Savoring Easter Blessings

The Aussie kids’ Easter parade is absolutely THE most adorable thing ever!  SO fun!  It was great to see a holiday celebrated by kids in schools, although a shock that it was Easter.  As I had figured, a lot of families went all out on the kids’ hats and there were some gorgeous, creative creations.  As for me, I took the easiest way out possible.  Last week I kept Drew home from school for a couple days and one day we went to a Mom/Kid church music group.  After the music, the staff put out all the supplies for the kids to do yellow chick Easter hats.  Drew was thrilled, made his with very little help from me and asked me, “Can I wear this in my Easter parade at school next week?”  I didn’t have to think long about what that answer would be—the most thought went to how to save it from being destroyed over the next 9 days!  He was proud as punch of his hat and that’s the goal.

Drew told me yesterday morning, “I hope it’s a real parade this time,” still remembering the disappointment of learning that a parade was an assembly.  Well, it was another assembly.  Who would have guessed that?!  But, they did have the kids “parade” into the hall (what we would call the gym) and then “parade” around the outskirts of the basketball court, class by class, so they could pass by all the parents watching.  It was precious.  Then they had each class come up individually (the parade was for Prep through 2nd grade, and there are a few classes in each grade level) and perform a song they’d been practicing.  That was just too adorable as well.  Except, Drew’s unfortunate song was “Aussie Easter, Oi, Oi, Oi!”, which now Zach walks around the house saying over and over.  Seriously?!  Should we make up an “American Easter, YeeHaw!” song?  Is there a Canadian Easter, or French Easter song?  I just cannot wrap my head around the reason why they make global/religious/pagan celebrations into a patriotic national holiday.  There is really nothing different about an Aussie Easter to any other, as far as I can tell. 

But, the program was lots of fun; the Easter Bunny came at the end, and then all the kids were sent home with bags of chocolate eggs.  That is one difference that I also mentioned last year—the focus on chocolate.  My Australian friend who lives with her family in Colorado is visiting now and we spent a beautiful two days with them last week.  She and I were talking about the chocolate difference and it was a fun conversation.  The U.S. definitely does more in terms of Easter-related toys, marshmallow candies, and jelly beans, etc. and here it is all about the chocolate—right up to the regulation-sized chocolate footballs!  I have found more paraphernalia this year though for the boys’ Easter baskets than I could last year, so hopefully it will slowly change, as the world over starts to realize we need to start eating a bit better….

Before our friends came, I realized that theirs are the only familiar faces we’ve seen from home since moving here, and the last time was a year ago.  It hit me what a blessing it is to see a familiar face in the midst of so much change and newness.  We all loved it.  Drew was bursting with pride to be able to show his friends his school; we loved sharing our home with people; it was just a precious time.

A few days later, I had another of my seemingly ongoing “incidents” that, now that I look back, kicked off a pretty crummy few days.  I had gone to another counseling session on Friday and was thinking how well things were going, how good I’m feeling, and how I’m ready to strike out on my own again soon.  A new American friend suggested meeting for lunch up near her, and I decided it’d be good for me, because I have become pretty comfortable in recent weeks with our little routine and the places I drive to, and it is good and necessary for me to keep learning more about this area and growing in confidence and familiarity and finding a new place would be good for that.  Haha!  Yep, I got lost—again.  I ended up in a gigantic, crowded, terrifying, shopping center parking lot, where I couldn’t find a place to pull over and call her.  So, I just stopped in one of the lanes and put my hazards on.  The shopping patrons loved that!  Oh, well.  Hopefully they were able to enjoy the rest of their Sunday.

A long 45 minutes later, I found her and we had a lovely lunch and finding my way home was easy.  That night, I was up all night with a stomach bug, and Steve left to take his students camping for three days the next morning, after blessedly, taking both boys to school.  I was able to fall asleep that afternoon a bit more than I hour before I had to leave to go pick them up.  I felt bad that I had forgotten to turn in Drew’s order for hot cross buns for the school fundraiser, so I made myself get to the school before the office closed at 4:00.  The deadline to order was 3:00, but I asked if I could turn ours in and they said it was fine, so I felt better about that.  I kept putting my head down on the table during their dinner that night, and Zach would say, “Mommy, why are you sleeping during dinner?!”

That night, I think a fever broke because I was up a lot confused and sweating, but the next day thought I should go to work because we could use the money and it’s not a very taxing job.  It probably wasn’t the best decision, but it all worked out.  Wednesday morning, I was still having some lingering issues that just would not allow me to eat decent food, and Drew slept in until about 8:30.  This school schedule is catching up to him!  It’s great that he has over two weeks off now.  I don’t have the heart to wake up kids this young for school, so we went in late and had to stop at the office to get a late pass.   Because the streets in our area are so narrow, and they still allow parking on both sides, cars cannot travel in both directions without one pulling over to let the car coming the other direction get through first.  When I started to pull my car out, I didn’t realize that the truck coming towards me needed all the room available on the road, until I had already started pulling out.  I overcorrected, back to the left, and bumped the car parked in front of the spot I was pulling out of along the street.  I re-parked the car (badly!) and went back into the office to tell them what I did, figuring they’d know whose car it was.  I started to tell the ladies, and the waterworks just got out of my control, nonstop.

They had me come all the way in and sit down, and, of course, offered me tea.  What?!  They asked if they could call my husband and I said he was out of town, so they asked if there was anyone else they could call.  My waterworks turned up as I said no.  They said, “Are you SURE you don’t want tea?”  I completely freaked out all male school employees that morning—it was pretty hilarious, I must admit.  Men with women crying hysterically in their offices do not mix.  I composed myself and headed home feeling VERY sad.  I put a sad post on Facebook that served its purpose, as it always does and for that I am so grateful to technology.  My family skyped us, and Zach was very cuddly and the day got better.  Life got better, as it always does. 

That afternoon when I picked Drew up at school, we parked on a side street.  When we walked across that main street in front of the school, Zach looked back at the cars parked on that street and he said, “Mommy, you didn’t hit that black car—good job!  Yay, Mommy!”  Then we saw our friend and he yelled across the pathways to her: “Hi!  Mommy didn’t bump that car over there!”  How could I ever NOT be completely assured that I have support in life?!  You can’t find a better cheerleader than that. 

I couldn’t find our hot cross buns that we’d ordered and I spent quite a bit of time trotting the boys to different areas of the school to find them.  Back in his classroom, I finally learned that because I had put the order in so late, we couldn’t get any, but they had our money for us to pick up back at the office.  So, I had to go back there!  When we walked in, the lady said, “Love, this is not your day is it?”  Steve got home that evening, and yesterday I started feeling much better, complete with quality time spent chatting with precious girlfriends.  The school principal even had a super funny exchange with Steve and I after the parade, telling me how much my crying had freaked him out (in a hilarious, Aussie-man, way!).

Today is Good Friday, and there is another difference about Easter here, although I’m not sure how it compares to other countries—it is a 4-day weekend due to no separation of church and state.  It is a fabulous time to just slow down and enjoy each other, and I do feel that we as Americans don’t slow down enough, and just hang out.  We were invited over to a friend’s house to make hot cross buns, which are a HUGE deal here, as well as in their home of South Africa, and which I have never made.  It was just a lovely, relaxed, fun morning.  I was telling my visiting friend last week that that is something I have enjoyed the most about living here—the slower, relaxed pace, the additional time and effort spent on savoring relationships.  Other North Americans have observed to me that holidays are not as a big of a deal down here, and I do agree that we make more of an effort to REALLY enjoy our holidays with loved ones, and I think part of that must be, in the U.S. anyway, because of the more limited amount of them and time off in general.  It is great to have time to slow down, surround yourself with people you love and who love you, and just cherish what’s important in this life.

I will end today by recording a story that happened last night that emphasizes what’s important to me in my life:  After we got home from school, the boys were hiding the chocolate eggs for each other and taking turns finding them.  Zach flushed some of the eggs down the toilet, saying that we’d find them soon when the waves washed them up on the beach.  Included in the unfortunately flushed eggs were some of the ones Drew had made in school.  To say he was upset is an understatement.  I comforted him by telling him a story of when I was a kid.  I had done a school project that I was really proud of; I had read a book about a woman who painted and I made a doll of the woman for school.  When I brought the doll home, my little brothers wrecked it and I was very sad.  Drew quieted down and I went on to explain how little brothers don’t know enough to know how important our school projects are to us, and they’re not trying to intentionally hurt us.  I then talked about all the chocolate we would be accumulating throughout the weekend through numerous fun plans and assured him we would not really miss what was flushed. 

Drew perked up and ran off, told me he was making me a surprise and got busy drawing.  I didn’t think much of it, because he’s constantly making craft projects these days (in fact, is often pretty annoying about it, like this morning, when he started trying to make Easter hats one minute after getting out of bed), and loves to give surprises to people.  A little while later he came up to me with a cute little drawing.  I asked him to tell me about it, and he said, “I made you the woman who paints because your brothers wrecked your doll when you were little, and I know Zach and I won’t wreck this one.”  I was just overcome with emotion, with all that had gone on this week, for someone so small to make such an incredibly kind gesture, and the tears came again.  He choked up, too.  We had a group hug, and Zach, who was sticking markers in my hair at the time, got concerned and said “What’s wrong Mommy?”  Drew looked at him with tears in his eyes and very seriously said to him, “Zach, she’s crying because she’s happy.”  I have everything I need to make me happy, all the support in the world, right in this house.  Savoring relationships, relishing our loved ones—that is what’s important in life. 

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