Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • staceymay

    Totally not on topic, but did Scarlett in her comment admit to sleeping with a 12 year old?!

    So that this has some relevance, I got an Easter basket and I didn’t care. Dyeing eggs with a child is only one reason I’m terrified to have kids. I think I’m a bad Mo.

  • oromat

    You color coordinated your eggs?? Wow! Pretty. My poor 3 year old hasn’t had the chance to play with egg dye. Mommy would freak to the point of passing out. She does, however, get full access to crayons, stickers and markers.

  • startledmeercat

    Hows about some large flappy donkey dicks to go with the sweaty goat balls?

    Happy Easter Holidays to y’all, Heather, Jon, Leta & Chuck 🙂

  • Great photos. And hell, we celebrate Passover and Easter with the bunny. And chocolate. Why mess with a good thing by adding in crazy religions? Next year, she’ll know what it means. And maybe she’ll even remember what you guys did.

  • PaulE

    dying eggs while drunk and naked. Sounds like fun to me! Better yet, break out the body paint and paint each other up like Easter eggs. ::evil grin::

  • Amy

    We don’t have kids yet, but from this day forward, drunk and naked is how we will do all the Easters in this house!

  • MommyofOne

    My husband has decorated Easter eggs every year with his grandma since he was born. This year was no exception. Our 3 and 1/2 year old daugther helped us.

    My husband is pretty danged funny, and he enjoys displaying his talent during Easter. He loves to write weird stuff on the eggs with a wax crayon before dying them. We had a few goose eggs with us, and my hubby wrote “Goliath’s Breakfast” on one and dyed it.

    Then he took a chicken egg and wrote “David’s Breakfast” on it and dyed it. Egg dyeing at its finest!

  • When I was young I thought the Easter Bunny was evil and trying to kill me. Why? Because I didn’t know him, which made him a Stranger, and I was always told never to accept candy from Strangers. So, it made no sense that my parents were suddenly hypocrites every year, trying to get me to be thrilled about this Stranger who broke into our house and hid poisoned eggs and candy everywhere.

  • Dooce: Point. 😀

  • Amy

    I had a roommate for 5 years that was obsessed with Easter baskets & dying eggs. I don’t have kids, but was forced through this activity for much too long. Blah! Glad I no longer have to try to hide eggs in fake grass baskets. Good luck with that for the next 30 years 🙂 Maybe it’s more fun with a child?

  • I can’t stop giggling long enough to post anything coherent.

    Why you gotta be callin’ my hair a bitch?

  • I always tell my friends not to even bother dying eggs with your kids until they’re at least 3. I remember the year when my daughter was 2. It was HELL to put it gently.

  • I can’t wait to be a Grandmother. They can do things kids won’t tolerate in thier mothers. I love to make elaborate dyed eggs with a special tool and wax resist technique (kind of like batik). But learning a complex craft is not interesting to kids. They’re all about sticking thier feet in the dye and hearing that satisfying crack of broken shell.
    So if anyone is feeling guilty because thier Easter doesn’t look like the one in the Martha Stewart magazine. Hear this. Kids hate that crap. They want messy, noisy, crazy fun. And they don’t want thier Mom’s eggs to look much better that thier own.
    I do, however, think a Grandma could be adored for making fancy eggs and baking cakes that look like flower gardens. Can’t wait.

  • dooce

    shredbettie:

    get your facts straight. i’ve got your apostrophe right here:

    http://www.mms.com/

  • If we dye eggs naked can we rename the holiday “Keister” Sunday?

  • Hey, we’re in our 40s and continue the eternal quest for finding eggs hidden by the easter basset.

    We hid 300 eggs in our yard on Sunday am and had hunters from 15 months to 78 years hunt. This year we added a master’s division. You can only hunt eggs of one color, next year, we’re adding a size component. It made hunting more fun with the color requirement added, less of a free for all and more of a collaborative effort.

    As for egg dying. It used to be more fun when it wasn’t so commercialized with all those stickers and egg kits. I still love doing it.

    nazila

  • Manda

    My niece is about a month older than Leta. My sister decided I should be the one to help my niece color eggs. My niece was painting the eggs with a little brush when I asked her, “Are you going to eat the eggs?” Meaning, after the large rabbit comes, will you be shelling off the outsides of the oval object and eating its innards? Well my niece didn’t understand this and by saying the words “egg” and “eat” she opened her mouth as wide and she could and tried to eat the egg off the table… without her hands.

  • While I’m shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) that you never colored eggs as a child, now that I too am a parent, I understand why, much for the same reasons as you. I have a perfectionist for a daughter (and gee, couldn’t imagine who she inherited THAT from), so we’re both always freaking out because our eggs didn’t turn out how we thought they would. Doing art projects together…I’d rather eat shards of broken glass.

  • hannahbelle

    heather and john —
    i love dooce and read every day. i know you’ve had an, um, rough experience with organized religion and i’m so sorry about that. i’ve been lucky to have had mostly positive experiences growing up in the episcopal church and would recommend it to you as a really great denomination. priests in the episcopal church are diverse in race, sex, and sexual orientation and the population of the denomination is just as diverse and liberal. i certainly struggle with my own beliefs on a daily basis, but no matter what choices i make or what’s going on in my life, i know i always have a home in my church and i hope everyone else can enjoy that same sense of community. so, if you guys ever decide you might want to check out churches, i would definitely recommend an episcopalian one.

  • Heather, Heather, when oh when are you going to stop abusing the apostrophe? More than one M&M is M&Ms, not M&M’s; the M&M is not possessing anything nor are you contracting “M&M is” (although “M&M is” has a cool rap-shizzle kind of ring to it). Any letter, plural, doesn’t need the apostrophe, just the “s”! (unless it’s possessive and plural, like the Martians’ planet, more than one Martian, who own the planet, see?)

    Enjoying your posts in spite of my anal retentive need to correct grammar. Thanks for sharing, brings back some egg memories. (Or is that, “memory’s”)

  • the other amy

    An Easter egg dyeing tip from way back: don’t waste your money on those crap kits. Just buy a package of food colouring (if you don’t already have some at home) and mix it with a tablespoon or two of vinegar and some boiling water. Great colours, and food safe.

    Heather-thank you for what you do everyday. I truly enjoy the tales of Jon, Leta, Chuck and you, and it makes my day to read some of the funny as hell things I’ve read on here over the years.

  • Raughy

    Sweaty Goat Balls! I didn’t realize that link was something you had to pay for!! Internet fuckers! Here’s a different one

    http://maupi.textamerica.com/?r=3767843

  • Heather-

    Allow me to share with you the most memorable pic I’ve ever taken of the scariest Easter Bunny in the world:

    http://truthasavirtue.wordpress.com/2006/04/17/easter-woes/

    Now I know the reason why I never participated in Easter Egg Hunts or egg dyes as a kid.

  • Ahh, dying Easter eggs. The source of both fun and arguments in my household every year. We went with a substandard dying kit this year made by Dudley rather than Paas, and the dye leaked all over the whites of the eggs. Not a great presentation when you go over the parents-in-law’s for Easter breakfast.

  • smoopiebooboosmom

    Ah the joys of the holidays. I was hovering over mine while they dyed their bazillion eggs. I have new white countertops, imagine my stress…dye + white=disaster.

  • Raughy

    As the queen of deception (a.k.a. big fat liar) in my house, I have yet been unable to admit to my 10 and 8 year old kids that in actual fact(if children are reading, turn away NOW) I am the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, et. al. When they ask me: “Seriously, mum, is the Easter Bunny [tooth fairy, Santa, whatever] REALLY real?”, my response is: “Do you REALLY think I sneak around at night and put [candy in baskets, toys in stockings, money under pillows]? Do you think I am insane?” If they persist, I simply follow with: “I don’t want to talk about it”. I’m sure they haven’t caught on yet. The best take on funky holiday traditions, though, has to be David Sedaris essay: “6 to 8 Black Men”. ENJOY!!

    http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/Esquire/2002/12/01/139613?extID=10026

    We also used to spell things in our house, then we spoke French. Our big mistake? We sent the kids to French school, and now we have to speak piglatin REALLY, REALLY fast, and not repeat ourselves. Itshay!!

  • annewiz

    This reminds me of the chapter in David Sedaris’ book Me Talk Pretty One Day in which he moves to France and ends up trying to explain the relevance of the Easter bunny to the Christian holiday of Easter to his new French friends. He also received blank stares. HILARIOUS

  • SJ

    We didn’t dye eggs with my 2-year old for pretty much all the reasons that have been discussed here already. We did get the plastic eggs with a $3 Easter basket from the local drugstore. Best $3 I’ve spent in ages. She kept the basket in a death grip for most of two days and was endlessly entertained by hunting for barren-of-any-candy eggs in our and her grandparents’ backyards. I just hope everyone she talks to this week understands what she’s saying when she talks about her “egg hunt”, because those words sure don’t sound very ladylike coming out of a toddler’s mouth, if you know what I mean.

  • momma 2 angels

    Ashleigh said it better than I ever could Heather. I think you are quite extaordinary! And a brilliant photographer as well. I’ll have to search for the photo she mentioned, I am somewhat of a newbie. I’m with you about the dye, it’s freaky to tidy-heads.

  • Bird Lover

    Actual conversation the day before Easter –

    Husband: Kayla asked me whether or not the Easter Bunny would bring her a basket tomorrow.
    Me: Crap, I guess I’ll run to Target and see if they have anything left.

    Actual conversation the morning of Easter after Kayla got out of bed to search for her Easter basket –

    Husband: You forgot to put out her basket.
    Me: Crap.

    I ended up telling Kayla that the Easter Bunny hid her basket in case she were to get up at night and look for it. I don’t think she believed me. She’s nine. I am forever branded as “lame” as far as she’s concerned.

  • My son is ten and dyeing eggs is happily an activity he can now do without too much of my help. He also announced that he knows I am the Easter Bunney and will be searching the house for evidence (aka candy bags) ah, isn’t it great to be a parent!! lol

  • JESUS: Take this bread, it is my body. Take this wine, it is my blood. Now these colored eggs, if you use your imagination, are like my internal organs. And take this chocolate, it’s my poo – can you say ‘poo’ in the bible?
    MATTHEWMARKLUKE&JOHN: No, let’s take that again and, this time,leave out the eggs and chocolate.
    SCRIBE: Rolling!

  • CJ

    We’re atheists/humanists so we dye eggs for the spring equinox and when Easter rolls around we avoid it and pretend it isn’t happening. We have managed to have patient talks with the rest of the family for long enough that we don’t get Easter baskets (we race out to get half-priced chocolate the next day of course).

    When people ask how my Easter went I mention that we don’t celebrate it. Just like with Christmas, they tend to ask, but your kids got to do an egg hunt, right? Um, yeah, like that’s the point of a major Christian holiday. Some years yes, some years no, but we always explain the large number of fertility symbols and how they all relate to spring (loved the photos of the flowers!). I tend to point out that we also don’t celebrate the major Sikh holiday around this time or Persian New Year, or Passover. Just to make the point that lots of religions like the spring. We have our own celebrations for the equinoxes/solstices because I don’t want my kid to envy that other people have parties. Definitely start your own traditions. Probably ones that do not include dyes…

    I loved your story and could totally see the scene. I send dh the bit about spelling out m&m’s. Very funny!!

  • literatigirl

    Very funny. I always hated dyeing Easter eggs. It was tedious. Not to mention the never-ending egg sandwiches for school lunches afterward.

    I think it’s Okay to have a sense of humor about secular holiday traditions- Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. But it annoys me when people (not Dooce) seem to be conflating the Holiday itself with the secular trappings of that holiday, i.e., poking fun at the holiday by poking fun at the trappings. And the bringing of easter eggs is not “random,” they symbolize rebirth (as I’m sure I don’t have to tell 99% of the people on here).

    I think it’s an important distinction.

  • Flambo

    Good lord, is there no way to edit a post without having it appear twice? SORRY!!!

  • Flambo

    I’m TOTALLY not being sarcastic at all when I say that I love that the punch line for your last two posts involves your some form of inebriation. Seriously!

    Happy Tuesday-after-Easter!

  • Flambo

    I’m TOTALLY not being sarcastic at all when I say that I love that the punch line for your last two posts mentions some form of inebriation. Seriously!

    (Wait, is “inebriation” even a word?)

    Happy Tuesday-after-Easter!

  • Paint, dye, and markers do not mix well with children. Hehehe.

  • ashleigh

    First off, I just want to say that I totally don’t understand these people who leave hateful comments. Especially the one’s who are telling you that your site has gone down the tubes, that it’s complete and utter crap etc. This is your blog. I repeat yours! You can do whatever you damn well please with it. I feel honored that you are allowing me to be entertained by your life on a daily basis. If they don’t like what you’re doing, then they don’t have to read it, or better yet, they should embark on their own blog expedition and see if they can do any better. Keep up the great work, and I totally understand if you have an off day here and there 🙂

    On another note, I’ve been reading your blog for about the past year or so. May I just say that I love you like a sister, and the rest of your family too (wow, that was very Wicked Witch of the West-ish without all the meanness). Anyway, reading your blogs and hearing about your life and your struggle with depression changed my life. I grew up in a very small town, so I often felt as if I was the only person that felt certain things, but reading your blogs made me realize that there was someone else out there who “got it” like I did. Anyway, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for opening up your life to the internet. I am always assured at least a giggle from your entries, and most of your pictures are astounding (my favorite is the one where Jon is leaning up to kiss Leta and she is ducking her head in an oh-so-bashful, beautiful pose…it conveys real love and beauty to me). Your monthly entries to Leta always bring me to tears and remind me of the relationship that my mother and I have. I’m sure you already know this, but she will always cherish those entries.

    Thanks again!

  • My oldest child learned how to spell ice cream before she was one. We tried spelling it fast but she knew that when she heard us mumble i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m as fast as we could that she was getting that cold stuff that made her hyper.

    We call M&M’s E-M-esses E-M-esses.

  • crzylady

    You are one hell of a brave woman for dyeing eggs with a 2 year old. Possibly insane…

    We don’t celebrate Easter at our house. Or at least we never did until my parents got married to other families and now those families celebrate and we (the kids who rarely had the pleasure of being offered an egg to dye) are invited to watch them make loving efforts with their new families.

    Oh the joys. Surprisingly enough.. my 4 month old didn’t get any thing for Easter from any one, certainly not me. Having a degree in religion will ensure she’ll know the reasons for Easter and will probably find it as ridiculous as I do the whole “spring/ressurection” joining (pretty much stolen from Judaism’s Passover anyway).

    So unless you enjoy it.. Don’t do it. Leta’s smart enough to realize one day soon which ones are crap activities. Start your own tradition… the drunk and naked one sounds like a good one 🙂

  • grad03

    I’m a little surprised at how many posters feel the need to make fun of anyone who does take the religious aspects of the holiday seriously. People who choose secular celebrations, yay them, I don’t feel the need to insult them about it. But it is possible (shocking!) to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and still have enough of a sense of humor to think drunk naked egg-dyeing sounds awesome.

    Thanks for the egg-dyeing tales and I repeat the call for a photo of green-footed Leta if you’ve got one to share.

  • Sunni

    I remember dying eggs as a kid, it was an entire night’s entertainment. My mother would hard boil the eggs, we’d wait anxiously and cry when some of them cracked. My dad would drive to the nearest Wawa (which in Pennsylvania is like a 7-11 but with better quality hoagies (which are subs) and they are usually cleaner too.) for another 2 dozen, just in case.

    Anyway, now that I am a mother, I looked forward to this tradition with my now 3 and a half year old. However, I thought I was being smart and hard boiled the eggs in advance so I had the perfect two dozen. Enough for a few hours of entertainment right?

    I had the crayons set out, etc. Ready to go.

    Well, since the eggs were cold, the crayon wouldn’t work so I had to soak the eggs in warm water. None cracked though, phew.

    Ready to go, again. My lovely child proceeded to color and dye two dozen eggs in 8 minutes! I seriously think this child set a record. It took me longer to get the blue and purple dye off of her hand (Avon skin so soft worked wonders, please thank your mother. She may like to use this in her marketing campaign.)

    All in all, it was fun. OH, and I used a dollar store tablecloth for the table and the floor and my daughter was topless for the 8 minutes. SO, my pictures of dying eggs are pretty white trash.

    Parenthood is the best.

  • I have no children but i still dyed eggs. i did refrain from hiding them and making my husband look for them, however. Next year, I’m going to try dying them drunk and naked. Sounds like a good time to me!

  • Hey, don’t knock the naked aspect. That’s what we did.

    And I’m sure we would have had a MUCH better time if we were drunk too.

  • Lori

    My dh and I are atheists, but we send our child to a Presbyterian preschool. Last Easter he said, “Jesus shot up to heaven really fast–like Superman.” This year he said some really sweet things about Jesus. Poor child, he will soon become a heathen like the rest of the family when he attends public school this year.

    I don’t make a big deal about the Easter Bunny, he’s not in the same league as Santa Claus. 🙂

  • Lazy? At least you DYED the eggs. I ended up buying farm eggs made by red-, green- and blue-earlobed chickens just so I wouldn’t have to deal with a two-year-old mess maker. She did help boil them though. Her favorite part was putting the “AYES” in ice water after they were “burled.” Of course, then she smashed a bunch of them to smithereens.

  • lizneust

    You are BRAVE, woman! I’m not a particularly neat mommy, but the idea of the 28-month old and colored dye gives me instant migrane. Instead, we hid some plastic eggs (toys – no candy) in the dining room – the only room that hasn’t been subsumed by Dora the Explorer, crayons and blocks. She had a blast and carted around her “eeser ugs” all day. Too cute. You need to post a Green Foot pic!

  • C W

    I don’t think I want to know what is getting dipped in colorful dyes next year.

  • The IDEA of easter egg dying is so much better than the actual act. I am always excited to do it and then I feel like Evil Mom when the dye is spilling on the table and eggs are cracking and little hands are tie dyed and I’m making growling noises…still, I do it every.single.year.