Happy Easter! Wow. Where do I start? It was quite an eventful day.
It started with a visit from the Easter Bunny, of course. The kids woke up to find their baskets full of candy and goodies. They weren't particularly interested in hunting for Easter Eggs hidden throughout the house (yes--the house; it was only 42 degrees this morning so it wasn't warm enough to go outside). Most of the eggs remained hidden until early afternoon when I remembered that eggs need to be refrigerated--especially if they are going to be consumed. So, I "found" them and brushed aside the notion that they were now tainted with salmonella. I decided to take my chances and turned them into deviled eggs and egg salad anyway.
Everyone ate miniature Milky Ways and Sweet-Tarts for breakfast. Then we got ready for church. Finn had the cutest little Easter outfit to wear but freaked out when I tried to put it on him. He wanted to wear his cowboy pajamas. I broke a sweat trying to wrestle his "nice" outfit onto him--it was like trying to dress an angry octopus. We made it to church just in time to sit in the very front row--which, as you likely know, means we didn't make it "in time" at all. Finn made it all the way to the Gospel (a personal best) before he started screaming. I left the kids in the watchful care of the priest and cantors while I took Finn into the hallway. There, he found a ball. Not a little candy-machine bouncy ball or a soft noiseless baby ball but a big obnoxious kick-ball with flames. He wanted to kick it up and down the hallway. I tried to stop him at first, but then I felt the atom-bomb-style aftershock of 800 people turning their heads in unison to see what had just made that deafening and reverberating shriek. So, I gave in as a courtesy to my fellow mass-goers and let Finn play with the ball in the hallway. This "fun" lasted until he decided he wanted to bring it out of the hall and into the church. I defended the invisible boundary between the hall and the church until communion was over and then we made our way out as I held Finn kicking and screaming and throwing his head back and doing the "wet noodle" (a strategy where he goes limp and sticks his arms straight up--making him long and slippery . . .).
After church, we went to the cemetery to visit Jeff's grave. The kids got him a Happy Easter balloon that we affixed to the shepherd's hook that holds his chimes. I was happy to see that part of his headstone has arrived--the base section. Hopefully, the rest isn't far behind. Aubrey said "Wow--it came on my birthday!" I'm glad she was happy about it.
For lunch, I made "Grandpa Johnny" ham (a traditional family recipe) and corn and mashed potatoes and biscuits and the kids and I ate in the dining room at the "fancy" table--even Finn. Then Jeff's parents and sister and brother-in-law arrived. Jeff's parents are taking the kids back to Branson with them tomorrow for most of the week. I will meet them later in Lincoln, Nebraska before I take the kids on to Hastings, Nebraska to visit my sister. She is having her new baby baptized and Aubrey and Regan are his Godmothers. The kids are very excited to go to Branson. Jack has had some trepidation, and has been very clingy to me lately, but has resigned himself to be brave and I think he'll have fun in spite of himself. I'm glad to see Finn being so affectionate to Jeff's mom and dad. He is especially fond of Jeff's dad, Gary, and hangs close to him, so I think he'll have an easy time. I'm sure it will be harder on me than on any of the kids. This will be the first time I've been alone since Jeff died and although the thought of a clean quiet house is enticing, I'm a little anxious about the quiet and the stillness and the boredom. On the other hand, I have so much to do at work and at home that I'm worried I won't have any downtime even though this is one of the few times I'll be able to enjoy it!
The other Big News is that today was Aubrey's 14th birthday! It's amazing to think that fourteen years ago I became a mother for the first time. I could not have imagined then that Jeff would not live to see this day. I wonder how often he thought about days like this as he was dying? He never lamented the loss of such occasions to me, but I can't help but think he considered the events he would never see. Nonetheless, I think Aubrey had a good day today. She opened presents and got a zillion phone and Facebook messages from her friends. Because she is the Birthday Girl, she got to choose our dinner menu. She chose steak, mashed potatoes, and "real" green beans (sauteed in butter and garlic). So, in her honor, we went all out and had Ribeyes, T-Bones, and Porterhouses. Jeff's dad and brother-in-law fired up the grill while Jeff's sister and I made the potatoes and green beans. Aubrey made and decorated her own birthday cake--a creative three-tiered masterpiece. Finn ate most of it himself. He had no fewer than three pieces and was quite indignant about demanding that Aubrey should hurry-up and blow out her candles so he could get down to business.
Now the kids are sleeping and resting-up for their Big Day on the road tomorrow. I will miss all of them so much. I will miss the way Finn's hands smell like Clorox wipes and how he always tells me "NO!" when I start singing. I will miss Jack's sweet hugs and long-winded narratives. I will miss Regan's happy personality and nightly attempts to negotiate her way out of having to take a shower. And I will miss Aubrey's companionship and sense of humor.
So, until next time . . .take care. I'll check in later this week and let you know how it's going.
Oh, and here's a translation of today's blog for my Mom and Sister since my semantic jujitsu has apparently stunned them into stupidity: "I like Easter Eggs. We eat candy. We go to church. My baby is naughty (pronounced: naw-dee, I know the whole "gh" in the middle there might trip you up). I like ham. Finn likes cake. It is Aubrey's birthday. She likes fancy meat from a cow. My kids go bye-bye. I am sad." And if you don't understand all that, I have another word you WILL understand. Well, it's not really a word--it's more like a gesture . . . (Ha ha hahahaha!) Happy Easter!