the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The extent of the religion in this house

Yesterday morning when I mentioned to Leta that the Easter Bunny had brought her a basket full of goodies she presented me with a blank face. I don’t know what I was expecting because we hadn’t ever talked about it before and she didn’t know that she was supposed to be excited. I could have said, “GAH GAH GAH GAH GAH,” and it would have meant the same thing to her: sentence does not contain any instances of the words “Elmo” or “cookie” so I can stop paying attention now.

We didn’t prepare her for the event for a few reasons. One, we are lazy. Two, how do you explain the Easter Bunny to a two-year-old? Look, Sweetie, this giant bunny wearing a bow-tie is going to break into the house while you’re sleeping because Jesus died for your sins. Three, on the off chance that she did catch on to the whole concept the last thing I wanted to do was listen to her ask about the Easter Bunny every four seconds. Already we’ve had to start spelling words in front of her because certain ones can trigger dangerous fits of hyperventilation, words like gummy bear and Grandmommy. I made a huge mistake last week when I told her that we were going to Grandmommy’s house later that afternoon because she stopped breathing air after she heard GRANDMOMMY and didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. The disappointment over the fact that Grandmommy was in fact not in our house that very instant was such that I had to talk her out of throwing her body into traffic.

Also, M&M’s are now known around here as “the letter that comes after L – ampersand – the letter that comes after L’s.”

Because we are no longer a very religious family we didn’t attend any church services, but we did celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior by dyeing eggs. Nothing says “Jesus is risen!” like a festive hard-boiled egg. This is an activity that until yesterday I had never taken part of, and I used to think my parents were ogres for having denied us that experience. Now I know they were just smart. At one point Leta had her left foot submerged in the bowl of green dye, and in each hand she held an egg that she would seconds later throw in a straight line at the ground.

Jesus is risen!

It was a picture of The Armstrongs at our finest: both Jon and I still in our pajamas, hair pointing in every direction except the right one, our child standing ankle-deep in a bowl of green vinegar with shards of egg shell tossed about like glitter. I can laugh about it now but at the time I was a wreck because I had a mental tally going of how many surfaces she could destroy with that dye. Jon kept telling me to relax because this mess was the essence of the activity, because we were creating memories with our child. And I totally see his point, which is why next year I think we should dye eggs while we’re drunk and naked.

  • Amy

    2006/04/18 at 6:14 am

    You are brave parents! The mess you described was the reason I too scared to dye eggs w/ my 21 month old. Instead we went and played in the park with the other non-church-goers in Hoboken. Maybe next year, Olivia’s mommy will be a little braver – and yes, alcohol should always be included!

  • BrittanyGifford

    2006/04/18 at 6:07 am

    LOL. Sounds fun. We’re not religious either and since it’s just my son and I we didn’t do a thing for Easter. I did however eat a whole chocolate bunny all to myself and then felt sick to my stomach! Damn Easter bunny! Damn chocolate! About the only way I celebrated with my 7 month old is by getting his picture taken with the Easter bunny so later on in life I can lie to him and make him think we did do something for Easter that day.

  • Rissa Roo

    2006/04/18 at 6:01 am

    I let my mother handle introducing my son to the joys of Easter egg dying. She was willing to supervise my 5 yr old son and 5 year old nephew as they colored and dyed eggs. It was my sons first time and the most exciting part for him was handling the eggs without the fear of making a huge mess if he dropped one.

    My sister-in-law brought over puffy paints to decorate the eggs after they were dry. This was just weird. When they were finished half of the eggs looked like they had brightly-colored tumors on them. But the boys were happy.

    The whole thing is odd because my mother was a complete neat freak when I was growing up, and now she lets her grandsons run wild in the house with blue and green dye dripping from their little fingers.

    My fiance and I spent the whole time in our office doing our taxes. BIG FUN.

  • rivetergirl

    2006/04/18 at 6:01 am

    Um, drunk and naked … is there any other way to color eggs?

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/04/18 at 6:01 am

    I tried to talk my husband out of dyeing eggs this year; our daughter is only two and wouldn’t know it either way. He refused to listen to me, and lived to regret it!

    In the midst of the craziness our daughter picked up the orange dye and drank it! Apparently the vinager was to her liking because she drank it all!! After she finished she said, “Icky Apple.” Oh, nice she thought it was bad apple juice…and still drank it all!

    My husband freaked and called Poison Control, but they said that it’s just fine and it should pass without incident…boy where they wrong!

    Around 2am Easter morning, we could hear a muffled cough coming from her room. Normally we’d continued sleeping, but something told us that this wasn’t all that normal. When we went into her room we were greated by orange puke!! The vinager didn’t agree with the pizza that was already in her stomach!

    The next day she refused to drink her favorite drink…apple juice.

  • LeafGirl77

    2006/04/18 at 6:00 am

    PS – The picture in your profile rocks. I absolutely love it. Great do.

  • LeafGirl77

    2006/04/18 at 5:58 am

    Oh man, egg dying rocks! But you’re right…the essence of the season? Hardly!

    I always find I’m disappointed in the colours that result, but it’s still fun anyway.

    Now you need to find some fun recipes so that you can eat all those eggs. That’s the real fun.

  • William

    2006/04/18 at 5:55 am

    Here is to a week of eating rainbow colored egg salad.

  • Snickrsnack Katie

    2006/04/18 at 5:53 am

    Since I moved to Texas five years ago, I have come to love the tradition of creating confetti eggs. Basically, you cut off the tops of eggs, get rid of the innards and allow the eggshell to dry, you dye the egg shell, and place confetti inside the hole. Then you put tissue paper on top and glue it shut, and hide the eggs for the kids. Once they are found, they smash the eggs on one another, confetti flying everywhere. Imagine the look on the one year old’s face when she realized she was allowed to destroy something – actually, we were encouraging her to destroy something! And my four year old was running around the yard, hands stained with egg dye from the night before, hollering for more jelly beans. He kept repeating “I LOVE EASTER, I LOVE EASTER!” The sugar highs experienced that day were phenomenal.

    I am glad Leta enjoyed the day!

  • Leilia

    2006/04/18 at 5:51 am

    You could also try pig latin.. If ig pay is pig then m+m would be.. mmm ey and mmmm ey.. or you could alter it a bit.. try mmmmm yay and mmmmm yay.. Leta might think you are bringing an Armstrong meeting to order 🙂

  • Trish

    2006/04/18 at 5:50 am

    My son spent Easter with his father and stepmother, so I was Super Mom by going to the after Easter sale and stocking up on half price candy and egg dye. There are SOME benefits of divorce.

  • Amy

    2006/04/18 at 5:49 am

    As a little Jewish kid we always took the time to blow the egg innards out a pinprick hole before we decorated for easter. Why don’t I know a single Christian person who did this? Why did we do this every year while simultaneously celebrating Passover? I don’t know. But, it is really satisfying to get all the innards of an egg out of it through a pinhole and then carefully decorate the remaining shell. Try it next year! 🙂

  • the niffer

    2006/04/18 at 5:30 am

    “…which is why next year I think we should dye eggs while we’re drunk and naked.”

    …and smokin a bowl.

    How come no pics of the crazy hair and eggshells?

  • marian

    2006/04/18 at 5:35 am

    Finally another child who throws the eggs. I thought I had the only one.

  • kevin

    2006/04/18 at 5:45 am

    That sounds like the best Easter activity ever. Dying Easter Eggs while drunk AND naked? I think that’s what God originally intended for us all to do on Easter.

    Definitely better than Church.

  • Msyvone

    2006/04/18 at 5:26 am

    Hi Heather!

    My family and i had a discussion this weekend about how to handle religion with my 4 month old daughter. I’m a non-practicing Presby, my husband is Atheist, and we live in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. What to do what to do!

    Until your post, it never occured to me that I would have to explain a large bunny bringing candy and gifts. I guess I thought we’d just do it, and it would be accepted as fact. I forgot about the questions that might come up…DOH!
    Not sure how much a sunday school class would help though!

    Did you baptise Leta? I am so on the fence with that, since I’d feel like such a hypocrite if I did, not being a “good church going person”, and I don’t think i’m going to become one anytime soon!

    Well, maybe I’ll go nuke a peep and check out Belief-o-matic. I’ve learned so much from the comments today!

    Love your site, Thanks for the laughs!

  • trublu76

    2006/04/18 at 4:43 am

    We were able to ‘spell’ the things we didn’t want the kids to understand for a while, but then their damn teachers taught them how to spell… education… humph.
    So, then we started spelling phonetically (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta…) it takes a little longer to get a word out, but my oldest just recently figured it out and she’s 9.

  • Brad Martin

    2006/04/18 at 4:51 am

    I think the only reason that I really like dying eggs is because I’m Jewish, and when I first did it I didn’t understand why, then when I knew what I was doing it felt like a nice, dirty, little secret. I’ll be the creepy guy in the park wearing an overcoat and carrying around little trays full of vinegar trying to score some eggs.

  • kidsmom

    2006/04/18 at 4:59 am

    “It’s the process, NOT the product”, or some other such platitude experienced parents will throw at you.

  • strawberrygoldie

    2006/04/18 at 4:41 am

    I love the Dying of the Eggs. Clorox Clean Up is my homie…saves the day every time.

    We did not attend church, either. Instead, we filled out this “Belief-O-Matic” thingee on Beliefnet.

    According to the site, my husband and I are both Neo Pagans. COOL.

  • jes

    2006/04/18 at 4:35 am

    ooh la la – dying easter eggs while drunk and naked sounds so fun! but, why stop at eggs? WHY NOT DYE DIFFERENT SECTIONS OF YOUR ENTIRE BODY?

  • UpsideUp

    2006/04/18 at 4:30 am

    Regarding M&Ms. My daughters called them “Blue-Greens” when they were younger. The first time we gave them Children’s Tylenol (from the cup instead of the syringe) we called it “Blue-Green Juice” to ensure they drank it (instead of pouring it on their heads). It worked. Sometimes, one of the twins needed Blue-Green Juice and the other didn’t. So we gave her a decoy cup with water in it. We called that “White Blue-Green Juice.” That worked too.

    Man, this parenting thing is so freakin easy.

  • Erin

    2006/04/18 at 4:26 am

    HAHA I think drunken naked dying (and rising?!)of Easter eggs sounds like a fabulous idea. I can’t wait to dye easter eggs with my family one day.

  • YankeeAmanda

    2006/04/18 at 4:28 am

    You could call M&Ms chocolate medicine. Could be useful later.

  • parkerja

    2006/04/18 at 4:18 am

    Until my sister was, let’s say 10 yrs. old, our mother made her dye eggs in the bathtub in her underwear. HA! She’s so proud of that memory, but it did contain the mess a bit.

  • Strizz

    2006/04/18 at 4:16 am

    Sara~~ I have heard the suck and blow method rocks, but we always want to eat them when we are done. I guess we could spit and make scrambled eggs.

  • kierewalker

    2006/04/18 at 4:08 am

    Your mother is going to give you the strangest look when she hears Leta asking you for an “after L ampersand”. Because Leta is that smart.

    Your eggs, your tulips and (especially) your Leta are all beautiful!

  • Strizz

    2006/04/18 at 4:13 am

    Margi just started painting her body after a bit, THAT was fun!

    Leta is going to be the coolest chick in school when she tells everyone about drunk naked Easters. Sweet!

  • Scarlett

    2006/04/18 at 4:07 am

    Last year, at age 20, a good friend of mine was insistent that it wasn’t Easter if we didn’t dye eggs, because he had apparently done so with his family basically every year of his childhood. So we bought some, boiled them, dyed them…

    And then I ended up sleeping with him, even though he’s eight years younger than me, because he was just so damn cute about the whole thing. Ah, happy Easter!

  • fred

    2006/04/18 at 3:51 am

    thats why we went with the “just add water” egg-dye this year. the scent of feet and vinegar is too much for any parent.

  • LucyArin

    2006/04/18 at 3:57 am

    We dyed eggs every year until we started going to Grandma’s in Florida for Easter. Grandma, who is 78, super catholic and does not understand that the fun for kids with the Easter eggs is in the dyeing, not in the seeing of the finished product. She would dye tons of eggs before we got to Florida (so that she didn’t have the mess to clean up if we did it, smart woman) and then be annoyed every year that we weren’t excited about her colored eggs, and no, we didn’t want to eat them. I still really dislike hard-cooked eggs that have not been turned into deviled eggs. Kudos to you for having the courage to dye eggs with a two year old, I’m shuddering at the mere idea.

  • spilthetea

    2006/04/18 at 3:37 am

    Throughout the past twenty-six years I’ve had the opportunity of sharing the wonderful custom of dyeing eggs with hundreds of ‘children’ in Japan. Every year as Easter grows closer I think that maybe, because of the trouble and mess, I’ll skip the festivities. But then in the days leading up to Easter I find myself running to the store at the last minute buying and boiling dozens and dozens of eggs just so I can see that magical look on the children and adults’ faces as they watch the whiteness of the fresh boiled eggs transformed into brilliant colors. What better celebration of Spring? A time for new beginnings.

  • Natalie

    2006/04/18 at 3:09 am

    If I remember correctly, my brother and I would draw on the eggs, and my mom would be in charge of the dying part. We did it every year, rather enjoyed it too. I should have done something this year. (Of course there are no kids yet, just dogs, and they don’t really care what color it is as long as they can eat it on the couch and make a mess.)

    Plus we were not a religious family in the least, so no holidays had religious meanings. Easter meant the easter bunny and dyed eggs and a cool treasure hunt (which I sucked at). That’s it.

  • Donny

    2006/04/18 at 2:39 am

    There are times when it’s nice to have an ex-wife who is religious. Easter is one of them.

    “Wendy, I realize how important Easter is to you. Caden can spend this holiday with you and your family. Just make sure to have him call me and tell me all about it.”

    THIS scenario keeps me easter-egg-coloring free, yet I still get to hear my beautiful 6 year old’s voice telling me the cute parts of the day.

    Thank you Jesus! 😉

  • BeachMama

    2006/04/18 at 2:29 am

    I was going to dye eggs this year, but the thought of a two and a half year old and lots of dye, just made me sick to my stomach. Congrats on being a good Mom and going through with it. I think it is good to wait for next year when our listening skills are that much more honed and I don’t have to worry about getting a foot in the dye, then walking accross the tile floor.

  • Nia G

    2006/04/18 at 1:57 am

    Ah, Heather, you heathen! Deriding the awesomeness of the second coming and now not teaching your child the mysterious ways of the Lord in which fat man come down chimenys and bunnies lay eggs! There will be a special circle of damnation for you (exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark)

    I remember colouring eggs with my family and that it was fun. Although we put dye in mugs, and then you had to put a boiled egg into it and bathe it with spoonfuls of dye which was fab, although I was slightly more doubtful about eating eggs whose whites were also partially coloured brightly.

    I don’t remember making any mess, but then I do remember that the only way I could be stimulated to learn maths and the alphabet was by grafittiing letters and sums all across my parents’ bedroom walls, so every raising of a child presents with itself its own share of challenges.

  • perkhouse

    2006/04/18 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for the great post! I could totally picture it and that Jon, he’s a smart one…it’s the memories that count. I have two girls, 5 1/2 and 2 1/2 who do their best to remind me of that when I’m losing my mind over the mess. Happy Easter! 🙂

  • tanyetta

    2006/04/18 at 12:13 am

    My friend K really got me into the Easter mood this year. Growing up 7th Day Adv (yikes) we NEVER dyed eggs, we NEVER met the easter bunny or anything. Sooooooooo this year, I thought what the heck, it’s been YEARS since I’ve even thought of hiding eggs, etc….My son had a ball. His first taste of chocolate. Note to myself this will be the first of many years of just having a good time for the sake of the kids and not putting too much thought into why and how of the ‘holiday’. I wasn’t aware of all the hooplah entailed with this ‘holiday’….Sigh.

  • kim from germany

    2006/04/17 at 11:13 pm

    happy belated easter, armstrong-family. jesus seems to have taken a day more to rise in germany because we always have easter-monday off as well 🙂

  • trevordlb

    2006/04/17 at 11:43 pm

    I remember getting real eggs maybe twice as a child… Everything else was all about plastic eggs… I have to say, I hated the real eggs because yolk just didn’t taste as good as jelly beans… Also, I didn’t like the messiness of real eggs… I know; I was a total OCD case in the making…

  • belda

    2006/04/17 at 10:52 pm

    Where’s the picture of the basket of goodies? Did it contain those peeps?

  • angela

    2006/04/17 at 11:06 pm

    Forget drunk, Heather. This is where “smoke a bowl?” is the right course of action.

    And I was serious about Chuck.

  • Bucky Four-Eyes

    2006/04/17 at 10:00 pm

    This year was my maiden voyage at egg dying as well, and I’m an *old* bag.

    Is it wrong that I wrote “Happy Fucking Easter!” on one before I dipped it in dye?

  • 1twopass

    2006/04/17 at 10:35 pm

    um its easter?

  • the unlucky one

    2006/04/17 at 10:22 pm

    Aaargh. The first time I saw the spelling error – in your post – I thought, no, I will not be a smartass and sound like a borderline troll in order to correct this word, I will NOT.

    But it appeared again and again in the comments and now I. can’t. stop. myself.

    Its “dyeing” eggs, not “dying” eggs.

    Apologies for being hypercritical about language. Its an awful habit, and has no cure.

  • dre

    2006/04/17 at 9:57 pm

    Now all you have left to do is to eat fuschia and turquoise egg-salad sandwiches!

    I love the secret M&M talk!!

  • Piglet

    2006/04/17 at 9:28 pm

    I think you’ve found the answer, to dye them naked! We did no dying of the eggs this year, b/c we are evil parents. I made the mistake of telling my four year old son about Easter. So for two weeks, he needed to know how many days, and hours and minutes. After trying to explain measurements of time to him, he would then ask, “is that a long time”?

  • Nessacery

    2006/04/17 at 9:31 pm

    I think I’ll dye eggs drunk & naked next year as well…. does it matter that I don’t have any children?

  • Elizabeth M. Johnson

    2006/04/17 at 9:54 pm

    As a child I looked forward to Easter just for the hard-boiled eggs. I loved to collect all my eggs and sit on the sidewalk eating them while the other kids searched for the plastic, candy-filled variety. And then some evil person told my mom the dye would give me cancer. The holiday was never the same.

  • Joey

    2006/04/17 at 9:24 pm

    Hi, new reader here. I think I’ve found a kindred spirit!

    At 11:30 tonight I was so desperate for my daughter Oliva, 3-1/2, to just go to sleep (she seems to require so much less than I), that I made up this story that Santa keeps a list of all the good little girls who are asleep before midnight. When he’s bringing toys for Christmas, he checks his list will take away one toy for each time she’s still awake at midnight. She sprinted for her bed and I haven’t heard another peep out of her. Daddy says I’m awful. I say, whatever works!

    I also loved your GRANDMOMMY story! Since I started young and ended late, I have kids ranging from 1 to 21 (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I AM on medication as my nerves are shot to hell.) Anyway, my oldest bestowed upon me last year the title of GRANDMOMMY. At first I was really depressed about being pregnant at the same time as my daughter. (Turned myself right into a redneck joke with that little stunt.) But then the babies arrived, and I’ve come to realize how great it is to be the GRANDMOMMY. I have never been so popular and all it takes is cookies! I spoil her rotten, let her have cookies for dinner if that’s what she wants, and then send her home to her parents!

    As for our Easter celebration: I was too lazy to color eggs, and I let the kids eat all their candy in one sitting. No one puked, what a miracle. A lovely dinner of hot dogs and mac-n-cheese made the day complete.

    Keep up the great work, I’m really enjoying the daily read!


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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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