Easter 2017

I was pretty exhausted after my day out with the kids on Saturday, and ended up taking a five-hour late-afternoon nap, waking up in the quiet and dark with a flash of panic because I have done *NOTHING* to prepare the house for tomorrow. Continue reading

Easter with Family

We spent our first Easter in Germany with family. It’s been exactly 10 years since the last time we celebrated Easter with Martin’s family. We hosted this year’s celebration at our house — the first visit for Martin’s sister Carola and her fiance Stefan. While I was ready to show off some of my culinary skills with a home-cooked meal to greet them, Martin informed me they all had just one request: Taco Bell.

Apparently, that food chain made an impression on them all those times they visited us in Italy (where there was a Taco Bell on the military base there), and they wanted to have some again. Who am I to deny them the American fast-food version of crunchy tacos and burritos?

So, we took them to Taco Bell. Continue reading

Easter Memories

I’m spending my Friday night filling up dozens of plastic Easter eggs, and feeling all kinds of nostalgia in the process.

Many of the plastic eggs are the very same eggs our Grandma MJ used for us all those years we (to include when my sisters and I were still teenagers) spent celebrating Easter with her and Grandpa Charley.

And this year, our German family will be with us again. It’s been ten years since we spent Easter together. I can’t wait!

TBT: Easter

Easter 1990 at my Aunt Eileen’s house. I was 9, Jill was 7, and Jinger was 4. As much as Lola looks like me all the time, I really see Miss C’s face on mine in this photo. She looks so much like her Daddy, but it’s that expression — the eye crinkle and toothy smile — that lets me know she’s mine, too, no DNA testing needed.

Easter in Ohio

I packed up Amelia the Minivan and ventured off to Cincinnati over the weekend with the children and Patches Der Hund, to celebrate Easter again with our family in Ohio.
On Sunday morning, we headed over to Grandma MJ’s house, where we feasted on a traditional lunch with our family. My sister Jill and brother-in-law were there with my niece, the fabulous Miss J, who is just six months younger than Jaz.
I’m convinced our kids are actually twins masquerading as cousins. Out of the four parents, none of us have blond hair nor do we have blue eyes, yet here we have blond-hair, blue-eyed children with wide smiles and cherub cheeks.
Weren’t they adorable in their Easter outfits?
Jaz in a sweater vest just kills me.
Anyway, the kids all participated in an Easter egg hunt in Grandma MJ’s backyard. Miss C and Lola did very well, and the younger two got a second chance for success with a smaller egg hunt in the living room.
All the kids ended up with baskets full of goodies.
Despite being surrounded by so much family, though, it was obvious that Martin was missing. Everyone asked about him, of course. As the kids ran around in their bunny ears, or did something cute, or cheered as they found their treats, I felt the pull of wanting to turn to Martin and say, “Did you see that? Aren’t our kids adorable?”
But of course, I didn’t. Instead, I passed around some stationery for everyone to sign, and they did. I also took a lot of photos and video of the kids running around and laughing.
At least he’ll be able to share in the memories when he gets home.

Jaz looking dapper while hanging out with Max the Dog.

My sister Jill with my niece Miss J, who can’t decide if she loves the bunny ears.

I have no idea what they are reacting to, but it cracks me up.

Miss J and I mugging for the camera.

Our cousin Rob was such a good helper! The kids just adore him.

I have photos of Rob with each of my children like this. He’s just so cool!

A girl can never eat too many Peeps.

Saying goodbye!

Orthodox Easter With Friends

We celebrated Easter once more with family friends this past weekend.
Nick and I were stationed together in Italy, back when he was a captain and I was the editor of the base newspaper. 
Both of us arrived at Aviano within weeks of each other and worked together all three years. I got to become friends with his wife Vicky, and I was even there when their first son was born just a few months after Miss C arrived.
Now we’re all older with kids, and living around Washington D.C.

We reconnected when I worked at the Defense Media Agency as a blogger. I wasn’t even there a month when a familiar face walked past my desk. Since we had connected through Facebook before then, we already knew both of our families had grown to two children with a third on the way. 
We also knew we needed to get everyone together again.
We finally made it happen this past weekend when they asked us over to celebrate the Orthodox Easter. Vicky’s from Romania, and invited us to share in some traditional dishes and activities with them.

Vicky had a really great spread ready for us, to include baskets for all the kids with little gifts. She also prepared an amazing feast of lamb and cabbage rolls, and apple pie and cake for dessert.

I should mention that all of this was prepared using various alternative ingredients as her oldest son has food allergies that prohibit most of the standards: dairy, gluten, sugar, eggs, etc. I was so impressed by her kitchen, and all the types of oils and flours she uses to create those dishes. Everything was delicious, and both Martin and me ate way too much.

But knowing it was all very healthy for us did make consumption a bit more guilt-free.

Waiting for the egg hunt.

The best part of the day, though, was the Easter egg hunt. The Easter Bunny and her helper (*ahem*) did an excellent job hiding eggs all around the backyard while the dads kept the kids occupied in their playroom. As soon as they got an “all clear,” the kids gathered at the backdoor before bolting out to find their stash.

Miss C and the older boys darted all over the place, snatching up the plastic eggs.

Lola, on the other hand, immediately lost interest once she spotted the trampoline. She ditched her basket faster than a hot potato, deciding it was much more fun to jump around instead.

Eventually, the other kids joined her and the rest of the afternoon was spent watching the kids bounce around and chase each other.

She was sad to have to go, but I was amused by her new hairstyle.

It was really so awesome spending time with all of them again. Martin and I had to laugh when we saw all the Italian artwork hanging up in their home: we have a lot of Italy photos and artwork hanging up in our home, too. We have such great memories from that time, and it was fun to reflect with Vicky and Nick.

Best of all, it was really cool to see our kids get along so well. None of them were very happy when we declared it a school night, meaning it was time to go home.

But they shouldn’t worry: by the time Martin got our van to the highway, Vicky and I were already texting plans for another playdate.


If you are a military family and dealing with autism, you need to know about AMFAS.

It’s the American Military Families Autism Support group that offers a wealth of information about treatment, dealing with TRICARE, the Exceptional Family Member Program, and just about anything and everything else involving the autism spectrum disorder and the military lifestyle.

Nick and Vicky are a driving force behind the program and website as their oldest was diagnosed with autism a few years ago. They’ve done a great job building up a strong network across all the services, and unite families who wouldn’t be connected otherwise.

It’s a great resource to bookmark and pass along.


The Good Stuff

It’s been awhile since the last time I celebrated Easter with my family in Ohio.

I was a senior in high school. We had brunch at my aunt’s house before setting out on an egg hunt orchestrated by my Grandma MJ.

It didn’t matter that I was just weeks away from becoming a legal adult. It didn’t matter that most of my cousins were still in elementary school and probably looked up to me as some type of role model. I was still expected to carry a basket, and not wanting to disappoint, I ran from corner to corner like a crazed lioness on the hunt, set on the mission to find as many eggs as possible.

Because Grandma MJ didn’t just put on any ol’ colored eggs.

She always had the good stuff.

Over the weekend, my kids got to experience some of that good stuff, too. The timing of spring break and the vow renewal meant we got to celebrate Easter with our family in Ohio.

This meant waking up at my parents’ house to find buckets filled with books and goodies for the kids.

Then, after everyone finished up with breakfast, church and packing up the van for our return to Virginia, we headed over to Grandma MJ and Grandpa Charley’s house for lunch.

Even though the rest of the family — to include all my cousins who are now college students — wouldn’t arrive until dinner time, Grandma MJ prepared a meal especially for us knowing we had to hit the road before it got too late.

And not only did she prepare the meal, but she prepared an Easter adventure for the girls, complete with baskets, bunny ears, and the promise of a zillion wonderful eggs hidden in her backyard.

Just for my kids.

The girls went nuts, just like I remember doing. As soon as we said “GO!”, they were off for the hunt, zipping around the garden and squealing with every find.

Some of the eggs were obvious. Some were really tricky to find, tucked between tree roots or behind the shed. After about 15 minutes, all the eggs were found. After snapping some photos with the the family and the full baskets, we headed inside to dig through the eggs.

True to tradition, those eggs were filled with lots of goodies: chocolate, coins, five-dollar bills, jewelry, tiny Easter trinkets.

Oh, but Grandma MJ wasn’t done there. She presented each of the kids with a gift bag. Jaz got an adorable, fluffy stuffed bunny, and both girls received a dancing chicken that pops out a colored egg while singing a tune. It was the cutest and strangest thing ever, and the kids loved them.

For the next few hours, we sat around my grandparents’ living room and watched the kids play with their new things. We ate the lunch, talked about the Cincinnati Reds, and Martin’s new job as a stay-at-home dad. We looked at photos, compared cameras, and discussed summer plans.

The best part of the whole day, though, was watching my kids interact with their grandparents and great-grandparents.

My hope is that when the kids are older and are looking back on the memories of their childhood, they’ll remember the good stuff.

The hugs. The kisses.

The laughing. The teasing. The encouragement to eat as much as you want.

The splinter removal done by a patient grandpa.

Just being together and enjoying each other’s company.

Because THAT is the good stuff.

Easter Weekend Cleanup

Who doesn’t love baskets full of goodies in the morning?

We had a great Easter weekend.

There was a birthday party. The Easter Bunny. Gorgeous weather and lots of yard work. 
I also did some digital spring cleaning. I organized and labeled a bunch of photo files on our computers, and also emptied out ALL of my photo discs.
Ever since The Great Crash of 2010, I’ve had a serious complex involving my photo discs. I am so reluctant to delete the photos from the photo discs after I upload the files onto our computer, save them on our external hard drive and burn them to a DVD. Yeah. The experience of nearly losing all those photos last summer scarred me. I don’t like deleting photos ever.

But this creates a horrible cycle. I always get to a point where I HAVE to make space on these photo discs, usually in a rush, so I just drag and drop the files (again) on the computer, no labeling, and clear the discs. But this means a bunch of files accumulate. 
So, as the girls and I sunned ourselves on our back porch while Martin did some yardwork, I got to work. And I really accomplished a lot. Even though this cleanup can only be seen on my computer, I feel as free as if I mopped and scrubbed my kitchen with lemon and vinegar. 
Here are some photos I discovered on some of those discs, as well as photos from the weekend.
They scored new shoes, beach towels, swimsuits, candy-scented bubbles and sweets!
Lola braved our muddy yard to get to those eggs.
The Easter Bunny – who I swear was the same height as my tall, strapping husband – hid those eggs by moonlight late the night before. So cute seeing the girls get excited about the hunt.

Miss C was very helpful to her little sister, and even gave up a few sure finds 
Photo from last week. Miss C and I have been working hard, creating the nursery room art for Lola and Bug. We’ll post pics when everything is done.

Photo from a few weekends ago. Martin and Lola doing yard work.

Photo from a few weeks ago. This bird shows up in our backyard tree all the time.

I painted Lola’s nails a few weeks ago.

It’s about the only time she’s ever completely still.

Photo from February. I pulled out our masks from Venice to celebrate Carnevale.
Lola preferred peeking over the mask versus actually looking through it.

Miss C takes a swing at a birthday party we went to this weekend. I love her tongue sticking out – such determination!

Lola preferred hanging out on the giant slide instead of beating the piñata. Such a big kid now!

Monday Evening Splash, Easter and a Haircut


A miracle happened this evening. Miss C went to bed without a fight AT HER BEDTIME, meaning Martin and I had time to ourselves.

This was, seriously, the first time in a long time it’s just been Martin and me without one of us, if not both of us, entertaining Miss C.

So what did we do?

We did what any other married couple would do: twisted open some Hornsby ciders and parked in front of the television. It was awesome.

The movie “Splash” was on, starring Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah. It was so obviously made in 1984. It had been one of my favorite movies when I was kid, but Martin had never seen it. We missed the first hour, so I filled him in with the movie’s plot and we spent the next hour and fifteen minutes watching the rest of it. We couldn’t get over how insanely young Tom Hanks was in that flick. And we both couldn’t get over how cheesey it was!

We had all sorts of questions, too. Does Tom Hanks eventually turn into a mermaid, too, after jumping in the water? Doesn’t human flesh start shedding after so many hours under water? Didn’t that happen to that David Blane magician when he did that water ball thing in New York? How does one get intimate with a mermaid?
It was really funny, sitting there and asking these questions and pointing out the inconsistencies in the movie’s plot. At the same time, though, we both really enjoyed the movie. Like most other 80’s movies, it’s clearly not meant to be taken seriously. Although, Martin promises that if I was a mermaid, he’d jump with me. Ha. Ha.

Our Easter weekend was very nice. On Saturday, Miss C and I dyed eggs and I cut her hair. Miss C has very fine, curly hair that’s hard to control. It would be great if it grew longer, but it doesn’t. The curls just get tighter and she hates it when we try to run a comb through it. I got sick of trying to reason with her every morning.

So just after we dyed the eggs and after she put up a fight when I went to comb her hair, I exclaimed, “For pete’s sake, Miss C, I’m just going to cut it all off!”

Miss C smiled at this.

“Okay, Mama. Cut it off, like Daddy’s!” She ran to go get Martin’s clippers, the ones I use every two weeks when I buzz Martin’s hair in our kitchen. I decided to take advantage of her cooperation and so I threw her up on the stool, wrapped the sheet around her and began cutting her hair.


It’s a talent few people know I have. I’ve cut other people’s hair for years and not a single person has ever been dissatisfied. But I was nervous with Miss C. I’ve trimmed her hair a few times, but never anything drastic. And though she tried to hold still as best as she could, she still turned her head at random. It took less than 10 minutes though, and I have to say, it came out exactly like I envisioned it. It’s boyishly short, but on her, it looks adorable. She was shocked at the amount of hair on the floor, but when I held her up in front of the mirror, she was all smiles.

“Mama, it’s so cute!” she exclaimed, turning her head side-to-side to get the best view. She is so proud of it.

On Sunday, our church had a beautiful service and I was surprised by the turnout. We go to church every Sunday and while there is a family or two in every pew, the church was packed this day. There were no spaces between families in the pews and we sat in the far back corner, far away from where we normally sit. We have a lot of excellent singers in our choir, too. Miss C really enjoyed the music, and she was very well-behaved.

Afterwards, we held an Easter egg hunt at our house. The eggs were hidden throughout our cul-de-sac. Martin and I had no less than 50 eggs distributed and I thought we hid them pretty well, but it took less than 15 minutes for the kids to find them all. We then had everyone over in our house for snacks and drinks. Miss C was beyond excited about having everyone over, and her room seemed to have exploded every single toy she owned afterwards.

All in all, it was a very good weekend, one that I’m going to recall many times in the months to come.