On Failed Traditions and Happy Easters

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Remember last week when I wrote about my ride-or-die approach to traditions? Let me tell you how the new Easter traditions I tried to squeeze in this year went down.

A) Cascarones: Hit three stores to try and find them already made, and they were gone. Didn’t feel like cramming confetti through a small hole of an egg to make my own, so that one’s out.
B)  Eppers: The dog got into our hard boiled egg stash (don’t ask me how) which resulted in a pile of rotten egg vomit on my new floors, so that one’s out.
C) Glitter-turned-into-swirly-lollipops: I had this one. I mean, never mind the fact that World Market ran out of their big swirly lollipops so I had to get the corkscrew swirly lollipops instead, or the fact that I realized when we went to sprinkle the glitter that we didn’t have any glitter. But the kids were so excited about this new discovery–that the Easter Bunny will actually turn glitter into lollipops–I couldn’t let them down.

So I scrambled, somehow convincing the kids that the piece of glittery scrapbook paper I found in my desk was the same thing as glitter and that of course the bunny would transform it into lollipops. So we threw the piece of pink glitter paper on the lawn with a large wilted carrot I found hidden in the back of my produce drawer, and after the kids went to bed, I snuck back out to remove the carrot and the makeshift glitter and replaced them with three corkscrew lollipops I shoved into the ground. “This is going to be so awesome,” I told myself. “They’re going to remember this forever.” What I didn’t realize was that the lawn would get very wet in the night, and that animals would be interested in the lollipops, and that ants like sugar.

No sooner had the sun cast its first ray, and my kids were peering out the window, breathlessly excited, trying to make out if there were lollipops where the glitter paper had been left.

“Go see!” I said, preparing for a proud motherhood moment of “Nailed it.” This is it, man. Living the dream. I followed them out to the magic spot…

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…and there, poking out of the grass, were three sorry lollipops, their plastic wrappers chewed through, bits of wet grass stuck to the melted goop that was seeping out the holes in the wrapper–brownish from all the colors bleeding together, ants crawling up the sticks. Nella’s stick had gotten so wet, it sort of bent in half, unable to keep the weight of the lollipop up anymore.

“Ew! It’s all goopy!” Lainey yelled.

And then Dash started crying. “Bugs! Bugs! Mine has bugs!”

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Trying to save the moment, Brett piped up with some bullshit about “Oh, the lollipops aren’t to eat; they’re just to show you magic!” because the Easter Bunny is a dick. And then we watched three disappointed kids toss their magic lollipops into the garbage, and I heard Dash say “Disgusting.”

So, Happy Easter. It was quite possibly our finest moment of parenthood yet.

Redemption comes in egg hunts and Easter baskets, little bunny tracks throughout the house and a big family breakfast.

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There was a great discussion on Instagram yesterday after a friend asked me if Lainey still believes–moms talking about how they handle that bridge age and so many good ideas for embracing both the wonder of childhood and their maturing imagination. I think every kid is different as is every parent, and each family finds their own approach to make believe and making holidays special. But I sense that she loves all this magic, even if it’s with a wink and an unspoken understanding of what it means. I look forward to inviting her to help create the magic for her siblings because she’ll love that, but right now, we’re still playing along…like we probably always will, even when all three are winking with the knowledge of the secret.

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The day before Easter, we hit our local U-pick farm to gather flowers for our brunch table.

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I’ll be so sad when this field is picked over for the season. The sunflowers are already gone, but there were still plenty of snap dragons.

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I hope you all had a great Easter, failed traditions or not.

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We’re still enjoying a day off today. I was in Target this weekend when Heidi called to inform me of some very important news. “What I’m about to tell you is going to blow your mind,” she said. “Are you ready?”

“Tell me,” I said, bracing myself.

“The school starts the alphabet countdown next week for the end of the year. We only have an alphabet to get through before summer. That means we can officially give up next week.”

Shoddy lunches and half-ass effort from here on out, folks. Summer’s coming.

Enjoying: Tradition Intervention

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In the course of one week, poor Lainey broke her arm (fell off a scooter), and I came down with a cold that has rendered my voice this weird cross between David Sedaris and Joyce Meyer. Needless to say, we are looking forward to the long weekend  and Easter festivities. We have plans to do our normal egg hunt and Easter bunny baskets, but we are adding a few new fun traditions this year borrowed from some readers who shared some of their own traditions on Instagram, and now I’m stealing them because I’m a tradition hoarder. Someday, you will find me buried in a house with my traditions and 20 cats, and my children will worry about me and sign me up for “Tradition Intervention” which I’m predicting will be a highly popular reality show in 2030.

“She hasn’t showered in weeks,” they’ll say. “She just keeps hanging stockings and setting leprechaun traps, and the house reeks of rotten Easter eggs,” which are buried under family photo boxes soaked with cat pee, of course.

And then I’ll chase them, my eyes all glazed over, yelling, “LET’S GO FOR A MOONWALK!” And they will run, scared, tripping over shoe box Valentine houses from their kindergarten days and broken twinkle light strands from the reindeer runway I leave up all year.

“Please, somebody help her!”

Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

Okay, this is what we’re adding this year: 1) We’re sprinkling glitter for the Easter bunny the night before Easter with hopes that he will turn it into swirly lollipops, 2) We’re playing Eppers with our dyed eggs, and 3) We’re going to crack cascarones over each other’s heads and make up blessings. Might I suggest approaching new traditions simply for fun and not a live-or-die standard for holidays. Don’t stress yourself out. Example: our Halloween fail of 2014 where traditions didn’t work out, and it still was perfectly memorable and special.

We got a head start this past weekend with our egg dying. This is the first year I didn’t line everything with butcher paper but rather just padded the dye jars with paper towel, and everyone was old enough to go about the process pretty carefully. I’m happy to report nothing got stained except my pants which were white–which was stupid.

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We used a natural egg dye this year which took a lot longer to get a good saturated color, but it was all fruit and plant extracts and included a cute grass-growing kit.

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We got our prize in the end–a rainbow.

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Speaking of rainbows, earlier last week, we made a rainbow of homemade dough. We altered a recipe from here that ended up working just fine. For enough to make all these colors: 3 cups of very warm water, 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1.5 c. salt, 3 tbsp. cream of tarter, lavender oil (or whatever you want your dough to smell like–we use peppermint oil in the winter), pastel food coloring,  3 c. flour. We just mixed everything together, adding flour last, and then stored it in big Ziplock bags. It’s super soft and smooshy–perfect for little ones.

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And since we were on a pastel kick, we went ahead and made some Easter sugar cookies that were so delicious, I had to hide them from myself.

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Also lately enjoying:

My sister visited…
…and it was wonderful.  A few friends came over for cocktails the night before she left, and Brett took this picture which is now a favorite.

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The gulf is warming up.
We’re nowhere near the bath water warmth of August, but the gulf is prepping for summer, still refreshing enough to cool you down and yet warm enough to slip underwater comfortably. Having out-of-towners always pushes us to be there, watching sunsets, collecting shells, reminding Dash to pull his bathing suit up.

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I think I have this exact same picture of him somewhere, crawling toward the water when he was about 8 months old. Little sea turtle making his way.

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Casts can’t stop us.
This was her ER precast, but we got her regular cast this week and were thrilled to find out they can make them waterproof for swimming. While injuries can be scary and are always inconvenient, this first little broken bone (and hopefully the last) for my kids made a sweet memory with Lainey late Friday night, cozied up in a very comfortable and quiet ER room where we watched a movie, held hands and huddled under warm blankets.

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Old toy reunions.
One of the best parenting tips–keep some toys put away and rotate them out with toys that are frequently played with to keep your kids from getting bored with the same old stuff. We pulled out some forgotten toys last weekend which made for a nice Sunday morning with kids quietly entertained.

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Ballet Fridays.
Always a favorite. She’s come such a long way, now slipping right into class, even when there aren’t kids she knows, following directions and intently dancing as the teacher instructs. I’m so proud of the huge social leaps she’s made this year.

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Happy Humpday, Friends!

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Spring Wardrobe: All the COLORS! (and a $250 thredUP Giveaway)

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This post is sponsored by thredUP. As always, writing and opinions are my own.

Maybe it’s the first sight of tulip bouquets at Whole Foods. Or perhaps, the Cadbury eggs that taunt me from their new display at the grocery store check-out. Maybe it’s the Anthropologie pop-up ad for the floral dress that keeps showing up on my e-mail screen. Whatever the case, spring sweeps its way into my internal inspiration board and controls me for a while this time of year, prompting closet clean-outs, gardening dreams, picnic plans and the hunt for the perfect pale pink nail polish shade (found it: Essie’s Poppy Art Pink). While we pick up little things here and there throughout the year for our closets, spring is definitely when we overhaul all of our wardrobes (especially the kids), cleaning out things that don’t fit and clothes we don’t love, and rebuilding where necessary so that we’re ready for the new season with comfy staples and fun new outfit inspiration.

Did you know in the average American closet, only 20% of the items actually get worn on a regular basis?! That means we’re wasting precious time rifling through cluttered closets full of things we don’t love. Spring is the perfect time to change that. I’ve talked about thredUP a few times before here on the blog, and with another seasonal makeover on our closets, we’re returning to our favorite online resale shop as we weed out the old and unused and add new pieces we love–here’s the best part–at a fraction of retail price. thredUP is the largest online store that buys and sells high-quality secondhand fashion for women and kids, and every item is triple inspected by hand to make ensure all clothes are  like new–and many are  brand new, with tags still attached.

First up: the clean out. You can order a clean out kit from thredUP, and they’ll send you a giant bag that you fill with defect-free, on-trend clothes. You send it back to them and choose to either be compensated through store credit or PayPal, or you can have thredUP donate to a charity. Either way, you’ve cleared out space for things you love.

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Step 2–the fun part: revamp your closet.

Looking forward to both Florida outdoor adventures and summering lakeside in Michigan, we tend to go for bright primary colors this time of year when we’re shopping. Give me yellows, reds, nautical stripes and bold blues and greens that will pop against strawberry fields and beach sunsets. With a large family though, we’re definitely open to any way we can brighten our closets without breaking the bank. So, I went on thredUP for a spring closet challenge, and I’m SO happy with the results. Wait until you see!

Before I started shopping, I knew what I wanted:

For me:
*a couple of casual, comfy outfits for everyday, preferably cotton, in my favorite versatile color palette: black/white stripe, navy, red, white, yellow
*dresses
*1-2 bold statement pieces that have a wow factor
*favorite brands, a plus: (common thredUP brands I find: JCrew, Anthropologie, Nanette Lapore, Free People, Kate Spade, etc.)

For the kids:
*cotton everyday dresses for the girls
*primary color scheme
*favorite brands, a plus: (ones I usually find on thredUP: Mini Boden, Hanna Andersson, Gap, etc.)

One of my favorite features about shopping with thredUP is their filters. I can narrow my searches down to specific sizes, brands, colors and even details like “short sleeve” or “long sleeve” when hunting for the perfect shirt.

I found everything I wanted and more, and when the thredUp box hit our doorstep, I was stoked.

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A Rainbow in a box!

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Look at all those brand names…and all like new.

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So here’s what we got with all the thredUP prices, compared with what each piece retails for.

For me:

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For the kids:

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I’ve actually been looking for a pair of yellow short overalls for Nella and couldn’t believe when I found these that were not only her size, but one of our favorite brands! And that Mim Pi jumpsuit? It’s now one of my favorite things of hers. And we saved almost $50 by buying it through thredUP.

And look! The kids in their new outfits and my bold colors from thredUP all coordinate perfectly.

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Lainey’s Gap knit stripe dress is so comfy and perfect for summer, and it’s yellow!

I’ll probably get the most wear out of the JCrew knit stripe dress, a classic easy piece for spring and summer that I can dress up or keep casual with sneakers or sandals. And isn’t that $17 bag so much fun? Such a happy, sunny print.

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My favorites pieces for me though are the two dressier items–the bold palm print dress (so Florida!)…

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…and this amazing black shirt with the big structured neckline.

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If only I could learn to simply smile and say “thank you” when someone compliments the shirt rather than blurt out how inexpensive it was.

thredUP is offering readers a special discount: the first 100 people to use code ETST40 will get an extra 40% off their first order. (Applies to new US customers only. Discount up to $50) They’re also giving away a $250 shopping credit to one lucky reader–just click here to browse thredUP, and leave a comment with a link to your favorite item from thredUP to win.

Here’s a fact to blow your mind: If 1 out of 100 american households shopped secondhand, they would collectively save 1.6 BILLION every year. That’s enough for each of those households to pay for 2 years of college.

Now to find some colorful spring adventures to match our new looks.

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*and thanks to Heidi for taking so many of these great pics!