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what do you do when you normally spend easter weekend with family, and then suddenly that doesn't happen?

you make last-minute plans for family to come the weekend before easter ... then don't tell the kids ... then let them be super surprised when they get off the bus on friday ... then you celebrate "fauxster" on sunday instead, complete with an egg hunt. of course.

that's what we did last weekend. my parents are usually here for easter and couldn't stand the idea of not seeing the kids until whoknowswhen, so they decided to come up a week earlier than normal. we didn't tell the kids, just in case some wrench got in the works, so there were lots of smiles and hugs on friday after school.

saturday started out as a normal visit - we went to see "the croods", ate some fantastic mexican at rojo - and then harper decided that since we aren't going to get to celebrate easter this year, we'd just make our own. and by golly, there had to be eggs!!

so that's what we did saturday night.

first, i had to run to the store to get eggs. because all of our eggs were organic brown eggs. tough to color.

then we colored those new, white puppies.

as we were finishing up the eggs, marc decided to put on some music. and then astounded my mom by controlling it all on his phone.

that seemed pretty sci-fi to her.

the music started, and we went from the b-52s to regina spektor to skrillex to gangnam style ... and a dance party broke out.

(and i got a chill up my spine when i realized that i could totally see my boy five years from now ... life of the party, dancing it up and being a dorky hottie. *make time stop!!*)

during this time, harper was pouring all of the bowls of color into one and creating a suicide of color for her last egg.

she let it marinate for about an hour as we cleaned everything else up, hoping it would turn out black. it actually came out the most vivid, royal shade of purple. and harp declared it the queen egg.

the kids went to bed, and we told them that no egg hunting would take place before 8:30. the idea of not having to set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. to make sure eggs were hidden before sneaky children could wake and wander filled me with joy.

fauxster might be the best idea ever. there were small baskets of easter candy the next morning, but no stress to come up with something special from the bunny. and the kids - ie harper - were totally okay with that. because they knew it wasn't real easter. and they waited until 8:30 ... actually, we had to wake up henry because he was determined to sleep through the whole thing. i LOVE fauxster.

but up, they did get. and search for those eggs, they did.

harper was especially thrilled to see her queen egg was appropriately dressed:

(albeit sitting in a dish of wine corks.)

the remainder of the day felt like a holiday. the girls baked easter sugar cookies ...

grandpa and henry cracked each other up ...

and marc  napped watched basketball.

we closed out the day with a fancy fauxster dinner of burgers on the grill, and a concert: henry on the trombone, harper on the kazoo.

and that was that. a fauxliday visit that went too quickly. but it was good while it lasted.

dear diary:

there are so many things i've meant to share with you, but i just haven't had a moment to spare.

first of all, my eldest turned 13. i know. you're all, "what?! no!!" but seriously, yeah. he did.

it's crazy, and i'm still processing it myself.

he seems to be going through these adjustments of maturity. much more likely to come give me a hug or wrap his arm around me or rest his chin on my shoulder. because my shoulder is lower than his chin. it's like he's realizing that he's growing up quickly and maybe he'd better get some snuggling in while he still can.

he decided that all he really wanted to do for his birthday was have some buddies over for pizza and to play minecraft all night long. which they did. they started some world and didn't quit playing until they defeated it at 6 a.m.

he is also learning to march in band, and i think he's kind of digging it. he still likes band, but whether it sticks into high school remains to be seen.

henry also finished out the high school swim season with a pretty decent showing at jv sectionals. and at the awards banquet at the end of the season, the coach handed out records books to all of the boys. in it are lists of the top 10 swimmers in each age group for every event ... records going back to 1992 ... and henry's name was listed in the top 10 in every event he swam over the course of the season. ie his name was on the list in about eight different events, including taking the #3 spot for the 50 backstroke in the medley relay.

huge accomplishment.


(my kid, without the cap. he won't wear one.)

academically, henry is also still walking that line between making us very proud and making us pull our hair out. when he's on top of things, he's ON. but when he's off and not feeling like he needs to turn things in, we have trouble. however, his ancient civ/social studies class recently took part in the world savvy project, and henry's team's project was one of five from the two local middle schools to participate in the regional competition, held at macalester college.

the boys did a great job presenting their project about ocean pollution and, specifically, the trash islands in the pacific, during the interview process. then they separated into different groups for a roundtable discussion of world and environmental topics. at the end of the day, henry's group scored high enough to move onto the national online competition in may. pretty awesome.

he's had a good couple of months.

harper has also been a busy girl.

she turned eight. (again, "what?? no way!!" but yes. way.)

she is still 110% her own person, for better or worse. no one pushes my buttons more or makes my heart flutter quite so much. she's spectacular. and infuriating.

for her birthday, she also chose to keep it simple, even though the amount of time she spent deciding on her guest list would suggest otherwise. this girl's heart is so big that she wanted to make sure the girls she invited were all friends and knew each other and would have a great time together. in the end, she chose two neighbor friends and her "very best best friend," cecelia.

they played wii for about three minutes, decorated their own cupcakes, drew a gallery full of art, decorated the rest of the cupcakes because they ran out of things to do, and cecelia drew a mustache on harper. and that was that.

speaking of art, harper has become obsessed with drawing. every day, a new stack of pictures appear. typically, she draws mermaids and dragons. or herself in various stages of growth, as a tiny series of paper dolls that she then cuts out and leaves scattered all over the place. one day, she had a president homework assignment and chose to draw three presidents for extra credit: eisenhower, arthur, and obama. and then she added the capitol and a tree for extra extra credit.

she's been taking a class through community education called "young rembrandts," where she is learning actual techniques and how to "see" what she wants to draw. her skills are fine tuning, and she loves it.

she is also becoming rather musical. i think i'm going to sign her up for piano lessons because she appears to have the ability to pick out, learn, and memorize songs on her little keyboard. imagine what she could do with a full keyboard and knowledge of where the notes are! the other day, she came to me and played a song she had taught herself: the "do re me" song, all the way up to "fa," when she ran out of notes on her piano.


speaking of music, her school's class concert was last week, and harper was selected to be in the kazoo band. she thought that was pretty great. and played the kazoo most of the weekend.

currently, harper is fighting a cold and is on day 2 of laying on the couch, snuffling and drinking tea and watching "my little pony."

in other news, the kids just had their first-ever snow day. we got a foot of snow - not normally something that would slow us down, but the timing was bad for plows and school buses.

so while henry shoveled, harper dug out a little igloo, made a pantry, and filled it with sunny d.

and while i was taking photos of that, mario snuck out of the front door to see what this "snow" business was all about.

half a second after this photo was taken, his paw touched the snow, he jumped half a foot straight in the air, and ran back in the house. where he belongs.

later that afternoon, harper wanted to check out her sunny d to see if it was frozen.

it was not. but i told her that as long as she was out there, she might as well get the mail, too.

and that's what we've been up to. or, at least, a very glossed over and abbreviated version. but now i've caught you up. and now i can go back to ignoring you for another couple of months.


why we dig minnesota

(there are many, many reasons, actually ... this just happens to be the most recent.)

we dig minnesota because in the winter, which stretches from october until april or, some years, may, the people of this state still have fun.

like this year: some artist had this idea to build an icicle farm and a framework that incorporates lights and hoses, then harvest the icicles and attach them to the framework, grow more icicles, watch the icicles grow into stalactites and stalagmites from the spray off the hoses, and so on and so forth for a good month or so, and at the end? giant walk-through ice castle - several acres big, 40 feet tall - that looks straight out of hoth. we expected to see poor luke skywalker suspended from the ceiling in every new room we entered.

but we didn't. instead, we just saw something beautiful and interesting.

(yes ... that's the moon. not a space station. sorry ... no more star wars references.)

there were more than 200 "dragon eggs" used throughout the castle: perfectly round and smooth spheres of ice that are set around the grounds - some lit, some not. this particular wall was built from eggs. we ran into the artist who created it, and she said that when she first put up the wall, the spheres were completely clear. but as the weather changed, they changed with it - getting cracked or clouded and becoming more interesting.

harp found this one and decided to "hatch" it.

all of the different ways the icicles formed and changed were amazing. some straight, some twisty, some clear, some draped. since the castle started, our temps have fluctuated from teens to -60 wind chills to the mid-30s with rain, and each type of weather affected the look in its own way.

hard to believe all of this was in a parking lot.

well done, minnesota.