Out With the Old DISHES!

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And so it’s yet another night writing alongside my hard-working husband…You may be getting sick of me, but I am kind of enjoying my time at the computer lately.  :)  I’ve had this little piece saved for quite a while now (since before our latest move), and thought I should finally finish it once and for all! Let’s talk dishes!

Dishes are something I am just NOT into. I mean, I LOVE how they look when OTHER people use their fancy printed ones alongside their beautifully coordinated place settings; they’re just not for me. For one, I can never decide on a print OR a color.  I just can’t commit to a look I may be stuck with for quite a few years.

Plus, they chip.  Like right away.  Pretty sure I have chipped some coming straight out of the NEW box.  And if you are like our family, you will break some…or many…and you’ll end up with a couple mismatched sets in your cabinet.  And this takes up A LOT of space.

I’ve been kind of sick of my chipped dishes for a while. For the longest time we were using a set my parents purchased for us at an auction. When they chipped, my husband bought me a red set for my birthday. They looked really nice until we actually started using them. Needless to say, they’ve been chipped forever; I just haven’t had the desire to spend money on new ones doomed to the ill fate of <gasp> daily usage.

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That was until I came across Clean Planetware

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Clean Planetware offers stainless steel dishes and storage containers made from high grade steel that is BPA, toxin, lead, and lining free; these are things that may be concerning to parents of young children, those inclined to live more simply, and those troubled by the health detriments associated with the use of these items.   Personally, I share in these concerns. I also particularly like that I am not only able to utilize the dishes for daily use, but that they are also versatile enough for our stove or toaster oven. (We rarely use our microwave, but if you do, DO NOT put them in the microwave!  You could possibly start a fire!  The dishes ARE dishwasher safe, however.)

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Additionally, since stainless steel does not break or rust, these are promised to last a lifetime.  No more chipped or broken plates or cups at this house (or in the trash)…and the BEST and most surprising aspect of our switch, you may ask?? These dishes take up considerably less space in our cabinet.

Before…a cramped cabinet.

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After…a cabinet with much more room.  I even moved items from other spaces into this same spot!

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AND, I will NEVER have to buy dishes AGAIN!

The downfalls…

  • These dishes tend to get really hot, really fast, so we wait for food to cool slightly before serving it on these plates to our kids.
  • My husband says that he feels like he is eating in prison now.  But that feeling will wear off…Right?!  Because my food has got to be WAAAYY better than that!

:)

**I received no compensation for this product’s review.**

Fotos Friday! (Oops, It’s a Video!)

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Of course Baby #4 would start doing this AFTER I wrote about his milestones last week! We are so excited that he may be WALKING soon!

**Please ignore the loud, bossy, and annoying voice in the background! It’s really NOT me! ;) **

Happy Video Friday!

A Simple, Low-Cost Gift

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You may be wondering why I am whipping out so many (well, more than normal, I guess) blog posts lately. Per usual, my husband is working into the wee morning hours and I hate to leave him downstairs slaving away alone…so here I am. Again. I should really go get something else completed!

This is important though! ;)

Because I’ve also been spending a lot of time on Pinterest in the evening ;) …mostly looking up home decor, the latest fashion (yes, I am obsessed), and recipes, but I happened to come across an idea for a teacher’s Christmas gift (or grab-bag gift) that I really like. And since I am usually not that good at planning the perfect present for our teachers ahead of time, I am quite proud of myself to have already completed this gift! Please click this link to view the original idea.

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A To Do Board!

This gift was super easy to make, low-cost, and original (in my opinion).

To make, you will need the following items:

  • A picture frame. I bought ours at the Dollar Tree for a $1.
  • Notebook paper. We already had this on-hand.
  • Stickers for the To Do message. I also purchased these at the Dollar Tree for $1.  I placed the stickers directly on the paper and then placed the paper inside the frame.
  • Decorative Flower(s). Being the somewhat crafty self that I am, I also had these on hand, but the embellishment could be made easily from spare fabric, a fabric remnant, faux flowers, a bow, almost anything! I used a hot glue gun to secure the flowers to the frame.
  • Some sort of string. I like to use twine for many things, so I also had this on hand. Ribbon would too be appropriate, or any type of yarn. The original idea did not attach the marker to the board, however I thought this added a nice touch to the creation.
  • Dry-erase markers. Again, these were available at the Dollar Tree and one package contained 4 markers (you guessed it-only a $1).
  • I also chose to add a gift card for Starbucks and a little message to the board! I think it made the gift seem a little less cheap, unique, and more thoughtful. Plus, the list displays what the intention of the board is.

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It only took me about 30 minutes to make 3 of these!

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What do you think?  I hope our teachers find them as fun as I did!

Happy crafting!

<3

Santa, Maybe?

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Upon picking Baby #3 up from school today, he informed me, “Mom, you were wrong.”

They had just returned from a field trip touring an old town mansion and Santa happened to be visiting there.

“Oh yeah,” I said. I already knew what he was referring to. He has been giddy about Santa this year, despite the fact that we told him of Santa’s myth. “Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because Santa is real. I saw him today. He told me that he is real, and his beard was real,” Baby #3 described his interaction with Santa.

I was secretly smiling to myself. Not because he had belief in the character, but because he was using his imagination and was thinking for himself. If you recall, I wrote about our holiday tradition change-up last year.  Since then, we have reiterated the REAL reason for the season, but somehow the idea was lost to Baby #3. He is positive. Santa is real.

“I told him that I wanted an Xbox,” he continued.

“Really. What did Santa say about that?” I was hoping he didn’t promise it to him. Not that I plan to buy it…I can hardly stand the Wii and other electronic devices we have at home right now.  The whole issue was just starting to get a little too complex.

“He said he would have to check into that,” Baby #3 explained.

For a minute, I was relieved. But I also felt sad. Should I give into this want for the sake of Christmas? The spirit of giving? The Season of Hope?

I quickly brushed my thoughts aside. You see, I am a pretty straight forward person. We told him that Santa was not real. We said that we could pretend and think about how cool it would be if Santa were real, and we enjoy movies about Santa and Christmas in general. But the REAL meaning of Christmas is JESUS.

Not Santa.

Santa is not real.

“You know Santa is not real, right?” I tried to start the conversation again.

“He’s real, Mom. Parker (a child in his class) said that if I don’t believe, I will be on the naughty list for the rest of my life!” he was certain his classmate knew more about Santa than I did.

For the sake of his emotions at that moment, I dropped the conversation. I knew we would talk again about the realness of Santa and the true meaning of the season. Baby #3 was passionate about Santa for now; swayed by his magical splendor and the bright lights provided by his temporary excitement. It is tempting to believe that the world has something more to offer other than the true gift God gives us at Christmastime. I will admit; I’ve fallen for this sentiment too. But the idea is not lasting and it is not secure, and there is no hope in presents. Or cookies. Or the booming blow-up yard displays that litter this season.

Eventually, Baby #3 will grasp the true meaning of Christmas; I am certain. And it will probably be on Christmas morning when there is no Xbox to be found. As his mother, I am worried about that. Worried that somehow we may ruin his Christmas, and dull his passion and his spirit for this holiday. But we would be miserably failing him if we went back on our word and offered him something other than what we promised the true meaning of Christmas to be. (And I would be LYING. And you know my feelings on THAT!)

And in the midst of it all, I am happy that he believes in Santa right now. Not because I think it is the right belief, but because he is learning his own way and challenging the norm in our family. And because he is believing and trusting in something that he can’t really see. And that’s Christianity. That’s faith. And in that, is real hope for something unchanging and everlasting.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

And if we are doing our job how we hope to be, someday he’ll understand that too.

Luke 2:9-12 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Merry CHRISTmas!

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Meeting Milestones Late

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I was intending to have some really great and enlightening ;) ;) posts written for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month (October) and National Adoption Month (November), but obviously that just didn’t happen. And although I was hoping to use this blog somewhat as an advocacy for both, I have recently failed miserably…

As the definition cited by Google states, an advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. As an advocate of both Down syndrome AND adoption by this blog, I most certainly will support (via conversation, information, or other ways as I deem appropriate) individuals choosing to adopt in general (or with special need), however I will not recommend this cause to everyone, nor do I believe this is a choice for all people. And as an advocate for Down syndrome alone, I am hopeful that a glimpse into our life, although unconventional from many families, will prove that different IS normal and all life is precious and deserving, even to those with trials most may never face.

Part of this blog’s advocacy with regards to children with Down syndrome includes documenting and revealing both positive (and negative) things about Baby #4’s challenges, and sharing in particularly those things related to Baby #4’s overall development. I’ve been meaning to keep up with these milestones in written form, however his accomplishments have been slower than my other children’s. And as a black-and-white thought-thinker myself, I don’t feel like EVERY uncertainty needs to be elaborated on or explained upon in detail. Delays with Baby #4 ARE expected. This is normal. He is normal for him. We treat him much like our others at home.  To expatiate on every issue so that he stands out more than he already may to those unfamiliar with Down syndrome is not something I intend to do, but instead plan to privately manage most things within our family unit and alongside support of outside sources so that Baby #4 can reach his fullest potential.  I do desire to update on times of progress and struggle, but hope these posts do not dwell on Baby #4’s disability and instead focus on motivating and celebrating newfound capabilities.

To aid Baby #4’s overall achievement, he does receive both speech and physical therapies weekly; besides the help, encouragement, and stimulation found at home. These are currently the only services he uses and their use is quite common among many children, even in some which are “typical”. Other than the annular pancreas issue, Baby #4 has never had any feeding issues, required a long-term tube feeding, or has had any other medical intervention other than that to progress his already inherent set of skills. Please do not compare your child to mine. All children progress differently and in their own stages. Slow progression and detours are not always indicative of a lack of success.

With that being said, I would LOVE to share some of Baby #4’s successes and give you a glimpse of his personality. BIG milestones (not all) and other fun things will be posted in chronological order:

6 months old: Baby #4 can roll over and mimic some expressions and sounds.

• At and around 10 months old: Baby #4 had 3 surgeries.  Since these operations were mostly abdominally placed and his diagnosis prior to them was deferred, he was quite delayed in gross motor skills for some time.

12 months old: Baby #4 can sit up independently. His first teeth started to come in around this time too. He now hates ALL haircuts, but he loves him some bath time!

15 months old: Baby #4 can feed himself with his hands and he has started crawling. He has begun to say sounds and a few words more clearly.

18 months old: Baby #4 can pull himself up to standing. He can use a sippy cup appropriately. His vocabulary is expanding. We know for certain that he can say his oldest brother’s name, has a specific word to reference the dogs, uses “all done” appropriately at mealtime, and can say “Dada” (of course he has said this for a while…still no sign of “Mama”). He also does a really cute “kissy face” on demand…

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Kissy Face…

20-21 months old: Baby #4 can climb the stairs alone, however supervision is still necessary. He also cruises upright around the furniture independently. He picked up an evil laugh from one of the kids’ movies; it is quite funny!  Sign language is clicking slowly…

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Stair Climber!

The Evil Laugh…

After meeting with our new location’s therapists, they have both concluded that Baby #4’s developmental age is at about a 10-12 month old presently. This is NORMAL for him and others with Down syndrome! It does not mean that his basic skills will be limited or that he will need these services life-long. This estimation only shows where he is today; it does not say where he is going tomorrow or the next day… And as scared as we were of our adoption’s journey in the beginning, hopeful thoughts now have replaced that fear. We are so proud of Baby #4’s recent accomplishments!

I am not so proud of my advocacy (or lack thereof)…but on a brighter note…

I AM proud of my children, who, in their own way, have definitely stepped up their game in the advocacy department! Since moving to a new area, Baby #1 has continually introduced his youngest brother and has added, “He has Down syndrome”, to the introduction! And when Baby #3 is asked if he likes being a big brother, he almost always responds with, “He’s adopted”. All of which are good conversation starters for me, I suppose…but do sometimes add a bit of awkwardness to the discussions.  Either way, both comments are certainly spreading awareness and acceptance of others in different circumstances. I feel very proud to have children who so openly proclaim Baby #4’s differences, and who can also explain each circumstance (the Down syndrome diagnosis and the meaning of adoption) so plainly and with hints of normalcy about our situation in their tones.

Down Syndrome is NOT scary or THAT much different or disappointing. Baby #4 is making his own path.  It is new.  And challenging.  And funny.  AND NORMAL!  Just like my others’.  Even my older kids think so!

wpid-2014-11-28-12.37.12.jpg.jpegPlease feel free to contact me privately with questions related to adoption or experiences with Down syndrome!

A Friend Tribute

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When I was younger, I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what type of friend was good for me. And over the years, I’ve learned that the definition of a good friend is different to almost everybody. Besides sharing likenesses and a willingness for friendship, the most important things to me found in a friend include trust, respect, openness, acceptance, and even loyalty to some degree. (I also am a fun-lover, so please back out now if you are the uptight kind.) After having some failed friendships and disappointments, I’ve learned that others do not always find these attributes at the top of their own lists.

I’ve also learned that it is sometimes hard to spot a good friend. Maybe you can pick out people like this from your past. I certainly can, and I was most definitely a “bad friend” at one point or another too. Without going into details of course, a few friend “types” quickly come into my head…

Fake friends, for example. You know them, I’m sure. They are the “friends” who only come around for the fun and bail when times change or get tough. These are people who may drop you as a friend for another…or maybe they are just the back-stabbing, information-seeking type. For me, these types of friendships are truly the most heartbreaking since the relationship did not obviously appear one-sided in the beginning.

What about forced friends? Granted, these friendships aren’t nearly as messy, but they are sometimes equally as dreadful. Time has never stood more still than when I’ve had to try to relate to someone on a totally different wavelength than myself. Certainly we’ve all been in this situation. A friendship like this might exist because of your children or spouse.

Anyone have a friend that only comes around when invited or when your help is needed? This is also known as a one-sided friendship. I usually avoid these. People like this really do not have interest in investing the time and energy it takes to be a friend.  Personally, I don’t have a need to constantly only “help” out, or to prompt and encourage a friendship relentlessly. You are either in or you’re out; you’re with me or you’re not. Honestly, can a decision be made already?!

When I moved to town H four years ago, I had almost given up on having really good, lifetime friendships again. Although I desperately missed the groups of friends I shared so many memories with in the past, I figured being a mom and my children’s socialization were more important than me relating with someone on a regular basis. And although I am a pretty extroverted person, I can easily be introverted as well, and instead delve into a project rather than try to “make” friends. Thankfully, town H did not disappoint me, and I am now blessed with many I happily call Friend!

I have a totally rad group of friends! And yes you CAN sit with us. We aren’t that type of group. We are women from completely different backgrounds and ways of thinking (yes, you will know our opinions…or at least mine-sorry, Ladies!). These are women that I completely respect, admire, and love. Our bonds are almost family-like, although sometimes I think that they are just as strong because unlike family where our ties are pre-chosen, we choose to be friends. We choose to love each other regardless of our imperfections and oddities. We choose to step-up when everyone else is stepping back. We choose to share our flaws, our fears, and our secrets. We support one another, regardless of the situation, and give honest advice and feedback. I feel energized after spending time with a group so fun and rich in experience and warmth.

Unfortunately for me, though, I said see-ya-later to my dear friends of town H recently. I am very sad to see this chapter of my life close. I credit my growth as a person to my friendships with these Girls, and am thankful to have grown as a woman alongside of some of the best. I have gained confidence from their encouragement, and peace from their welcoming spirits.

I have also grown as a mother. I am more trusting of others and more relaxed as a parent. I am so appreciative to have had many friends love my Littles with much gusto and acceptance.

I have grown as a friend. It feels good to share your time with others and ponder different viewpoints. Although I try to be non-judgmental, I continually am challenged by my friends to re-evaluate my stances and look at things in different ways. I am forever grateful for their openness and respect for my beliefs and values.

Beyond words, I am also blessed to have such beautiful, close friends of whom I share many similarities and enjoy many of the same interests with. There is nothing like spending time with someone who “gets” your insanity and appreciates your eccentricities; being in the company of someone who laughs with you and cheers you on. Friendships like these are truly once-in-a-lifetime, and I will cherish forever the memories and moments shared with the friends who have touched my soul, made me happy, and gave me hope.

Life is different now without my friends a text away, without my extended family close by, and without the familiar comfort that town H brought to me and my family daily. The joy of our day-to-day routine has faded some, and the excitement that a new school year normally brings is clouded with uncertainty. The realist that I am does not believe that friendships comparable to what I’ve described will be found in city G, our new “home”. Right now, positivity in our house is low and we are questioning why we have been placed in such an unfamiliar and far-away place. Of course, I am NOT complaining about our placement here (especially since I firmly believe we are to be held accountable by our own decisions), but instead am waiting for its reason, and reluctantly looking ahead for our new “normal”.

And although I am sure it will come sooner than I think, today I am grateful to have memories and hope that were brought to me courtesy of friends who loved me regardless, treated my kids like their own, and who shared their lives and hearts openly and honestly, and without exceptions. Especially now that my days are quieter, I treasure these memories made with my town H friends; thankfully praising Him for putting them alongside me for a short while!

Until we gather again, Ladies!

<3

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Another School Year Past

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I am way behind on my blogging…I have completely missed my goal of writing at least once every other week. To the few of you that follow us…I’m Bbaaacckk…for today anyway! Thank you to those who actually read and encouraged me to get back on the horse!

Friday is our last day of school here! At that time Baby #1 will be officially going into third grade, Baby #2 into first grade, Baby #3 into junior kindergarten, and Baby #4 will be just over 15 months old. It is true when they tell you that time flies after children are born…it really has. The beginning and end of each school year always hit me pretty hard. They are a staunch reminder of how fast my kids are growing up and encourage me to reflect on my role as their parent.

As I look back on time passed, it makes me sad to recall the many mistakes I made as a new parent and annoyed by some ill-decisions I make each day. I find it hard to break the cycle, if you will, when it comes to child rearing, and repeatedly fall for the endless ploy that somehow there is a perfect parenting style to be found. Although I know there is no such thing as a “perfect mother”, it frustrates me that my grace can be lacking, my pace is sometimes hurried, and my tone is sporadically harsh. I feel like my efforts to conform to today’s idea of family perfection (ie. a perfectly healthy and active lifestyle, beautifully adorned and well-behaved children, a meticulously decorated home, and a high social presence within the community and among friends) are often thrust at my children and therefore periodically setting unrealistic expectations for them.

Obviously, these are my issues…and I’m working on them!

If you are like me, you sometimes may find yourself to be overwhelming to yourself…yes, you read that right. I constantly question ALL my decisions based on current research, others’ experiences, my preferences, and the list goes on. If you can believe it, occasionally my past decisions based on all the above criteria turned out to be just plain wrong! The experts were wrong! I was wrong! How could I get something like research or data completely incorrect?!

And sometimes I just can’t get past the control I lose yearly as each child grows a little older and a little more independent of me. I question whether I did enough to instill a sense of faith, worth, respect, loyalty, confidence, humbleness, and kindness. I miss their former reliance on me and the abundance of affection they once shared.

From time to time my example at home is poor…I can’t always maintain a perfect home, keep up with our laundry, make time for each child alone, and I am pretty sure my husband and I haven’t had a date without the kids or other obligations during this past year and beyond. There are days when I don’t get to the shower, let alone look respectable to a chance visitor.

Sometimes I wonder what my children actually see when they look at me. And if I happen to snap at one of them over something petty…well that just has to be an ugly sight.

And yet somehow my children are thriving…Fishing 2014

To you, my Little Ones, you amaze me and have changed my life forever. You are why I awkwardly strive to be a better person and a more competent mother, and why I question my motherly example on a daily basis. Despite the flaws I carry with ME regularly, I could not be happier with how YOU are turning out. Here is what I see in YOU:

Baby #1, my oldest, my Golden Boy and our Supervisor… The potential I see in you astonishes me. Although I absolutely love how well you follow the rules at home and adore your respectable nature, I hope someday you will not follow our rules so literally and be courageous enough to step outside of your comfort zone and take a chance. I pray that you will never lose your sense of kindness and determination, and that people will continue to find peace with you and your loving spirit. Please do not take others’ criticism to heart. May your strength always be your obvious love for all people.

Baby #2, my only girl, Bunny as I call her… Every challenge I ever faced as a child I see in you. I feel your quiet nature and lack of confidence. You desire more than anything to love and be loved. I hope I am always brave enough to share with you my mistakes so that you are spared of their consequences. May we as parents continually encourage you to let your beauty from within shine out, as beauty like yours is not something you can buy, but is something shown to others. I feel special to be one of the few people to know the real Baby #2. Let your light glow amongst those who appreciate your soul.

Oh Baby #3, or Bear Boy, my challenging one… Fortunately for you, stubborn is found on both sides of our family. Luckily, though, your funny ways make up for the tests you give me daily. I love your fiery side and rash spontaneity, however please don’t let your fun override your intellect. Under all that independence sleeps an intelligent boy full of ideas and beautiful animation. Use your personality for good and seek those who want you to succeed. My momma’s boy, you are. Don’t ever let life dull your spunk. Your outgoing nature takes over every room.

My newest Love, Baby #4 or Baby Boo… I sometimes wonder how we got so lucky to have you placed with our family. You are my patient one; your perseverance amazes me. You love all kisses and hugs, and only you would be so gracious as to enjoy my singing. I love how you gaze at me like I am the most amazing human on the planet. I continually pray that I will be enough mother for you. That I will have the strength to be your forever advocate and warrior, and provide you with sufficient faith and hope to get you through challenges that lie ahead. Keep passing on that smile-it is contagious!

The blessing to be called Mom by four very different children, all with varying gifts and challenges, is humbling. Even when I am at my worst, I look at them and know that tomorrow is going to be a better day. My kids keep me determined and soft. When they look back one day, maybe they will see that my love for them was complex; that I wanted them to live in a beautiful, clean, and organized home filled with family and friends, but this balance was sometimes hard for me to find.  I hope they understand instead that our cluttered, modest home and occasional searches through clean laundry piles were such so that I could get them to an extra activity or play group. Recalling our sometimes hurried life, may they smile and miss the chaos and love they had at home. And when they only rarely get to spend alone time with Mom or Dad individually, may they be grateful for the moments we spent TOGETHER, as those times are few and far between too.  Our challenges and struggles I am beginning to embrace…

I’m slowly learning that there’s no need to be perfect to be a good mom; that it is better to influence my children with my presence and best efforts at home.  Therefore, it is important for them to see me accept my own personal imperfections and failures; may my affirmation and resolve give them the courage to confidently live their own lives imperfectly, contented, and determined.  As this school year comes to a close, I am at ease letting SOME of my previous insanity regarding our children’s upbringing slide so that we are able to enjoy life to its fullest in our home. As much as I long for the ideal life so eloquently implied by other bloggers, I cherish the reality I have here and am thankful for OUR REAL, perfectly imperfect life.  Someday maybe my kids will relish in their past too!

A related thought…

“You are enough.  Not because you did or said or thought or bought or became or created something special, but because you always were.”

 <3

 

Traditions Anew

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We decided to quit celebrating holidays the “traditional” way this year. In the past, we (meaning multiple family members and my husband and I) had indulged our children with gifts from Santa, the Easter Bunny, and even the Tooth Fairy. Although it was fun to see the temporary delight on our kids’ faces when ‘Santa’ came to town, a part of me was a little disappointed in myself…that we (meaning my husband and I) had let the excitement for material things during holiday time go too far; that we had played a part in materializing our children and somewhat distorting their view of some very important religious holidays.

Both my husband and I grew up in Christian homes. In recent years, we both have noticed that religious festivals have taken a backseat to “holiday” celebrations, and that many choose to celebrate holidays abundantly and with little reverence to the historical meaning behind these yearly events. Now by stating this, I am not criticizing how anyone chooses to celebrate their holidays. I am just questioning why anyone would celebrate a holiday, such as Easter, if the person has or desires no ties to the past of its celebration.

Since Easter is just around the corner, I decided to clarify historically (notice I did not mention religion here) WHY Easter is really celebrated to see if I was missing something regarding the upcoming holiday and its hoopla.  I found the following on Wikipedia (Yes, sorry for my lack of sources!):

Easter is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are identical or very similar. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the churchand decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb.

Wikipedia also had much to say about the Easter Bunny:

The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus, and Aelian) that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. It may also have been associated with the Holy Trinity, as in the three hares motif, representing the “One in Three and Three in One” of which the triangle or three interlocking shapes such as rings are common symbols. …Additionally, according to legend, “a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, little knowing what had become of Him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed by His animal friend. That evening, when Jesus’ disciples came into the garden to pray, they discovered a path of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the patience and hope of this faithful little creature.”

After quickly reading through those historical summaries, it was obvious to me that Easter is most definitely a historic and religious celebration! Therefore as a Christian, I certainly do not want my kids to be JUST excited for the gifts and the splendor, but for the true promise of salvation that Easter brings.

And to be honest, I am really SICK of living the lie and playing the expectation game at holiday time.

If you know me well enough, you know I HATE to lie. I am NOT saying that I haven’t lied (because that would not be true!!), but I don’t like to do so. Lying is misleading and manipulative; and it ultimately leads to MORE lying. After some hesitation, we decided to end for good our fibbing regarding the fictional holiday characters, and instead embrace the true gifts to our children that each holiday brings by itself.

I was really expecting the worst…tears, dramatic questions, disappointment. As I sat at the table with my oldest three children sometime after the New Year, I told them that there was something important that Mommy wanted to tell them. I started with Santa and explained that he was not real, that he was an imaginary figure made up to encourage giving and good spirit at Christmastime. I explained that since we are Christian, we celebrate Christmas for the sake of Christ’s birth; and because of what Christ did for us through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, we want to be giving and joyful all year round. At that point, they started to cut in with questions… ”so the Santa we saw at Grandma’s is fake?” someone asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

More questions… “And the ones in the movies aren’t real?”

“No, they aren’t real. Santa is just for fun. Jesus is the reason for all the holidays,” I explained.

“Even the Easter Bunny?” asked my oldest (who I thought may have already been onto us).

“Also fake. Daddy is the Easter Bunny. He gets up really early and puts out the eggs. You see, the Easter Bunny and Santa know what you like because Mom and Dad ARE Santa and the Easter Bunny,” I answered.

Baby #2 then hopefully chimed in, ”I get it, Mom. YOU are Mrs. Claus and Daddy is Santa.”

“No, Dear, we just pretend we are. Our family can still pretend at holiday time, but the characters are not for real. We celebrate Christmas and Easter because Jesus was born and died for our sins,” I continued to review.

And surprisingly, that was it!  No tears.  Their complete understanding and total acceptance came forth. After a few hugs, they were even on to a new topic! And I think I felt almost a sense of relief from them; that they finally understood who these magical people were and how they knew everything about them.

Occasionally now, my kids will tell ME what they want from us for Easter or Christmas. And when Baby #2 lost a tooth she said, “So Mom, you can just pay me now then.”

Pretty awesome. How I love the sound of truth!

By reading this, I hope you decide to examine the importance, focus, and REASON for your holidays. For us, the truth is found in history and its relevance alone is meaningful to our family.  Religion has deep historical roots.  Even when I attempted to put it aside in a mini quest for different Easter origins, I found no other explanations.  Understanding the history of our holidays and the importance of religion to our family’s spiritual health, we decided to minimize the pomp of imaginary characters and the subsequent high expectations of materialism. And like choosing to be Christian, we also choose to celebrate historical religious festivals with less grandeur and more hope and thankfulness.

At our house, we will still pretend to have these fictional characters visit during holiday time because our kids are young and it is fun! We will definitely NOT be focusing on the importance of their visits or gifts, however, but instead on each holiday’s truth and their hope that lights our way…even when we lose it.

John 3:16-17  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

easterpicOPLT

 

 

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