Fun-for-all instead of Free-for-all

egghuntBy now you’ve probably heard of the Easter egg hunt gone bad in Orange, Conn. that was sponsored by the Pez Candy Co. Can you relate? Have you ever attempted a public Easter egg hunt? I have. And they generally aren’t much fun. Too many kids, too few prizes, too much frustration.

In my limited experience with such events, some kids always got loads of eggs while others got none. They were mostly a frenzy of confusion for the younger kids – parents screaming or dragging them along. Or no parental supervision of bully-types with no self restraint. There were always kids at different ages, some bigger, some faster, some pushing other kids out of their way. Sadly, such hunts expose an ugly side of humanity in what is supposed to be a fun event in celebration of a Christian holiday.

After attending a few of these events when my daughter was young, I swore off of them. And started my own. My goal was to create a nicer, gentler, more civilized affair. I did it by taking out the competitive component, and eliminating the free-for-all battleground, which, in turn, added the fun!

For about ten years, I hosted an Easter Egg hunt/party for friends and neighborhood kids. I had rules – rules designed to make the event FUN and FAIR for the KIDS! Simple: Younger kids got a head start, and every kid got the same number of eggs.

Of course, on a much smaller scale, it was much easier to orchestrate. And with friends. By invitation only. (I believe there was only one kid who got booted off the invitation list for obnoxious behavior such as greedily grabbing too many eggs or opening an egg then tossing it back if he didn’t like what was inside. Seriously.)

My husband and I would fill and hide 700 to 1,000 plastic eggs. We have a large yard, and a vacant lot behind our property, which is owned by a neighbor gracious enough to allow us to use it.

When everyone gathered, I counted the number of children and divided the number of eggs by that number (maybe minus one or two just in case someone showed up late or all the eggs couldn’t be found). Most years this gave each child 20-25 eggs. The kids were told that once they got to that number of eggs they were done. They could have a cookie and something to drink, then pick a spot and sit down and open their eggs.

The eggs were filled with candy and small prizes such as bouncy balls, coins, nail polish, etc. I went to great lengths to find fun, age-appropriate prizes. And gender-specific ones, too. Blue eggs had boy prizes, and pink eggs had girl prizes. All the others were gender neutral.

It was great fun. For kids and parents. It became a tradition that friends looked forward to. And I’m pretty sure everyone went home happy.  🙂

What holiday traditions have you started? Or ended?!

It’s really not the U.S. of A.

waterfallSo, Puerto Rico.

It’s a United States Territory. You don’t have to have a passport to go there. And they’ll take your American dollars just fine. But don’t let anyone tell you it’s the same as being in the U.S. It’s not.

I was there with the fam for spring break last week. Overall, I’d say we had a good time . . . but not everything went as expected. Just in case you ever decide to visit this tropical island, here are a couple of key things you might want to know: 1. Not everyone speaks English. Or, not well. 2. Yes, they drive on the right side of the streets there, but the highway signs are in SPANISH. There’s no selecting “1” to get the information in English. So if you plan to rent a car to do some sightseeing, you might want to brush up on your Espanol. It’s particularly helpful to know that East is Este, West is Oeste, etc. Fortunately, on the day we drove to the El Yunque rain forest, we had our son, who has just finished his second college-level Spanish class, with us. But then for a few days . . . we didn’t.

Oh, one other thing – Puerto Rico has crazy, bumper to bumper traffic! No one I talked to, no websites I perused or travel brochures I looked at ever mentioned the bad traffic. Getting from San Juan to Palmas Del Mar at 4 p.m. was truly as bad as driving in L.A., which is where we usually find ourselves on spring break. The taxi driver at the San Juan airport was not pleased about drawing our number that afternoon! Didn’t need fluency in Spanish to read his body language and figure that out.

Also, unless you have AT&T cell service, you’re going to rack up some significant charges if you want to use your phone’s GPS to help you get around. And don’t expect things to run on time. Well, according to a schedule, that is. Everything there is on “island time.” So when the hotel staff says the concierge will be there at 9 a.m., he might show up within the hour. Just because the guy at the golf cart/car rental place answers the phone and says you can pick up said vehicle, it does NOT mean he’s actually at the rental office. But don’t worry, he’ll get there eventually! An 8:30 snorkeling expedition? You could leave the marina around 9:30-ish. Maybe. If you’re a go-with-the-flow, “whatever” kind of person, this will be no problem for you. But if you’re used to running on time and scheduling activities, you might find the hurry-up-and-wait routine a little frustrating. I suggest you take a deep breath – and avoid wearing a watch.

In the first couple of days we were there, I found myself thinking I’d never go back, but as the week progressed, things improved. Once we got to the resort area and figured out the lay of the land (I mean found the pool and beach), we did OK. We had good food, found places to watch the NCAA basketball games, and enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures. Most people were friendly and helpful, and it was great to see both of my kids!

I’d go back – I’d just have different expectations! 🙂

So many sights to see!


With Spring Break upon us, and the promise of summer in the not-too-distant future (yay!) I’m thinking vacation!

I enjoy road trips and sightseeing. I think my favorite vacations combine a little nature and relaxation with exploring famous places. Most, well, all of my travel (except that brief cross into Canada to see Niagara Falls) has been in the United States. Though I’d love to cross the pond one of these days, there’s a lot to see in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Here are the Top 10 American landmarks or national parks I’ve been to so far:

  1. Mt. Rushmore
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Badlands
  4. Yellowstone Park/Old Faithful
  5. Top of Pike’s Peak
  6. Olympic National Park
  7. Niagara Falls
  8. The Statue of Liberty
  9. The National Mall (monuments) including Capitol, White House, Library of Congress and several Smithsonian museums.
  10. Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Some other cool places or sights I’ve seen include Joshua Tree National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sonoma/Napa wine areas, orcas in the San Juan Islands, Chincoteague/Assateague islands and the outerbanks of North Carolina, Sunrise at Haleakala National Park (volcano) in Maui, the bluebonnets blooming in Texas, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Forest, and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Of course all of these places represent an adventure with stories all their own — I’ll get to those some other time. 🙂

Places I’d still like to explore some day: the Everglades, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and Alaska/glaciers/Denali.

Which American landmark is your favorite, and what’s still on your list?

Color me Happy

1013304_968049943248254_1796943573890512076_nI’m so excited to see the early spring flowers blooming!! If you’ve followed me for long, you know I am no friend of Old Man Winter. Ice, sleet, snow, cold . . . not a fan. So when the crocus and daffodils start poking up through the ground, I start a happy dance. I have to say, it honestly does affect my mood. What could be cheerier than bright yellow daffodils smiling at you?

Today is gray and dreary, and the entire week promises to be cloudy and rainy. But the patches of yellow dotting my yard and the neighborhood remind me that it’s spring, and soon, there will be no need for jackets and socks. I can trade my boots for flip-flops and my jeans for capris. I say, Bring. It. On!!!

As I’m typing, I can see the magnolia buds swaying in the breeze, perhaps only a few days from bursting with color. Now that is an amazing sight. They are the first to explode around here – which also means they often get nipped. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, that this early spring is the real thing. Color the landscape, and color me happy!

What is the first sign of spring in your area? Are you seeing it already?