Monday, April 24, 2017

Childhood memories

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
-John Muir

Once upon a time I was a little girl living in a teeny farming community, population less than 200 people. My childhood memories center around this small town. Hands linked together with neighborhood kids while chanting, Red Rover, Red Rover, send so-in-so right over. Running through yards in the darkening sky during an hour long game of Hide 'n Seek. The loud whistle from a father telling his children it was time to come home. Pie socials at the community hall. Riding bikes to the only gas station in town for Little Debbie treats that cost a single quarter. The list goes on.

I have fond memories when I think back as my time as a young girl; and when I watch my kids play, it sparks a memory and ignites a smile. My hope is they look back at their childhood with a similar fondness. I hope they remember the backyard bonfires and dodgeball with neighbors and walks into town to go to the park and, most especially, I hope they remember the mud puddles in the backyard.

From spring until fall our backyard is periodically transformed into a stream of puddles, one pond leading to the next via a slow moving creek. My children can be found splashing, running, sliding and flinging mud in the beloved puddles. I'll be sad when the day comes that these puddles go untouched by my children, coming and going without much more notice than a glance out the window while doing the dishes. But I think even then I'll still see them out there, the memory as vivid as if it were actually happening in real time, their little bodies dripping with water, faces caked with mud, and loud, raucous laughter filling the void. Perhaps I'll think of their childhood with a similar fondness as I think of my own. For now, though, we're going to enjoy creating the memories. One gigantic mud puddle at a time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Loving Easter to the fullest

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. 

-Saint Augustine

March rolled in, and I hefted the big plastic tote off the top shelf in the basement storage area. Easter is scribbled on the lid in big, black letters, denoting the holiday decorations. When everyone else in Minnesota was whining about the snow and cold and lack of spring in the forecast, I was hanging bunny banners and floral garlands and setting out baskets with polka dotted pastel fabric linings on the windowsill. I dressed my baby in her Easter dress and lace anklet socks and gave her some Easter props while I snapped a million photos. I love holidays. Holidays are my jam. It's snowing in April? Let's paint a pretty flower canvas for the fireplace mantel. There's nothing holiday fever can't cure.

The downside of cracking out the decorations early is hearing your five-year-old ask on a regular basis if it's Easter yet. Nope, not yet, buddy; but let's put on these bunny ears and pretend. And so we did. All through March and midway through April. Until, finally, the time had come. Easter!

There was no school on Good Friday and Dave had off work, so we covered the table with a plastic liner, boiled some eggs, mixed some Kool-Aid packages, and dyed some eggs. It was Jillian's first year in on the festivities, and I think I can speak for her by saying she enjoyed it. Mostly she squeezed the eggs until they broke and then she peeled back the layers. Over and over again. And spilled. She spilled a lot. But so did her "medium brother" so we're not judging. Once all the eggs were dyed, the kids fled for the shower and I was left with the war zone to clean up. Colored puddles on the floor and table. Shells. Squished egg pieces. White crayons. Spoons. Tupperware dishes. And those awful smelling eggs. But I love it. Even the mess. Even the cleanup. Because it's worth it.

This year the bunny asked Dave if he could fill in again at the VFW since he was too busy to make an appearance himself. And the gig came with a new suit this year. Gone was the open-faced mask where you could see Dave's face among the white fur and long ears. This year was a fancy suit. He tried it on at home and treated the kids to a visit. Jillian wanted no part in it and tried to flee, even after Dave removed the mask to reveal his face.

Easter Sunday we started at home with our traditional scavenger hunts to find the baskets. And then we were off to my aunt's farm for lunch with the extended family and the infamous egg hunt. Ashton was very excited to be apart of the big kid hunt this year. Instead of walking around the front yard to find eggs laying in the grass, he got to race around the farm to locate the hidden eggs in haystacks and tall grass and dirt piles. The highlight was the new item this year: a pinata.

We drove home Sunday afternoon dirty and stuffed and tired and happy. So very happy. Another holiday in the books.