mario find the remaining eggs.  One of the cousins found one and called for Mario to race over.  Konner started heading that way, and Maria tackled him to the ground in order to help her baby brother (the reason she gives at least).  When it comes to eggs, they go to no lengths to help each other.  Baby Grace ended up with the $5.00 egg for a second year in a row much to Maria’s disappointment.  Maria had a major breakdown last year when Grace got the egg; this year we had a talk about how to act if Grace won (be graceful and grateful that she won because she is a baby and needs diapers!) and indeed, she took the $5.00 “loss” like a champ. 

The rain started to grow heavy after the hunt, and the party moved indoors except for Mario and the boys who continued to shoot in the steady downpour.  Mario walked in the house fifteen minutes later sopping wet and completely uncomfortable.  “Mom, take off my shoes and my clothes.  I am all wet and need to be dry.”  He could not stand being wet, and refused to put his shoes back on throughout the night.  He did enjoy running around the living room in only his undies.  Maria again used her tackling skills to get him under control and move him back into the bedroom to get dressed. 

We left the Heile house with cousin Maggie in the car (hitchhiking a ride back to Columbus) and Madagascar on the movie screen.  Maria lasted about 30 minutes before crashing.  Mario and Maggie hung in throughout the trip home.  We unloaded all of the easter treats in the house and I spent 20 minutes picking through easter candies to eat promising myself that the candy remaining on Monday morning would be given away at work.  Of course, I sit here tonight eating a reese cup and a chocolate bunny swearing that I will get rid of the candy tomorrow.  Yeah….

Family, Ham and Chocolate

Mario’s game face
M & M getting ready for the hunt!

I love Easter.  It is my favorite holiday for two reasons: (1) I adore chocolate and there is a ton of it between the easter egg hunts, the grandparents, and me splurging on it “for the kids’ baskets;” and (2) people seem to be more relaxed on Easter – less frantic about presents, meals, attire.  Easter comes right at the time of a new season – winter cold is gone and grass is turning green.  People are excited about being outside again. 

We celebrated Easter today out at the farm.  The forecast called for rain all weekend with strong thunderstorms at times.  When we woke up this morning, the sky was grey and dreary but had promise to it.  Patches of yellow and blue broke through in the sky, and I had a feeling during my morning run that we would be spared.  I was right.  The Grandview Easter Egg Hunt began at 10 am with soggy grass underfoot but no rain showers.  Maria’s nightmare came true when she heard that 5-7 year olds were grouped together (“I will never get as many eggs as 7 years olds).  However, she perked back up when she met up with her friend Anna and her grandma.  I stood with Mario in the 2-4 year old group coaching him about how to engage in the hunt (“pick up the eggs first – not the bags of oreos and cookies”).  He put his game face on after my speech, and anxiously awaited for the announcer to yell “GO!”  What comes over me and other parents at these easter egg hunts?  We are so competitive following our kids around the area pointing frantically at eggs that we see.  When the kid is looking in the opposite direction, we yell “Mario, look!  Mario!  Mario, over here!  Mario!!!”  Mario ended up with more eggs than Maria, which led to Maria frowning and complaining that she did not get “any” eggs even though she had three in her basket.  Her friend gave her two of her eggs, which led to 180 degree change in Maria who smiled from ear to ear.  the kids sat down to open their eggs, and Mario promptly gave me the first chocolate candy piece he opened.  What a doll.  I had told him how much I loved easter chocolate and he had told me that he would share his with me.  However, I was not going to believe it until I saw it.  And there it was.  He does love his mama!  Maria, on the other hand, gave me a stern look when I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from her basket.  “Mom, this is my food.”  She is so generous when it comes to other things but not her food!

We rushed home after the hunt and hopped in the car to the farm.  Within five minutes of walking in the door, Maria and Mario and their cousins found the baby chicks.  Tiny and precious and so delicate.  Just what three and five-year olds need to handle.  But Grandma Meg managed to let all of the kids hold them without incident.  Mario chanted “Calm, calm” to the chick while he held it.  Maria acted like she was a vet while she held one asking me what was wrong with my baby chick.  They were infatuated at first sight.  Maria and Anneliese, her 8 year old cousin, played beautifully together.  Surprisingly, Mario and his three-year old cousin, Ben, also played together for the first time ever.  In the past, they were into their own things (and still at that young age where you don’t play much with other kids) but this time they were by each others’ sides for most of the day.  Ben would yell for Mario and Mario would run to him.  Mario would ask Ben to get something for him and Ben would get it.  They threw stones in the stream for 30 minutes and talked about being in the army while they rode the rocking horses.  They used croquet clubs as hammers and swords.  Boys.  Maria and Anneliese held the chicks a lot and walked Rosie and played in the stream.  Tomgirls – yeah! 

We ate yummy ham and potato salad and deviled eggs and corn casserole and butter rolls.  Patty’s potato salad won everyone over with people going up for thirds!  I swear I am going to enter her p. salad into a contest – it will undoubtedly take first place.  Desserts made my stomach larger just looking at them – brownies, cookies, shortcake, chocolate cake, lemon bars in addition to all of the Easter candy!  Oh, how I love this holiday! But, oh, how I wish I had some sort of will power.  I get on Maria about eating too much but then I stand around the table eating 3 brownies, cake, candy and cookies.  I blame those Menkedick genes that cannot resist chocolate (unless you are supernatural like my father).  My 91 year-old grandmother devoured the desserts just like me so I think I am doomed.  

The kids got to ride the horses towards the end of the day and then got treated to a stellar easter egg hunt.  There is part of me that still wants to participate in those hunts – I see an egg hiding in the fence post and I get so excited.  I was a damn good egg finder back in my day….  We finished up the afternoon holding the chicks some more and chatting with family that we don’t see as often as we would like.  Maria would love to have Anneliese closer and Mario and Ben would have a blast together now that they are the ripe old age of three.  Grandma M. is strong as ever, carrying on conversation and watching the kids play.  I wish I lived closer to her so we could see her more often even though she even states that having M&M over any more often would seriously wear her out.  She has got to be kidding – my kids are little angels…! 

In sum, a great start to a holiday weekend.  The farm is a gem, and Meg did an awesome job hosting us all.  Dad did an awesome job entertaining the kids (even though he allowed Mario to fall in the stream!).  And the rest of us just soaked in the beauty of a wet Spring day.