This year, one of my major happiness goals is to make a big deal out of celebrating Easter.
I got to thinking after a talk at my moms group last year: why is Christmas such a huge deal, but Easter is a second-rate holiday? I don’t know about you, but at least at our house, Easter was often an afterthought. I would hurry to pull out Easter baskets the night before Easter and run to the convenience store to buy whatever candy they had left over so that there would be something for my kids to discover on Easter morning. My husband would hide plastic Easter eggs in the yard during breakfast. And that was it. Easter accomplished.
I shared a few years ago that I sometimes struggle with gratefulness. I sometimes choose to look at what I don’t have or can’t do, rather than at the hundred other blessings that are right in front of me.
It’s definitely not a new idea that gratefulness takes practice, and that noticing good things in your life leads to greater peace and joy.
So this year, I am writing a gratefulness journal. And I think you should join me! #gratefulNovember
Of course, if you ask her how old she is, she says, “Cake!”
Caitlin is a sweet and determined little girl. She always knows what she wants and what she doesn’t! It has been so fun watching her learn over this past year: just when I think she might take forever to figure something out, she takes off running (literally. at 13½ months. walking is for chumps). She studies everything around her, speaks in complete sentences, and stands up for herself. She loves hugs and being outside and picture books. She loves shoes and farm animals and helping with chores. Her favorite foods are peanut butter and grapes.
Caitlin loves nothing better than sitting in our laps and reading books, so we threw her a storybook party to celebrate her second year of life!
Jake definitely gave me a run for my money this year. He is rambunctious and giddy and willful and very invested in understanding every single thing.
This year we celebrated Jake’s birthday in the most fitting way I could imagine: with a mountain of candy and a giant board game. Jake’s sweet tooth rivals mine, and he has spent the last year in a quest to become a board game geek like his daddy. (It should be noted here that his favorite game is called Just Desserts, which is a game where you feed pretend customers all their favorite sugary treats, and that when we play Candyland, he cherishes the pink dessert cards so much that I have a hard time convincing him to keep them in the stack.)
Happy fourth birthday, Jake! I can’t believe how big you are, and I can’t wait to see how you grow over the next year!
Somehow a whole year has flown by, and my baby girl turned 1!
In some ways, it doesn’t even seem real: she still has no teeth and she’s not walking on her own quite yet. Although she loves to enthusiastically yell, “Hi!” on the phone, she still seems to think blowing raspberries is the best form of communication. She’s still my baby—she can’t possibly be a whole year old!
Caitlin has a smile that lights up her whole face. She throws back her head when she grins, and it’s like her entire body quivers with joy. She loves her brother, she loves to explore, she loves hugs, she loves books and ripping paper (not the best combination), and she loves to put every small thing into her mouth. She certainly keeps us on our toes, and we are so glad to know her!
For Caitlin’s first birthday, we threw a bubble bash. I bought bubble machines and wands and set out a bunch of food and we invited friends and family to come celebrate!
My son is smart and wily and creative. He is thoughtful and determined and energetic.
And he is 3 years old!
This year for Jake’s birthday, I really wanted to keep it simple. I wanted to spend less time worrying and preparing, and more time marveling at how my tiny baby turned into this enormous, articulate preschooler, a little boy with a strong will and a contagious smile!
Jake never hesitates when you ask him what his favorite foods are: ice cream and pizza. (Clearly I have been teaching him everything I know…) So this year we decided to have an ice cream party to celebrate what an awesome kid Jake is!
For several months now, Jake’s favorite “book” has been a Wilton cupcake decorating magazine. He found it on the cookbook shelf and immediately started asking me to “read” it to him, naming and describing all of the cupcakes from bubble-gum machines to bouncing babies to Christmas penguins. Now the poor cupcake magazine is more dog-eared than any other book in the house.
(In case you don’t know, I have never been a fan of fondant. Or extravagantly decorating desserts purely for visual effect. I am a firm believer that food should be primarily tasty, and that efforts that don’t affect the flavor are a waste of time.)
This cupcake book is entirely to blame for the fact that Jake has become obsessed with Easter eggs. Begging daily to do an Easter egg hunt (an event that he has never actually experienced…).
Because of this cupcake book, I am slowly realizing that I will have to let go of my ambivalence toward cute foods in favor of having fun with my kid.
Spring certainly does present a lot of fun (food) craft opportunities for little ones, so this week we decided to embrace the chocolate malt Easter egg and do a delicious art project! Jake had a blast decorating these cupcakes! Not only were these cupcakes cute and festive (perfect for a party!), but every part of them was tasty.
Now all that’s left is just assembling the cake! And believe it or not, while this step is a little scary, it’s actually not that hard. (We already did all the hard work when we frosted each layer!)
And when we are done, we will have a beautiful, delicious tiered wedding cake! At last!
I also just want to heap some praises on the wonderful wedding photographer, Lisa Rice of Lisa Rice Photography, who graciously sent me a few of the official cake photos after my camera battery died! If you are looking for a stupendous photographer, especially if you are based in Ohio, go take a look at her work!
My baby turned 2! I am still not sure how this is possible, but every day he is chatting incessantly and singing songs and creating new things and just delighting us. (What a big difference from what he was doing two years ago!)
For example, this morning, he wanted to play with play-doh, and as I was getting it out, he announced, “Don’t eat play-doh,” (which, as you may guess, is a rule for a reason…) and then proceeded to build a layered birthday cake with little straws for candles.
Yeah, the birthday event really made an impression on him!
This year, we went to a local farm park to celebrate Jake’s birthday with family and some of his friends. Frying Pan Farm Park has a working dairy farm, a collection of antique tractors and farm equipment, a ton of animals to check out (and, bonus, the pigs and goats recently had babies), as well as open spaces to run around, a carousel, and two sets of playground equipment. It’s the real deal for kids of any age!
Have you ever met someone who says they don’t bake because they don’t like to measure?
(Are you that person?)
I have several friends who have confessed that or similar hang-ups about baking. But here’s how I see it: it’s Christmas! Everyone deserves fresh baked cookies, whether or not they wake up in the morning thinking about creaming butter and sugar!
That’s why this year, I am giving the gift of baking. Err…cookies.
This is a great gift, even for people who do love to bake. It’s sweet and inexpensive—I love finding little ways to tell someone I thought about them without breaking the bank or obligating them to give anything in return. It took me about 1 hour to put together 8 jars, and the cookies themselves are delicious! They are full of oats, spices, chocolate, toasted nuts, and cranberries. (Although I admit I subbed coconut for the cranberries in the batch I baked myself. That, too, was stupendous!)
You should go get some jars and make these cookies for your friends, too!