Easter and Other Updates

Happy Easter Monday! I’m not really sure what that is, except that it’s on the calendars. Oh, it’s also Earth Day, so more appropriately – happy Earth Day! It’s been a really busy week with a jam packed holiday weekend. Lots of updates to life around here!

I forgot to mention in my post two Sundays ago that we were supposed to be at Great America that day for Greg’s employee appreciation day. But for the second year in a row the weather was horrible. They didn’t cancel it all together this year, but apparently only four rides were open and they shut down early. Such a bummer! We might be given free tickets to go at some point during the summer, but it’s always fun to go on the employee day when it’s a lot less crowded and they feed us an awesome lunch.

Shepard started soccer on Monday night. Unfortunately, he was the only one there! Apparently only he and his friend signed up for the 4:00 slot and his friend was sick. So the coach asked if we’d stick around for the 5:00 group which was a little bigger and then he spent an hour giving both boys a private lesson on all things soccer. They loved it. Caden was invited to play with them at the 5:00 time too. They decided halfway through the week to eliminate the earlier session entirely, which is kind of a bummer. They also extended it until 6:30, which is making our dinnertime a whole lot more complicated. But it’s only for a month, so we’ll deal.

Jack had another vet appointment on Tuesday to get his blood and urine rechecked after a few weeks on his prescription food. Apparently, this is common with kidney failure – he has very high blood pressure. So while his protein and kidney levels were stable enough that he doesn’t need medication yet, he DOES need to start taking high blood pressure meds. I was worried about shoving a pill down his throat every day for the rest of his life, but so far I’ve been smashing it into a soft cat treat and he gobbles it right up. Whew! The pharmacists at Walgreen’s thought it was hilarious that the prescription I brought in was for a cat.

Shepard had his open house at school on Wednesday night. It was cute to see him so excited to show off everything. He’s really come into his own this year. He’s grown up so much and even looks like a completely different kid!

The biggest news on Wednesday – for me, anyway – is that I signed up to go to a Hope*Writers conference in North Carolina this November! I’ve been aware of the Hope*Writers community for awhile and have had it at the back of my mind as a thing to join when I started feeling really serious about writing. Well, I’m starting to feel that way! The actual community is closed for new memberships at the moment, but the writing conference sounds AMAZING. It definitely felt a bit self indulgent to plan another cross country solo trip when I’m already going to Book Bonanza in Texas in August. But the more I thought about it the more it felt like the right decision. This is a valuable investment into my future and a career I have felt called toward my entire life. I still have a lot of details to work out, but I’ve bought my ticket and I’m really excited about it. I also signed up for a 90 day Directions course through Hope*Writers that is hopefully going to focus my writing and get me on the path I want to walk. I haven’t had a ton of time to delve into the coursework yet, but I paid to be in it, so I’m going to give it my best effort in the next few months.

Back to my reality career, I finished up these 12 little Mother’s Day dolls on Thursday. Most of them sold pretty quickly.

Friday was a pretty crappy day. First of all, there was a lot of pressure to make the day somehow special because it was the one and only day we got off for Spring Break after all the snow days this winter. Fortunately, Greg went to work at his parents’ house which eased up that extra layer of also trying to stay out of his way all day. Because it was so nice out, we went to the dog park for awhile and then got some Burger King drive thru food for an early lunch. Then I just gave in and let the boys play video games for awhile because I desperately needed to get stuff done. I’ll admit I had a pretty poor attitude the whole day. I was a little angry that I felt forced into having an egg dyeing party that I fully intended on not doing this year. I was resentful of how much work goes into parties and holidays and vacations and how little credit I get for doing all that work. Every once in awhile I just want to rant and scream about how it is not easy to make all of these things come together smoothly, even if it somehow appears that way. I’ve also just been terribly stressed out about my doll making plans for the next month. I want to have specials for my six year anniversary, I need to make more Mother’s Day and teacher appreciation dolls – for selling and for my kids’ teachers. I also offered to make raffle baskets for the school auction, which I LOVE doing, but the timing for it is just awful. Plus we have a six day vacation coming up very quickly, I need to have Mother’s Day gifts and Greg’s birthday gifts all settled before that. Greg is having a friend stay at our house next weekend, a friend I’ve never met and our first ever houseguest, and the logistics plus my messed up anxiety around having strangers in my space, has been difficult to wrap my head around. And there’s just a ton of end of the year things going on with school. Plus, you know, kids and pets and cooking and cleaning and laundry, and oh yeah, this intense writing course I just signed up for at the worst possible time of the year. It’s a lot.

But, I made it. A lot of the stress is entirely my own fault because I don’t like to do anything halfway or take the easy route when it comes to having people over. In general, I really do love having parties and the more the merrier. It’s the reason why I keep trying to gather people for taco nights and craft nights and then get so incredibly sad when nobody comes. But the exact timing of this late Easter and everything happening in the coming weeks was NOT GREAT. But it was worth it in the end.

Saturday was the big day! I was really excited about all the egg hunts this year because last year I couldn’t walk yet, so I didn’t do any of them. I seem to remember the year before that everyone was very uncooperative about going, so we skipped out. But this year, we were all gung ho! The boys and I started with the early Pick n Save hunt where there are the least amount of kids and the most and best candy.

I took Annie to the dog park after and Shepard showered and styled his hair…

Next we went to the Culver’s hunt and brought Willow along. She was with us for most of the day, which I really think helped Caden stay in a positive mood. He was SO much more into all of the festivities than he ever is. It was such a wonderful change! Willow and Shepard made out with a good amount of free ice cream tokens and Caden got as many large tootsie rolls as he could grab.

There was about a three hour gap between the second and third hunts, and I totally just chilled out and read and took a nap. I felt really guilty because the weather was gorgeous and basically the entire neighborhood was outside doing various yardwork and such. But I figured I put in my time on Friday and I just didn’t want to do any more work.

The big park egg hunt was insane, as usual! This was the first year the boys were in the same age group (for all of them), which was really nice! Caden still has one more year for the park hunt before he can do the Friday night flashlight egg hunt, which sounds awesome.

I got my homemade salsas and a few other snacks out for the party. Greg’s parents brought some Aldi pizzas for the main course. It was about the longest egg dyeing party ever because everyone came in batches over a number of hours, but it was fun! Caden and Willow were having the greatest time with their egg decorating. And then we had our usual egg pecking contest at the end. Willow was declared the overall winner.

Greg’s family stayed for a few more hours to play board games and I made a peanut butter pie. Super easy, but very indulgent.

We finished the night loading up baskets and hiding eggs. I bought some bigger baskets at Walmart this year so everything actually fit for once! Mine even looked a little bare! Though I realized later I had just gotten some new coffee on Saturday that I should have thrown in to fill it up. I love gathering stuff for baskets and stockings and any other holiday that might include a variety of unique goodies!

Easter morning was surprisingly relaxed! Caden and I were up first and Shepard slept till 7:30! Even Greg was up before that because he thought we were all waiting on him. (Like we usually are!) I had time to make two kinds of scones for breakfast before the boys were ready to hunt for their baskets. The pets found theirs first and were very happy! It was like the best day of Rory’s life getting a nice catnip stick to wrestle with.

We went over to Greg’s parents’ house mid-morning for an outdoor egg hunt. I can’t believe how great the weather was, especially considering it was snowing and below freezing just a week before! I always think it’s so fun to do the hunts outside.

Forced everyone into one family picture. The boys wouldn’t wear the nice polo shirts I bought them for the occasion (shocker), but they did agree to wear the Peeps shirts, which I wanted them to wear on Saturday and they refused.

We had a huge brunch after the egg hunt. Yum!

More board games.

It was a lovely first (second?) Easter celebration!

Next we went to my parents’ and the boys did a scavenger hunt to find their baskets.

MORE board games. πŸ™‚ Caden’s really into them. I was just relaxing and watching Shepard shoot nerf guns outside.

We had a delicious Easter dinner! My dad heated up the ham on the grill with a glaze. Grills are just the best. I hope to have one again someday!

And we finished up the night with pie. Overall, it was a really nice day. It was actually a great weekend! I think it’s maybe the first holiday of all time that Caden was happy and engaged with no blow ups. Shepard was great too. Though he did eat WAY too much candy yesterday and came home from school with a migraine halfway through the day. After a long nap he’s already feeling a lot better, though.

Looking at the week ahead – still pretty busy. I want to plan out all the dolls I hope to make in the next month and get them traced and cut and ready to sew. That was actually my plan for today, but then I got way too distracted by a ton of other stuff. I was hoping to run a few errands tomorrow, but Shepard is probably going to have to stay home, so I’ll work tomorrow. I will. Wednesday is my last yoga class, which I fully intend on going to this time after three weeks off. And Friday is when our houseguest arrives, Greg and Caden and him are going to see End Game while Shepard and I go to soccer and out to dinner. And the four of us are seeing End Game together on Saturday. Meanwhile our Colorado trip is coming up really fast, so I need to finish making plans for that. So much going on!

Spring Break and Easter Reflections 2018


We survived spring break! It actually ended up being a lot busier than I expected. The nine days still seemed to last FOREVER, but we made it. Had a lot of rough patches, like always, but many good moments as well.

On Monday, my mom took the boys for most of the day and they did some egg dyeing and other fun Eastery activities. Greg worked at home so he could take me to my first physical therapy appointment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it ended up being very low key. All she did was measure my range of motion between my bad ankle and good and taught me the exercises I should be doing three times a day. We also practiced walking up and down stairs with my crutches. I couldn’t figure out how to get up them and have just been crawling inside those rare days I left the house. I scoot up and down on my butt inside the house, which she said is the safest way. But kind of embarrassing – and dirty – to be doing that on any outdoor/entryway steps I come across! The therapist was going to cancel the rest of my appointments until after I see the surgeon and can hopefully move on to partial weight bearing. But she changed her mind to just once a week appointments to start working on my incision scar tissue. I’ll have my first appointment for that on Wednesday.

To celebrate my first PT, we picked up chicken sandwiches and scoops of ice cream from Burger King and Culver’s before going home. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful except for Deja taking Annie to the dog park again.


Tuesday was the one day that Greg went into work, so I was home alone with the boys. All I have to say is that I’m so glad I didn’t break my ankle during the summer and I better be able to walk by the time they’re out of school!! SO exhausting! The constant negotiating and arguing about screen time every minute of every day! The fun part about the day is that I was bound and determined to find some success in the kitchen. It took me practically all day, but I made bacon, scotcheroos, pizza dough, and later pizza. It felt SO good to actually be productive and make yummy food. I’ve complained a ton in the last few years about constantly needing to feed my family. But now I miss it so much and I hope I never take it for granted again.


Shepard and I also made some clay erasers from a kit he got for his birthday. That night they went to Greg’s parents’ house for the evening and Greg and I sort of had an at home date night. Though he ended up taking Annie to the dog park and I spent the evening going through and organizing all the Easter stuff. I was dead tired, but also so happy by the end of the day. It felt like the most normal pre-ankle break day I’ve had so far.


Wednesday was our family day, and the day with the warmest weather. I really wanted to get to a store, so we landed on Costco. I needed to renew my membership and since Greg was actually with me for the first time ever, I added him to it so now he can stop there on his own. I used my knee scooter to zip around the store and it went pretty well! Very tiring and my knee was quite sore, but it felt awesome to actually have some say in the food we picked out. I LOVE grocery shopping, particularly impulse buying (lol). I’ve missed it!

Unfortunately, we all got into a big fight as we were leaving Costco. It pretty much wrecked the rest of the day. We had a picnic packed for lunch, but nobody was offering up any suggestions or agreements to specific parks, so we went back to the big one in Columbus. But it was still pretty chilly and the picnic tables just looked so far away. I decided to just stay in the car. Which was pretty depressing. Watching all the kids there running around and having a good time. I wish it could be me. I won’t ever take that for granted again either. The rest of the day was pretty awful emotionally. I just feel so powerless. And also the reason that our family is falling apart half the time these days. Sigh. Moving on…


On Thursday, Greg took the boys and met my brother and Hudson at the Milwaukee Zoo. It was cold again, but I think they had a good time! I enjoyed just being home in the peace and and quiet!!


On Thursday night, Caden had his first sleepover over at his friend Leverett’s house. Shepard was insanely jealous. The three of them are inseparable when they’re playing outside, but Shepard is never included in the invitations that involve going into Leverett’s house. I mean, I do understand it from the parent’s perspective. But Shepard definitely doesn’t understand it! So the three of us watched the movieΒ Leap! and then Shepard had a sleepover downstairs with me, Annie, and Jack. It was also the last night I slept downstairs. I’m back in my room now!


We made it through the night with no issues. πŸ™‚ Shepard just spent the entire morning begging to run over and knock on Leverett’s door to see if they wanted to play with him. Had to keep up the distractions.


We picked our first two lemons. It took them almost eleven full months to grow. Worth it?? Probably not. I do not have a green thumb and keeping houseplants alive is pretty difficult. Part of me just wants to give our lemon tree away because I don’t like the minimal effort it requires of me. But now we have some new buds, and I did actually keep it alive almost an entire year, so I guess it’s staying.


Greg took Annie to her vet appointment on Friday morning. We’ve had her for a year now! I really wanted to go, but it was too hard to get ready early enough. Plus I thought it would just be too chaotic with her so excited and me on crutches. But it sounds like she did well. She is perfectly healthy! And she’s up to 46.8 lbs. 11 pounds more than when we got her! The vet said she should ideally be around 44, but she’s otherwise doing great. They were really excited to get her DNA test results and change her paperwork to “Golden Retriever Mix.”


After lunch, Greg took the boys to his parents for another sleepover and then spent an hour at the DMV waiting in line to get my temporary handicap sticker for the car. I’m not sure how often we’ll need to use it, but it’s good to have. We used it right away on our evening date! We went to a late afternoon showing ofΒ Black Panther and had diner in the theater. Then we went to Orange Leaf for dessert. And finished with a stop at Pick n Save so I could pick out some produce for a few recipes. My knee/leg were pretty much dead after that. But we still got home fairly early and had time to watchΒ Jumanji. It was a nice night! Exhausting, but worth it to get out of the house for something other than hospital visits!


Saturday morning came with the news that Caden woke up sick. I don’t think Caden has thrown up in like two years. And of course it happens the day before Easter! Greg went to get them and then took Shepard to the Culver’s egg hunt. Caden was resting. And I spent a super long time very carefully chopping up ingredients to make this beautiful batch of mango guacamole. I’ve been kind of over guacamole for awhile now, but this was magical. Best guac I’ve ever had.


Saturday was also the day of the big community egg hunt and our annual egg dyeing party. The grandmas brought all the supplies and food and we did the dyeing before the party. We were missing a lot of aunt/uncle participants this year. I didn’t really have a space to get to the table, so I didn’t dye many. It went okay, but not as fun as other years. It’s hard being in this dumb boot and not being able to really do anything the way I want to. The scooter gives me more mobility, but it doesn’t exactly make that mobility easy! I was just a little bummed out the whole time. Plus having Caden sick didn’t help things. He was quarantined to his room at first, but he kept demanding Greg go up and attend to him. He finally came down and sat at a chair from a distance. I think it was probably, maybe, just something he ate. He felt a lot better by evening and nobody else got sick.


At least I got to see Hudson! He’s at such a fun age right now! So alert and interested in everything. But he can’t crawl yet, so it’s easy to contain him. πŸ™‚ And cajole him into taking selfies with me.


Hudson still loves Annie! And the feeling is mutual.


He was in a lazy lounging mood and enjoyed just chilling out on me while I was resting.


And chilling on Greg.


I made one egg while the Noe side of the family went with Shepard to the big outdoor egg hunt. It was really cold, so the Braatz members stayed here. We left a bunch of eggs for Caden to dye later, but he wasn’t interested. I finished them later in the evening. After the egg hunt we had pizza and desserts to finish up the party.


After we were sure the boys were sleeping, the Easter Bunny (kitty) came. Rory always ignores people all day, but is fascinated by everything we do once the boys go to bed!


I’m so happy I was able to fill everyone’s baskets, despite being stuck at home all month. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mom and two of my friends picking things up for all of us. I was quite pleased with how they turned out!


And finally Sunday – Easter! Everyone was up around six, but I made the boys wait to look for anything until I took a shower. It’s so annoying how much of a hassle taking a shower is when you can’t stand up or walk! I wanted to get it out of the way as early as possible. And then the hunt was on!







After everything was found, we had some Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants for breakfast. Yummy.


This was my favorite Easter basket filler. I’m not sure where I’ll put them, but they were too adorable to pass up! I think I saw them on a facebook group sale the day I broke my ankle and ordered them to cheer myself up. The Easter Bunny also brought me a ton of sheet masks, vitamin E oil for my incisions, and some tasty treats.


Shepard’s favorite basket fillers were a package of new underwear and these Minecraft pajamas. He had to wear the shirt after we took a family picture the rest of the day. He also wore it to school today. He desperately wanted to wear the pants too and insisted they did not look like pajamas. He finally listened toΒ  me (shockingly!) and switched to regular pants. Caden wore his new Minecraft pajama shirt to school too.


We went to my parents’ house for brunch mid morning. And we actually got a fairly decent family picture!


More Hudson! We stationed ourselves at the table and spent most of the time hanging out together. He’s just the absolute cutest!


The Easter Bunny also made the boys these heatable rice bags for their baskets. Another favorite! They heated them up at least thirty times yesterday. Shepard was also begging me to let him bring his to school today. Hudson wasn’t quite sure what to think about them.


We had a delicious brunch and then the grandboys had a scavenger hunt to find their eggs and baskets.


They got all kinds of fun things, including a huge disc swing to hang up at Grandma’s house.


Hudson loving his new book.


And really loving his new swing! After just one little swing in it, he was quivering with excitement every time he looked at it. So cute!


We ran out of energy and motivation to do the egg pecking contest on Saturday, so we were more ready for it on Sunday.


Greg had my phone for awhile and took about a hundred pictures of Hudson eating his oatmeal.


Then Shepard and Grandpa had to play with filters for awhile.


And me deciding maybe I should take a picture with my own child, instead of just Hudson, Hudson, Hudson. πŸ™‚ Caden was feeling a lot better on Sunday, but behavioral wise went waaaaaay downhill as the day went on. It was expected, especially after two sleepovers in a row, and being sick to boot. I wish Easter was at the start of spring break instead of the end, so the boys were at their best. We’re pretty used to Caden’s behavior putting quite a damper on every family get together we ever have. But it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. πŸ™


Early afternoon we went over to Greg’s parents’ house for the rest of the day. Aunt Mel hid all the eggs for the boys to find this year. We usually do this hunt outside, but it was SO cold this year! It doesn’t seem like spring is ever going to show up.


I thought it was funny that Greg got a Qdoba gift card and I got a Chipotle gift card. We have this argument all the time about which is better. I think Qdoba is just his default because it’s near his work so he can actually go there! Plus guacamole is free and they give free chips with a burrito bowl. Which I admit is an advantage. But Chipotle is in my heart forever. LOVE.


Shepard had pecking contests with Grandma and Grandpa while Greg dealt with meltdown city child in the other room for half the day. Fun times. Shepard was having a blast at least!


I liked this egg the best. I think Grandpa made it. Though Shepard just kind of claimed all the eggs for himself by the end!


We had another delicious meal and then just hung out for awhile. Despite the inevitable parenting struggles, it was a fairly good day. I’d say as a whole, spring break went better than I thought it would. But I am SO glad it’s over! πŸ™‚ And SOOO happy to be back home alone today!

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

Easter 2017

IMG_1520 extra stuff

Despite our rough Saturday, Easter turned out to be a very nice day. I was pretty tired because the Easter Bunny’s helper fell asleep in Caden’s bed and forgot it was Easter eve, so I had a late night getting everything ready for morning. Then slept terribly and was up around 4. Always happens the night before an important day! I think both boys were up sometime between 5:30 and 6. They spent some time looking through the things left on the table that the Easter Bunny couldn’t fit in their baskets!

IMG_1522 high eggs

Since Greg got so much sleep, I didn’t feel bad about them waking him up pretty early. So the egg hunt was underway! It was tough this year finding places to hide eggs that they’d still find, yet weren’t low enough for Annie to get into.

IMG_1526 annies' baskets

Found Annie’s “basket” first. A pooper scooper, pail for poop, and a few new toys. I always thought it was funny how many toys my mom buys for her dogs. Now I totally get it. I want to buy Annie new toys every time I go to the store. And treats.

IMG_1536 big bone

Jumbo dog treat. She always wants to see what everyone is doing, so she just carried it from room to room so she could keep watching us.

IMG_1545 basket hunting

Caden found his basket next!

IMG_1546 caden's basket

Always a personal challenge to see just how many things I can cram into those little baskets!! I tried to keep the fillers pretty cheap this year. A lot of one time use types of things that they’ll have fun with for a day and then we can throw away without any guilt.

IMG_1550 cat basket

Cat basket next. The cats haven’t played with any toys since we got Annie. πŸ™ But I’m hoping that will change.

IMG_1553 the jumbo egg

Shepard found the mega egg.

IMG_1558 greg's basket

Daddy’s basket next.

IMG_1560 amy's basket

Then mine. Finally found a vintage stuffed lamb! She’s in rough shape, but I’m looking forward to fixing her up nice and pretty.

IMG_1562 greg's basket

Greg’s basket again. He’s always the tough one.

IMG_1563 jack snacks

Keeping an eye on everything. Rory never came out of hiding.

IMG_1565 shepard's basket

Shepard finally found his basket after many, many hints!

IMG_1567 muscles

Need muscles for the goodies.

IMG_1568 shepards basket

Lots of purple and lots of trolls! He’s obsessed with both.

IMG_1574 thumbs up

Dressed and ready for photo time. You can see Caden’s pink eye in this one. It started on Saturday afternoon and by Sunday night both eyes were almost swollen shut and solid red. I guess it was technically good timing since he didn’t have to miss any school for it, but still kind of a bummer since it stopped us from doing much the last few days of break.

IMG_1580 yes sir

They are completely incapable of just standing together nicely for a picture!

IMG_1596 hugs

IMG_1598 hugs cute

IMG_1605 boys amy annie

Trying to get Annie to sit with us, staying in one position, and facing Greg rather than me, was nearly impossible! And in the front yard to boot, where she’s highly distracted always trying to see if her friend Maya is out or not.

IMG_1606 amy boys annie

Best we can do. πŸ™‚

IMG_1613 egg hunt

At Grandma Noe’s house for the second part of the day. The boys are off on their egg hunt.

IMG_1616 annie watching

Annie got to come with us for this part of the day, which was really nice. Though it was probably a lot more chaos than everybody bargained for. She REALLY does not like being tied up. Especially if somebody isn’t actively engaging with her every minute she’s out. But she did pretty well. Caden spent a lot of time playing with her, when he might have normally been acting out. I like that she’s kind of turning into a bit of a therapy dog for him.

IMG_1640 shepard eggs

Counting his 40 eggs!

IMG_1645 easter brunch

Cindy’s mega brunch spread! There’s a ham and sausages under the foil. It was all delicious! Greg was so proud of his scrambled egg contribution.

IMG_1649 family pic attempt

After a few hours there I ran Annie back home to spend the afternoon in her kennel. I was really hoping she’d just sleep after so much excitement. I guess without some sort of nanny cam I don’t know what she did. But she was pretty dang tired the next day, so who knows!

Anyway, at my parent’s house for the rest of Easter. I wanted to try and get a nice family picture, but you know how that goes. Didn’t help that the wind was also very intense all day. My hair did not hold up through it!

IMG_1650 hugs

IMG_1653 nicest family easter photo lol

Pretty good!

IMG_1654 tackling

And that’s the end of that.

IMG_1660 scavenger hunt

Back inside for the scavenger hunt. It was tough this year because my parents have knocked a wall out and rearranged a bunch of stuff since the last time we were there, so the boys needed extra hints.

IMG_1673 caden's basket

Found their way to the baskets.

IMG_1675 sling shot

Trying to play with their new sling shot/catch thingys. It was so windy!

IMG_1681 shepard and pork chops

Always the goof!

IMG_1687 easter dinner

Easter dinner! Delicious, as always. I hope to one day figure out how to coordinate serving a nice sit down dinner for a group of people the way my mom does! I haven’t been able to move past crock pot meals yet.

IMG_1690 desserts

And my desserts. Croissant bread pudding with butterscotch sauce and a strawberry cream pie with very wimpy cream filling. Both were good, but not really up to my baking standard. I’m losing my edge these days.

And that’s it! It was a very nice, low key, family filled day. Everyone was happy and had a great day.

2017 Annual Egg Dyeing Party

20170409_153008 caden

We kicked off Easter week yesterday with the big egg hunt at the park, followed by our annual egg dyeing party. The Rec Department decided to throw the celebration a week before Easter this year, which was kind of nice. I like spreading things out a bit so Easter weekend doesn’t feel quite so packed and overwhelming.

For the first time in awhile, the oldest group of kids actually waited for the bullhorn before getting their eggs! Last year one of the teenagers holding the “Stop” sign flipped it to “Go” without realizing and the kids stampeded. The year before somebody just started running and they all followed. Competition is fierce in the oldest group, but Caden grabbed a lot. He had to go barefoot so his flip flops didn’t slow him down!

20170409_153051 shepard

When we got there some guy told us the middle group was ages 3-6, so Shepard just went in that group. We saw after the fact that it was actually 3-5. Oops. Oh well, I guess Shepard was still pretty hesitant about so many kids, so it was good to be in the younger group. He got quite a haul!

20170409_153256 eggs

Going through the eggs. Shepard got one tiny popping toy and the rest of the eggs were tootsie rolls and smarties.

IMG_1443 dyeing

Back at the house dyeing eggs. The boys always have so much fun!

IMG_1445 dips

I made hot beef and pepper sandwiches, fluff fruit salad, and two kinds of chips and dips. Cindy brought coleslaw and veggies. My mom brought buns and cookies. Easy, but delicious party food!

IMG_1447 brownies

Brownies with my favorite chocolate malt frosting. It was supposed to look like dirt with orange chocolate covered strawberries as carrots. But I forgot to buy orange chocolate. And strawberries. So…eggs in dirt!

IMG_1449 cupcakes

Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla marshmallow frosting.

IMG_1450 cookies

And my mom’s cookies.

IMG_1452 annie

Annie didn’t know what to think about so many people in her house! I put her in the crate for the first time when we were at the egg hunt. We were gone about 45 minutes. When I got back she had managed to slide the bottom tray thingy out of the kennel, bunched up the bed in the back of the cage, and pull a blanket from the couch halfway into the kennel, through the one inch little openings. How?! I’m going to have to leave her in there quite a bit tomorrow while I run errands, so I can’t wait to see what trouble she manages next. πŸ˜›

IMG_1455 the boy room

The guy room. They were watching golf and playing games.

IMG_1462 egg pecking

Time for the pecking contest, a Noe tradition!

IMG_1470 brittany and caden

IMG_1496 timmy wins

IMG_1497 winner eggs

Timmy’s egg won against 12 other eggs. That has to be some sort of major record!

IMG_1501 caden wins

And then Caden beat him.

IMG_1502 caden wins

Always a sore loser, even more of a gloating winner!

IMG_1509 egg pecking

Teaching Grandpa how it works.

IMG_1518 egg pile

And some of the egg damage. Cindy and Brittany were gathering up eggs as they broke to use later, so it didn’t look like quite the egg graveyard that it usually does after these parties!

It was a good day! I love tradition!

Easter Weekend


Happy Belated Easter! It’s been over two months since I last wrote – yikes! Things have definitely been busy lately and the blog has fallen to the wayside. I’d like to occasionally do some updates on here, though it’s not as high of a priority anymore. There are just too many other things to worry about first. At any rate, here is a recap of our Easter weekend!


On Saturday we began our day at the Culver’s Egg Hunt. We didn’t know what to expect, and it was pretty crazy! Just WAY too many kids in way too small of an area. The entire hunt lasted about two minutes.

They only had a few plastic eggs, but lots of little chocolate eggs so I think everyone went home happy.


We didn’t think to bring a bag or basket, so Shepard filled my pocket.


Back at home counting their eggs.


In the afternoon we went to the Fireman’s Park Egg Hunt. The available grandparents and uncle joined us there to watch the fun. The boys were really excited!


We even saw the Easter Bunny.


Caden had Shepard convinced that when the siren went off it was going to be super loud.

Waiting, waiting.


We were standing at the opposite side of the crowd so we definitely had our choice of eggs!

Checking out what was in the eggs. A lot of cheap candy, and tickets for three hula hoops, and passes for three free games of bowling. Not bad.


Back at home for our 4th Annual Egg Dyeing Party. These are the desserts I made. Homemade peanut butter eggs, oreo truffle eggs, and bird nests.


Starting to decorate. This year wasn’t quite so competitive with four of the five aunts and uncle unable to come back for Easter. The boys were having a great time, though!


We thought we had way too many eggs, but the boys were fighting over the remaining ones by the end.


Shepard was the speed dyer. I think he made 36 eggs, leaving them in only for a few seconds at a time.


Caden was dyeing as many eggs as possible at a time, but left them in as long as he could stand.


I made baked brie with cranberries and bacon for an appetizer. We ordered Chinese for an easy dinner.


My mom made some egg cookies.


Caden and Shepard started out the pecking contest. Shepard really had no idea what was going on, but Caden was really into it.


He was more interested in his new hula hoops.


The eggs! Most of those are Shepard’s.


Grandma and Caden about to battle. Caden loved it when he was winning and was very upset when he didn’t. He’s quite the sore loser and was so sure everyone was doing it to him on purpose! Later he was still complaining about it and how “I’m just a little boy!”


Shepard against Grandma.


Shepard against me. That’s it for Saturday – it was a fun day!


Easter morning! The Easter Bunny couldn’t fit everything in the regular baskets so he had to make a separate basket of treats for the table. I forgot to take a picture of our actual breakfast, but we had crumb cake, bacon, and strawberries with sugar.


The boys got up at six. They were supposed to stay in their rooms until 6:45, but they kept sneaking out earlier. I finally forced Greg to just get up so we wouldn’t have to rush so much to get everything done before church.


Shepard, who has been overly amused by so many things lately, thought finding an egg in a shoe was hilarious.


Checking out their first few eggs.


The Noe boy knee sit. I see this a lot.


A lot of the eggs had marbles, which they immediately had to add to their marble drawer.


They found my basket first. I had lots of books, yummy candy, a Lisa Leonard necklace, and a bunny I bought in Santa Monica.


They found Shepard’s basket next, though Caden wouldn’t stop digging through it.




Cat basket next.



I finally gave Caden a very strong hint where he might find his basket so he’d leave Shepard’s alone.


They each got robots, which I think have been the biggest hit.


Finally found Greg’s basket.


He got a Lego Computer Programmer Minifig. I think he was offended by how geaky the lego guy looked.


Next we ate breakfast and went to church. Then to Grandma Noe’s house for our first (second?) Easter celebration.


Always doing silly pictures now. I miss his super cute happy smiling picture face!


I really wanted a nice family picture, but I guess it was too sunny. Shepard didn’t have a smile in any of the pictures.



Greg’s uncle, cousin, and his son joined the family for Easter. Our boys were so happy to play with their three year old cousin, Jeremiah. Oh yeah – they’re now wearing swimsuits because Grandma gave them each a set and they were SO excited. Caden has been talking nonstop to anyone who will listen how he has a swimsuit SHIRT now and he’s never had one before and he wants to go swimming right away.


Checking out their eggs after another egg hunt!


The kids table. Funny stuff.



Easter desserts! I LOVE that strawberry pie.



Notice the grass is GREEN, nobody is wearing a coat, and we ate dessert outside! It was the first truly nice day this year. The perfect day for it!


In the afternoon we went over to my parents’ for our next Easter celebration. We spent most of the time outside there as well.


Trying out his new chalk pencil and eraser.




They had to spend most of the time working on Tyler’s math homework. Lame!


Shepard was pretty tired and having a lot of meltdowns by this point, but he was happy to get some more candy.


Pip was so tired. Such a funny looking dog.


I’m not really sure what was going on in here, but everyone was laughing pretty hard!

So that was Easter! Lots of egg hunts, lots of Easter baskets, and lots of fun!


Easter Week

Well, I was hoping to do an Easter post right after Easter. But it turned out to be a disastrous week and I haven’t had the energy to write until now. I’m over a week behind, so I guess I’ll just include everything from the past week instead of doing a bunch of separate posts as planned.

Easter. Ugh, Easter was a disappointment. In the middle of the night the Friday before, Caden woke up with the flu. Seriously, why do people always get sick in the middle of the night? And why when one person in a family gets the flu does everybody else HAVE to get it too?? I knew right away there was pretty much no way all four of us were going to be healthy on Easter. As it turned out, both Shepard and I got hit pretty hard late on Saturday night. It wasn’t pretty.

I always feel so bad when Shepard gets sick because he gets hit hard and it always lasts so long. He’s usually a pretty good tempered kid, but you could tell he was really miserable this time around. Fortunately, everyone at least felt well enough to hunt for eggs around the house on Easter morning.

Caden has been so obsessed with numbers and counting things lately. He kept lining up his candy by type and counting them over and over again. It reminds me a lot of how I used to be at holidays!

Jack, who usually steers pretty clear of the boys, was trying his best to cheer Shepard up. It was pretty cute. πŸ™‚

After the egg hunt in the morning I don’t have much else to say about Easter! Greg still felt fine and Caden was feeling better, so they headed off to Greg’s parents’ for Easter lunch. I think Caden had a lot of fun getting all the attention to himself! Shepard and I spent the entire day laying on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

On Monday, Greg was sick. I don’t even remember the specifics of each day anymore, but Shepard threw up many more times during the week. I still don’t feel totally back to normal. Caden got sick again at some point. Everybody that came near any of us during the weekend got some version of the flu too. We were all extremely cranky and exhausted all week and it was NOT fun.

Wednesday was Jack and Rory’s 8th birthday. I can’t believe we’ve had our cats for eight years already! I wasn’t really feeling up to preparing a big celebration like we had last year, but I did manage to throw some presents together for them.

Angel food cake with fresh strawberry sauce. The cake was so delicious! I actually made a second cake the next day it was so good!

Yesterday we had an Easter redo with my family. It actually worked out a lot better this way because my brother and sister-in-law weren’t able to come last week anyway. This Sunday we were all feeling better and the entire family could be together. It was our last time together before my brother and sister-in-law move to California. Bittersweet, but good to be together.

The boys got a new water table to play with at Grandma’s. I bought them these cute matching shirts for Easter and this is the only picture I got of the two of them together!

At least Greg and I were able to get a nice picture together! We don’t get many of those these days.

I’d just like to point out that we match because GREG picked his shirt to go with my dress. He’s learned well. πŸ™‚

It was decided pretty quickly that they were better off playing with a water table without their clothes on! They always prefer to be in their underwear anyway. No matter how cold it is.

Opening our Easter baskets from Grandma. Shepard got Ditty Kong, Caden Bowzer, and Greg Princess Peach – that completes their collection of Mario related stuffed animals.

Always a dog around trying to sneak some food!

Poor Shepard is at such a disadvantage in the egg hunts being so short!

He learned how to get help. πŸ™‚

Time for some relaxing with Uncle Tyler.

It was still pretty cold out, but everyone played outside for most of the afternoon. Shepard was thrilled to get back in the sandbox!

Juno was being very antisocial because she thought someone was going to steal her bone.

Caden’s idea of playing ball is just laying on top of it so nobody else can touch it.

Shepard throwing a tantrum. He’s gotten very good at it this past week. 
I’m still bummed that I missed out on real Easter and I’m trying to forget how horrible of a week it was. At least we were able to end it with a nice family get together. Hopefully with the start of spring (maybe?!) our illnesses will come to an end. I think Shepard has had five or six flus this winter (plus multiple colds and ear infections) and we are sick of it! 
Happy (belated) Easter!

3rd Annual Egg Dyeing Party

Yesterday was our third annual egg dyeing party and pecking contest. We started doing this the first year we were back in Wisconsin. It seemed a lot more fun to just invite everybody over to share in the joy of egg dyeing with the only kids in the family. It has officially become tradition!

Yesterday was also Caden’s half birthday! Already halfway to five, I can barely believe it. He’s growing up too fast.

I made him some giant cinnamon rolls for a special breakfast. Then he got to spend a chunk of the day at Grandma’s house. Something special for him and a very quiet day at home for the rest of us!

Shepard helped me set up the egg dye while we were waiting for everyone to come.

Putting one tablet in each cup proved to be more difficult for a two year old than I expected!

And it begins! Shepard seemed very confused and slightly intrigued by the egg dyeing concept. After he put it in he yelled, “Where did my egg go?!”

Getting the hang of it now.

Caden and Grandma made cookies for the party.

Caden was really proud of his C egg.

My eggs – pretty pathetic.

The well coordinated couch.

Setting up our bracket. Which maybe we shouldn’t have done because everybody just used their one or two eggs and stopped. Usually our pecking contest is a lot more cut throat without the bracket.

Forcing my parents to pose for a picture.

The Easter Bunny is on the loose!

I always make egg babies to be my champion.

These two are taking this very seriously.

It’s amazing Shepard didn’t get sick after how many jellybeans and chips he managed to convince people to give him.

Timmy is the winner with his ninja turtle egg!

Pizza and brownie pops for dinner.

We’re all exhausted and trying to squeeze on couches.

Doing a second round of egg pecking with Uncle Tyler. Shepard kept losing, but he thought it was pretty funny.

After eggs and eating we moved on to game time.

And bedtime!

It was a great party!