Friday, 27 April 2012

Our American-style Easter

I am learning that holidays are celebrated in different ways over here.  Valentine's Day was just for sweethearts and not really for children.  Mother's Day is celebrated here in March.  Although, Father's Day is celebrated in June just like in the U.S.  Hmmm, not sure why that is.  I just assumed that Easter would be celebrated like it is in the U.S.  Well, not exactly.  There are no pictures with the Easter Bunny here.  They do not sell plastic eggs.  It is not like the U.S. where you walk into Target and there are aisles and aisles of baskets, eggs, bunny ears, and candy galore.  They do sell Easter candy, but it is mostly chocolate eggs.  The only jelly beans I found were Jelly Bellies.

What about hunting for eggs?  My neighbor told me that her girls hunt for chocolate eggs.  Somehow it is set up so they find a small one first, and then each egg after that gets bigger and bigger.  We also saw some Easter egg hunts that were more of a scavenger hunt.  Instead of picking up plastic eggs, the children had to draw what they saw after each clue, and then they all received a chocolate egg when they finished.  I know that the Easter Bunny and plastic eggs are not what Easter is all about, but it sure makes the celebration of the day fun and memorable for kids. 

Luckily, our Easter Bunny packed up our baskets and plastic eggs to bring to England.  Our kids were almost as excited as they were on Christmas Eve when they went to bed on Holy Saturday.  Dylan, who is our early riser, woke up at 6:30.  Eric kept telling him he had to wait until 7:00 to go downstairs.  That was torture!  After waking Amelia and finding a few eggs hidden in their rooms, we all went downstairs at 6:50.  They were thrilled to see their Easter baskets full of treats, including a chocolate egg.  Amelia dug right into her candy.  When we turned around, she had eaten the top of her egg already.  They both squealed while hunting for eggs around the house.  Dylan was very concerned about getting the same amount of eggs as Amelia.  He asked for the Easter Bunny to leave a note telling how many eggs were hidden so they could split them evenly. 

Looking at the goodies in their Easter baskets

Dylan's note so he knew exactly how many eggs to find.

Amelia hunting for eggs in the playroom

Counting how many eggs they found...20 each!

Cute little bunny

She waisted no time.  She bit right into her chocolate egg.  Great breakfast!

Speaking of breakfast, Daddy made bunny pancakes.

Opening their gifts from Uncle Dan, Aunt Becca and Lily.  They love the new card games!
The kids opened their Easter gifts and enjoyed playing with their new things all afternoon.  We were able to get some decent family pictures in our garden (backyard).  We got to Skype with our families to wish them a Happy Easter.  Then, the Easter Bunny surprised Dylan and Amelia with more eggs hidden outside.  So they got to have another hunt.  Nana, Grandpa, Emily and Ben were able to watch this hunt while we did Skype.  That was nice, but we still wish we were in St. Louis with our families for Easter. 

All dressed up!

One of her first smiles caught on camera

Family picture time...not bad for having the camera on the patio table and setting the timer

Happy Easter!

My sweeties!


One more kiss

This was the best treat in our Easter basket!

Hunting for eggs in our backyard.  The funny thing was, Amelia is not usually a fast-mover.  While Dylan was shouting out where the eggs were, Amelia was sneaky and quiet.  She ran faster than we've ever seen her to collect eggs.

Amelia hunting for eggs

Dylan hunting for eggs

 We planned to go to church on Saturday evening so we could enjoy Easter morning at home.  We got everyone dressed and ready, drove into town and came to realize the mass was moved to 7:30pm that evening.  That was too late for our kids, so we headed home and read the Easter story from their children's Bible.  We had been talking about how Jesus died for us and came back to life on the third day.  My kids love to hear stories from their Bibles.  God is good!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Can you color tan eggs?

The kids were so excited to color eggs for Easter.  There were two problems.  First of all, the eggs here are TAN and not WHITE.  Secondly, they did not sell any kits with dyes here.  Luckily, we were having some friends over, and their mum is originally from the U.S.  She brought over two egg-dying kits that were mailed to them from the U.S.  We thought we would give it a try. 

The kits were a little different than what I was used to for coloring eggs.  These had small sponge rollers and paint trays to actually paint the eggs.  Surprisingly, the colors showed up very well.  More importantly, the kids had a great time painting their eggs! 

Our tan eggs

Dylan and Zac painting their eggs

Amelia painting her egg

Tobi helping with the chaos of Ben, Amelia, Zac and Dylan painting eggs

Finished products!  Lovely bright colors!

Amelia decorated her bunny cookie

Time for some fresh air.  We really had a fun time with our friends over.

Dylan and Amelia really wanted to color more eggs.  I told them we could try to use food coloring and vinegar to dye the eggs.  I mixed 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 cup of hot water.  Then, I added about 10-15 drops of food coloring.  I was curious to see if dropping them into colored dye would work as well as the paints did.  So on Good Friday, we colored eggs with Daddy.

Eggs are boiled and dyes are ready

We used crayons to decorate them before coloring them.
Cora wanted to join in the fun!

Better view from up here

Dylan's finished eggs and his ice cream bar

Amelia's finished eggs and her drumstick

So, YES, tan eggs can be colored!  They actually hold the color really well.  I was impressed!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Easter school again

The kids were off school the week before Easter and the week after Easter.  It was so nice to take the mornings slow and spend some time in our p.j.'s.  We stayed busy building forts, playing outside, making playdough, baking cookies, doing puzzles and getting out just about every toy in our house. 

The school calendar here has several more breaks than a U.S. school calendar.  The school year here runs from September 1st to July 20th.  They only have 6 weeks of  "summer" break.  They have a week and a half off in late October, two weeks of for Christmas and New Year's, a week off in February for half-term, two weeks off in April for Easter, one day off in May for May Day, and a week off in June for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Holiday.  This year is Queen Elizabeth's 60th year reigning as the Queen of England.  There will be a huge Diamond Jubilee celebration in June.  I am not sure if this is usually another half-term break or not.  Of course, they do not celebrate the 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, President's Day, or Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Most U.S. schools have a total of around 180 school days per year.  Here in Chippenham, they have a total of 194 school days.  I was a teacher for seven years, and I know the importance of school.  However, I feel that children need more than six weeks off for the summer.  They need time to be kids.  Children learn so much outside of school through their experiences. 

Although two weeks was a long break, it went by quickly.  Here are some memories of those days off.

She's the third one to wear this "I love uncle dan" onesie. 

Just chillin in my swing.

Dylan LOVES to set up his cars on display.  They are all placed strategically depending on who they are.  He is such a collector, and no one is allowed to mess up his display.

Building a fort, or more like a mountain, on the couch 

Amelia helping me wash bottles.  She loves to help with everything, which is great, but sometimes I need a bit more patience.  Of course I could get things done faster without her help, but I try to let go of my Type A personality once in a while.  She had fun here, and although there was water all over the cabinet, counter and chair, it was worth the extra time and mess.

I love "talking" with Cora on my lap after she nurses.  You can see my fun pink socks.  Every mommy needs to put her feet up occassionally.

Dylan wrote, "Dad is a good dad and mom is a good mom and Amelia is a good sister and Cora is a good little baby."  So sweet!  He loves to write these days, and he is quite a good speller! 

Hanging out with Daddy

She was mad because the frog was not giving her any milk.

We went to lunch at Mc Donald's one afternoon for a special treat.

Aunt Carrie sent a special package with Easter gifts.  They wanted to try out their cars and princess chalk.  Dylan wrote this with just a little help spelling. 

They were trying to catch the big bubbles.  Good 'ole dish soap and water always makes the best bubbles.

She was fixing the fence. :)

Happy baby girl

Pure LOVE!
Hanging out in our jammies

Pure love again!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Back To Reality

After three wonderful weeks with grandparents here, it was back to reality with just the five of us.  Was it busy? Yes!  Was is hard?  At times.  Did we adjust?  Of course.  I think I took a nap almost every day that week to make up for all of the exploring we did the past three weeks.  The hardest time for me was the mornings.  I was quite impressed that day when I had all three kids dressed, fed, and in the car by 8:30 for school.  I do recall a baby feeding on my chest while pouring Cheerios and packing a lunch one day.  And there were times when brushing hair at the kitchen table was necessary to get out the door on time, but we made it.  Here are some moments from that busy week...

1 Month Old

Same size as the teddy bear, but not for long

Checking out the Baby Einstein gym.  Amelia is right there, always.

They wanted to dress up and then play outside.  The funny thing was, Dylan could barely get his Iron Man costume on.  He has grown!  But he wore it anyway.

Iron Man and Buzz Lightyear on their bikes

How do I manage three?  Like so.

This sleeping on the couch thing isn't so bad


Even more precious

Sweet, sweet big sister

Today was gorgeous weather!  We walked to pick up Dylan from school.

My little princess wanted to give the skateboard a try.  Yes, with a dress on, bow in and pink cowgirl boots on.  She does not have the best balance, so I held her hand and "pulled" her back and forth.  She is a hoot!

The rocking chair put them both right to sleep.

My little Mommy helper always wants to hold Cora. 

My girls

Bath time. Even "Belle" and Dylan are helping.  If you could only see how small this bathroom really is, you would laugh at the fact that we were all five in there!

Dylan's reading has TAKEN OFF!  It clicks at different times with different kids, and his clicked!  He loves to read, especially to Cora.  We are so proud of him! 

They wanted Mommy to read a story in Amelia's room too.  I love reading to them every night, and I am so glad they love reading too. 

We made it through this week.  The days fly by when I feed Cora every three hours.  The next two weeks, Dylan and Amelia are off school.  It will be nice to take it slow in the mornings, but we are going to have to stay busy.  We'll have some Easter fun!