The Seamy Side of Easter!

I’ve participated or observed a lot of Easter Egg hunts in my life and can’t say that I’ve ever come away with a particularly good memory of any of them. The public or even church-sponsored Easter Egg hunts seem to turn into a survival of the fittest with many parents helping with the pushing and grabbing of eggs for their darlings.

When I was growing up, the first year our parish was completed and up and running, the pastor decided to have an Easter Egg hunt behind the church in the large grassy area of property. There was to be a hunt after each Mass with volunteers happily replenishing the eggs during the next Mass. Seems that even though we were quite rural, word got out and many neighbor children raided the grassy fields and the usual prejudice they usually had against us ‘encroaching Catholics’ didn’t mar the desire for ‘Catholic’ goodies set out for the parish children. Even with chasing off the interlopers, the onslaught of children from Mass disregarded blessings recently received there and laid siege to the field. There wasn’t another such event ever in the church after that.

Fast forward to when I had my own children: There was an Easter Egg hunt at our parish at the time, the first ever! My children were under five years old and very excited. The parish thought they had it figured out and set aside a lawn for the under five set with plenty of eggs in plain sight. Their flaw in the theory? When they sounded the beginning of the hunt, the older children ran across this area on their way to their hunting grounds . . . scooping up eggs as they went leaving the little ones standing in a harvested patch of grass, empty baskets in hand. I don’t think that parish ever hosted one again. And, yes, aggressive parents raced around with their children ‘helping’ them find the eggs. Something wrong with an event when children near shaving age have an overflowing bucket of eggs. It makes one wonder why people would fight so hard for hard-boiled eggs?

I recently read that a fire department in the US decided to cancel their plans for an annual Easter Egg hunt because the cost of possible lawsuits would be expensive. Again, the parents were the reason as they had had incidents of parents helping to push aside other children in order for their own ‘darlings’ to grab the most and best of any finds.

It must be something in the air once the world ‘Easter Egg Hunt’ is said out loud. I had a small family gathering, years ago, and thought that I could oversee a fun, safe, and Christian Easter Egg Hunt. I carefully schooled my children in being fair and charitable and not be greedy as they had already received generous baskets earlier in the morning from the Easter Bunny. Relatives arrived and the slightly older cousin whose mother bragged about being a near-saint in the making, pushed aside everyone ready to hunt, gathered up treats by the handful and had a great blocking mode to keep anyone else from getting anything. I guess you can say the kid won the event as he was the only one who got any treats. Guess who else never hosted an Easter Egg Hunt ever again?

Say to think that the ‘helpful’ parents at these events only provided them children with momentary treats while raising parents who would probably act the same way when they had their own children.

Being Sneaky in the Kitchen!

When the children were younger, they had limited tastes when it came to dinner. If it wasn’t fried, pasta, or pizza there would be exaggerated sighs of resignation as they moved their food about the plate in interesting but uneaten patterns. I recognized a declaration of war and began arming myself through the meals I cooked. Meatloaf, which for some reason they would eat now included finely ground carrots which were browned a bit with the also finely chopped onions. No complaints and no reality checks from the peanut gallery.

The seasoned tomato sauce for the pizza had steamed and pureed carrots and green beans in it. Blended with the tomato sauce, the opposing dinner forces never caught on. Initially, I had finely chopped and steamed carrots but a slightly larger bit of carrot caught the attention of one of the dinner-time police and I had to retreat and rethink strategy.

Spaghetti was the number-one favorite among my panel of judges. When I made a meaty tomato sauce, I would get a can of pinto bean, drain, rinse, and them puree them with some broth and add that to the sauce. The sauce would be creamy, meaty, and rapidly devoured by the family.

Have I shared these tips with my now older children? No, because, someday, they will have to deal with little versions of themselves and I think they should enjoy all the splendor of that period in their lives.

Did You Happen to See Where My Budget Went?

Budget, Children, and Uncooperative Husbands
by Barbara M. Barthelette

Budget has been a constant in our life as a one-income family. And even though we were offering up the ‘freedom’ of the outside workplace, God still saw fit to send us crosses particular to our station in life. I look back on those days with some nostalgia but am pretty sure I would rather not have to actually return to some of those mommy moments! Here is a particular memory on trying to maintain children and a budget!

We all have a sock basket of some sort. You know, the place we put the socks that come through the wash minus the mate they were made for! Our cross is that we will never match them all up, we will never get to the bottom of the sock basket and we will often find socks we don’t remember ever inviting into our homes. The size of the cross depends on the size of your sock basket!

Cooking can be a cross when it is days before payday and you have to be creative, not only in what you make but what you tell the children it is so they will eat it! That is why lids were invented for pots so family can’t come in and get preconceived notions about dinner.

Coupons for grocery shopping and special sales stretch the budget but can be a cross for the family. “Why do the fish still have their heads on?” They were on sale because they were cross-eyed. The store had to leave them on to make sure the customer knew this before buying. “How come you didn’t buy potato chips?” Goes back to the Irish potato famine. Still a shortage of potatoes. Check your history book.

Paper towels are a necessity in the kitchen. I usually end up with an empty roll and find ‘used’ paper towels all over the house. There were thirty paper towels, precisely separated and laid out on the floor from back door to bedroom. “We were pretending the floor was a deep river and the paper towels are stepping stones!” A sudden yell for help from the bathroom that there is a flood quickly tells me what they tried to use the rest of the paper towels for! They had used up the bathroom tissue to reenact The Mummy.

I keep trying to come up with time-saving, money-saving ideas to run my home happily yet frugally. I considered giving each person a sock basket of their own but quickly realized I would then probably have six or more baskets full of socks. I mean, what are the chances they would ever compare the contents of their respective sock collections?

I tried starting a rumor that potato chips were made from creamed zucchini, carrots and turnips but my gang figure that if it is fried, it can’t be all bad.

I tried assigning each their own roll of bathroom tissue. I thought I had a system figured out. I would keep written records and the stuff under lock and key. I would check out a roll to each person, initial and date the inside of the tube and make note of the distribution in my notebook. When they brought me their empty cardboard roll, I would check the first date, the date returned and give counseling on waste not, want not as needed. It didn’t get off the ground, My husband wouldn’t cooperate on this one. He said that if we weren’t a one-income family with mismatched socks and on a budget, he would take me on a long, long restful vacation.

Memories of a Home Schooling Mother

Memories of a Home Schooling Mother
by Barbara Barthelette

Thinking back on the years of homeschooling, I realized that the one thing that schooling the children at home that never happened was . . . boredom! Every day was an adventure . . . some more so than others. Fading back to a day long, ago . . .

I woke up one morning to a dust storm and realized it was raised by a sneeze not the weather. My house needed work. Messages would have to be written on paper from now on, the dust (among other things) would have to go. The holidays were long, long over and I couldn’t use Christmas or Easter as an excuse for any more delays. I needed to sit down today and get organized.

Immediately after breakfast (dishes would have to wait as this was important!), I began work on my list of priorities. After fifteen minutes of almost futile searching, I found a pencil stub and the back of a receipt. The first item on my list was buy pencils and writing paper and hide them from the family. Having just completed that thought in writing, the telephone rang. I returned ten minutes later to find the pencil stub gone. The doors were locked and the children said they didn’t take it.

I decided doing the dishes would enhance my organizational thoughts. I dumped the breakfast utensils in the soapy water, scraped the plates, turned on the disposal and the sink backed up. Organization went on hold as I crawled underneath the sink to dismantle the pipe and dislodged the orange peels that someone had tried to grind up earlier. My efforts were not in vain as I found a pencil behind the can of cleanser. The dishes went on hold again and I went back to my list only to find that it, too, had left the kitchen under it’s own steam. Armed with pencil, I went in search of paper, thinking that as a home schooling family, there must be at least one sheet of the stuff somewhere!

An unguarded sheet of notebook paper was discovered in the children’s bedroom. I scampered back to the kitchen table, ready to work on my list. My pencil had never been sharpened. I was in awe of actually seeing a whole pencil that hadn’t been cracked, broken or bitten through, however, it wasn’t much use without a point. The three older children have a pencil sharpener, color-matched to their notebook to avoid arguments. At this point in time, all the pencil sharpeners had left through those locked doors, unseen by anyone. It was time to fix lunch.

Lunch dishes joined the remaining breakfast clutter in the sink. I once again sat down to work on my organization list. I had kept tabs on my notebook paper and acquired a purple crayon of adequate length. I made some progress on my list as I kept track of the children’s school day, answering their questions and jotting down my own notes. List finally complete and school day done, I needed a book report from one of my offspring to bring the day to a close. The child insisted she had done the report but couldn’t produce the evidence. Realizing how lack of organization had slowed down the efforts of my own day, I got on my teacher/mom soapbox and delivered (what I thought) was an eloquent sermon of a place for everything and everything in it’s place. As I stood to make my exit, I waved my purple-crayoned list for emphasis. Said child brightened up at once and exclaimed, You have my book report! I left it in my room. How did you get it?” Suffice to say, I handed out an ‘A’ with little argument and decided that dusty tables were best for notes. Besides, the evidence can be erased easily.

Children, Aging, and Growing Old!

Without saying a word, just by being, children age you! Up until I had children, time seemed to hover over reality and, although I celebrated my birthdays, it didn’t seem to change the time factor much. Once you have children, however, they tend to become the measuring stick of your rapid aging process. Whereas you used to think back on events in a foggy but not that ancient past, you now have the years counted explicitly for you by way of your children.

When a child celebrates a birthday, it quickly brings to mind that another year has gone by and the child has changed. Suddenly, you glimpse an older person in the mirror and realize it it you. Time has sped up and you find yourself working harder at keeping track of the years as they quickly sift through your fingers!

Unless I can make the claim stick that I gave birth to all my children prior to age five, time is proclaiming the fact that while the children are growing up, I am getting older.

Two of my children are off on their own. My older son is  an author and he wrote the book in Chinese. Even my fourth child, my baby is almost twenty-two years old. My younger daughter had a job that actually lets her have keys to the building. Well, they didn’t know her at age five..  My husband often shakes his head and bemoans the fact that it all happened so quickly. We were so busy raising the children, we regret not always having time to stop and totally revel in the fact.

We are, however, blessed. My advice to the mothers with cranky babies, exhaustion, and not enough time to do what they want to do . . . relish it as it ends all too soon and you will have children who will willingly walk into the future on their own, two feet and you are left with the memories. Rejoice and be glad and be thankful and cherish the moments.P1060696-001