Easter weekend

We haven’t got our Easter celebrations down to a strict formula in this household, having celebrated a few in our own home, a couple at my grandparents’ farm, and the past several at my aunt & uncle’s rural home. With Aunt Terri & Uncle Richard in the midst of a move to Florida this past weekend and a few local obligations, we were content to stay home this year. The kids and I never feel we have as much time at home as we’d like, so two bonus days off of school felt like a gift, and we really took advantage! IMG_5964 Molly and Finn invited another sister-brother duo over to color Easter eggs and play games on Good Friday. Saturday morning found us all at the soccer pitch, bright and early. On Saturday afternoon, Shane and Finn received delivery of twenty straw bales and arranged them in the “gardening ditch” we share with our neighbors (more on this project soon!) while Molly and I hung out with our lovely girlfriends at the Schmidt house and then ran errands. April 20141

Finny’s basket included a sweet addition from Molly — a milk chocolate & caramel bar she purchased with her own money

Sunday was filled with radiant sunshine, a silly egg hunt in which a third of our hard-boiled eggs were snitched by a blackbird(!), and a crowded Mass. And there we were captivated by a lively 2- or almost-3-year-old seated in the pew ahead of us… She could not sit still, and it was evident her parents felt overwhelmed by this little gal — taking her shoes off, putting them on, repeat, repeat; lying down in the pew and scooting her head down where a stranger would soon take a seat; singing “Hot, hot, hot… We got it!”; opening books, shutting books; jumping into her mama’s arms for a snuggle, then slithering over her shoulder as though she was ready to dive head first for the pew; burrowing underneath the pew for a change of view; and so on…  along with her slightly older sister. It took me right back to the memories of trying to control Molly and Finn in church when they were about that age. It’s so frustrating being the parent in that situation. You think everyone around you is going to be offended. Little do you realize that the majority are likely smitten by those impish grins and dimpled fingers. This tot had Finn tickling her toes and Molly playing peek-a-boo in no time. “You the big sister?” she asked Molly. “You her boy?” she asked Finn. “You the big mommy,” she pronounced while pointing at me and cracking a huge, impish grin.

Next up, our homemade Easter lunch (links included for the new recipes we tried, which were fantastic!):

With such a beautiful afternoon before us and our little family all together (a rarity, it seems), we each offered ideas of ways to spend it and tried to do everything: bike ride, 4-square, garden planning, reading, petanque, and an episode of “Sherlock.” IMG_5977We’re all anxious for more sunny, warm days to come soon. Hope you had a happy weekend, too!


spring break 2014



We drove about 12 hours south last week, desperately searching for spring. Luckily, we found evidence that we will, eventually, be released from winter’s tight hold. Grass turned greener by the mile. We could have eaten our dinner in Brentwood, Tennessee, comfortably out-of-doors. Trees in Alabama sparkled with vivid young leaves. Purple wisteria blooms clung to anything they could — tree trunks, fences, the sides of old buildings.

When we reached our “Destin”ation along the Gulf coast of Florida, we knew we’d been successful. Just look at that view from our rented condo’s balcony…

Here, my favorite part… ocean.
IMG_5905 Our place, called The Crescent, was right on the beach. Temps were in the 70’s the first couple of days, gradually declining throughout the remainder of the week, but still nice enough to shed the winter coats and dip our toes (bravely) into the lapping waves on our walks.IMG_5892 This was our first trip to Destin (or, more technically, Miramar Beach). Other vacationers in the vicinity were mainly Midwestern or Southern families — not too many college students, most of whom likely traveled much farther south to ensure warmer weather and plenty of compatriots. So, our stretch of beach was fairly quiet — perfect for tossing balls back and forth and building castles.IMG_5893IMG_5901 IMG_5897 IMG_5903

Brrr!!!IMG_5900 IMG_5898

Sugar sand + aqua agua = blissIMG_5895 IMG_5906Who can resist a chance to occupy a vacant lifeguard’s post?

Or daydreaming about what it would be like to live in the pristine planned community of Seaside, Florida? Here, we drooled over the menus posted on a line-up of vintage Airstream campers-turned-food trucks, watched kids playing soccer in the colonial-looking schoolyard, peered down the narrow cobbled streets separating rows of immaculate and gorgeous homes, and considered numerous appealing tomes in the vibrant Sundog Books shop.IMG_5907 Here’s the book I chose. I’m sure you’re not surprised. The title, the book jacket, the subject — all right after my heart.IMG_5909A big part of our vacations is always food. We try to only eat at locally-owned, non-chain restaurants, so that we really get to know an area better, and we love trying new things. Our kids are pretty familiar with Asian cuisine and like most of what they’ve tried, but we’re always looking to Shane for chopstick tips. Here (above), we were at Basmati’s.
IMG_5917Contents of the vacation freezer: Yes, we are four greedy little pigs.
IMG_5910 Since they were missing a few track practices at home, we made the kids start a few days with jogs down the road to a little cafe. Finn will be happy to tell you all about BadAss Cafe — if only because he relishes the rare opportunity to use foul language!IMG_5913 Coincidentally, my cousin Brian, his wife Ann, and their great kids were also spending their spring break in Destin, so we got together one afternoon/evening. (And also enjoyed another evening with my brother Adam & his girlfriend, Kaitlyn, who were in nearby Panama City for a few days!)IMG_5915 IMG_5916 Who wears short shorts? Our little guy was joking around, but when he noticed I had my camera at hand, he quickly tried to unroll them — but barely could. “They’re stuck! They’re stuck!” he shouted.

The last couple days of our vacation were stormy — winds blowing, lightning flashing, waves crashing, and red warning flags waving. We played games, watched a couple of movies (including “Divergent” at a theater), read, soaked in hot tubs when we could. Our view changed a little bit, but it echoed the voice in my heart, always so sad to part ways with the ocean for an unknown number of days or years.
IMG_5920We’ll be back. Soon, I hope!