Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making Easter Memories

Anyone who has ever taught Primary (Youth Sunday School) likely has wondered whether or not kids listen to a single word. As a parent, I'm always surprised by how much my children actually absorb. It may not be the take-home message you hoped to send, but trust me, they listen.

Brooklyn, for example, came home last week positively raving about an Easter tradition that her Primary teacher talked about. She pestered us so much about it that we finally decided that our family would adopt the tradition too--at least for this year.

On Friday morning, Brooklyn and Talia woke up to find a cute little bunny sitting on the kitchen table along with the following note. (Heaven help the poor soul who composed such cheesy poetry! It's rather embarrassing to post it, but this blog doubles as our family journal, so here it is for the record.)
Good morning Wheeler children!
I'm Polly and I'll be your guide.
I'll lead you to your Easter baskets
Where ever they may hide.

Just read each clue
And hunt with care.
When you find the spot,
I'll be there!

First of all,
Look for the place
Where planes take off
And land with grace.

Drive south two hours,
It's not that far.
But don't dilly dally--
Hop in the car!

We finally found Polly at the Las Vegas airport, perched on a stool by the slot machines adjacent to the baggage claim. Naughty bunny!

The good news is that our trip to Sin City wasn't a complete loss. We picked up Papa Kay while we were at it. :)

Polly's next note read as follows:
Great job, kids!
I'm proud of you.
Now it's time for clue number two.

Drive to a place
Where the water won't flow.
They've blocked a big lake
To make power go.

Look for a reservoir
With the whole fam.
Fill in the blank.
It's the Hoover _ _ _.

Yup, you guessed it! After stopping for pancakes and a playplace, we headed straight for the Hoover Dam. We enjoyed crossing the newly completed Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge--the second highest in the U.S. It provided a stunning view of the dam below.

Papa Kay explains the dam history. (No smirking, please.)

Even the kids were intrigued by the high-quality exhibits.

Brooklyn steps one foot in Nevada and the other in Arizona.

Papa Kay snaps a family photo.

And of course, we found Polly waiting. Here are the girls reading the next clue:

There's a place you enjoy
At the top of the hills.
Made of red rock
With tiny "hotels."

Named after our ancestors,
The brave pioneers.
Search this great park
For my cute bunny ears.

And so, on Saturday we visited a St. George gem, Pioneer Park. The kids love scaling the red rock and hiding in the thousands of "hotels"--hollowed out pockets in the sandstone. Here's Billy-goat Brooklyn.

Eli naturally wants to do everything his sisters do.

The hunt continues.

It took a lot of searching, but eventually Polly was recovered.

Our bunny had the following to say:
My two little girls,
So sweet and so smart,
I hope you'll find me
At the Festival of Art!

To spy my pink nose
I ask that you please
Go to the booth
Selling Girl Scout cookies!

We forgot to snap a picture of Polly at the cookie booth, perhaps because we were so blissfully delirious following our stop at the cupcakery. Eli sure seemed to enjoy his snack!

The Art Festival itself was fantastic with a great section set up for kids. We designed with packing peanuts...

Made sock puppets...

And even got our hair braided!

Our own tangled Rapunzel.

The Utah Music Educators Association even invited us to drum around on their pots and pans.

We had so much fun crafting, watching the dancers, and playing in the water that it was hard to leave. Fortunately, we knew that a fun evening of Easter egg dying was waiting at home. (Sorry, no pictures!) Before we left, though, Polly had this to say:
You're getting close now,
Not too much more.
Snow Canyon's the place
You'll want to explore.

You'll get there fast
If you sing a few tunes.
Go look on the top of
The Petrified Dunes.

Now, at this point things got a little hairy. During stake conference Brooklyn thought that she spied Polly stashed away in my purse. In the end, we decided that it must have been her twin sister Molly.

With the drama settled, we took a walk in Snow Canyon after church.

Guess what we found?

And guess who we found?

Polly's last message was as follows:
Great job, my dear friends!
I’m so proud to say
That you’ve found your reward
On this bright Easter day.

Enjoy your baskets!
Play and have fun!
Savor your treats
In the hot Dixie sun.

But please remember
On this day of our Lord
That there’s much more to Easter
Than chocolate to hoard.

Our Lord Jesus Christ
Gave his life for us all,
Making it possible
To repent when we fall.

He died on the cross
But rose three days later,
Making it so we can
All live together.

I’m so glad I can tell you
That these things are true.
For now and forever—
Jesus loves you!

Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles had sent a wonderful package containing twelve plastic eggs filled with twelve remembrances of Christ's life and resurrection. So as the kids ate their candy, we sat down and learned of the Savior.

At one point Brooklyn commented on how she never knew that the Easter bunny taught about Jesus. Well, perhaps he doesn't in most places, but in our home it makes for a nice balance between the sacred and secular.

In some ways, I scaled back this Easter season. I only put up a few decorations, never even opening the big box. Instead of filling Easter baskets myself, I purchased them ready-made. The candy was minimal, the sugar cookies never got baked, I didn't even touch a Peep. But in the end, I'm glad that I put the energy into this hunt instead. There were lots of places that we wanted to visit with my Dad, and the search made it easy to motivate the kids to come along. It also made Easter special, filling it with sweet memories instead of sweet candy. So Dad, thank you so much for coming, and Mom, we miss you and wish you were here!


Erin said...

Was that all in one day? Holy cats.

Megan Ficek said...

You didn't get the sugar cookies baked? Sheesh, you are such a major slacker...

Kara said...

Nope Erin, I'm afraid that there's no super-scavenging around here. :) Even spread out over three days, our hunting itinerary maxed out the little-kid attention spans.

CK said...

Oh this sounds like a lot of fun and involved. I wonder if we could do something similar just on a hike around town some day. I bet the kids would love it.