Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday was not good.  In fact, it was so not-good that I deliberately waited until today to post about it, just so that there was a little space (and perspective) between it and me.  No, there was nothing horrendous or tragic.  It was just a long string of frustrations pieced together throughout the day.  (And in the cold light of morning some most of them look rather petty.  Oh well.  I'm blogging about them anyway.  This is about learning to find joy in everything!)

It started bright and early at 5:55 a.m. with a little girl who decided that sun was shining and she should get up.  (And this was despite a somewhat-later-than-normal bedtime, which meant that she did NOT have enough sleep.)  We went through our normal morning routine, got breakfast, and turned on some cartoons (she's currently enamored of a British kids' TV show called "Kipper").  I went to the computer to eat my breakfast while checking email, facebook, etc.

And I heard a loud CRASH, with tinkling wind chimes on the end of it.  Judith had (finally) pulled the living room drapes down on top of herself.  No worries!  She was not hurt in any way.  She was hiding under a couch pillow when I got to the living room, so she'd obviously scared herself.  I'm really hoping this means that she actually might stop pulling on the curtains now.  At any rate, I woke Lance up to help me clean up the mess (yes, he slept through the huge crash and the subsequent commotion), got dressed, and took Judith to do the weekly grocery shopping.  She was perhaps, cowed enough from the curtain incident to be pretty well-behaved for all our errands.

At the farmer's market I went straight to the herb stand because I'd seen this wonderful indoor herb garden idea and was very excited to try it.  In talking to the herb lady, I mentioned that I was going to be growing them indoors, and she looked at me like I was incredibly stupid and said "good luck with that."  I explained that I hadn't been able to get herbs to grow at all outside, and I thought inside would be the way to go...long story short, she convinced me that and indoor herb garden wouldn't work.  And just like that, all my lovely plans for the indoor herb display were gone.  (Anyone have a half-wine barrel they want to get rid of?  I'm going to try some outdoors.)

When we got home, I went out into the yard to do some watering and a few other odds and ends.  And discovered that, in spite of warnings and injunctions and explanations about growing things, a little girl had been hoeing in my brand-new lettuce patch!  Half of the tiny, just-peeking-up seedlings were ripped up.  I cried. (OK, I also yelled and screamed some.)  And Lance talked Judith into coming to apologize.  And assessed the damage and replanted, and hope that new seedlings will grow.  (And I took away Judith's hoe.)

Back inside about ten minutes later to discover that Judith had wet her pants again.  This week she's been SO up and down potty-wise.  One day she'll have dry pants all day, and the next she'll have five accidents.  And she's once again stopped telling me if she has an accident, and her rash is getting nasty again.

The rest of the day was major-incident free.  I even got to take a short nap.  But my attitude was horrible.  In hindsight, I should have shut myself in my room for awhile just to reset my heart.  But I kept going through task after task (checking off things on the to do list!), and getting more and more tired and frustrated with the day. 

The Joy
Oh man, really?  Is there joy here?  There's joy that yesterday is over! :-)  I persevered - not really - I was so not who I want to be yesterday.  I said things I regret.  My priorities were all screwed up.  But I can recognize that and move on.  That's progress, right?

joy to you

Sunday, February 19, 2012

By hook, cook, and laboratory!

(because I didn't want to write two blogs - and I don't have pictures - my two DIY experiments are included here today :-)

Purple Cauliflower (cook)
See this gorgeous thing that I found at the Farmers' Market?

I'd already been planning to get cauliflower because I was assigned to bring the side dish to our Sunday night small group meeting, and I wanted to re-make this dish (from Pinterest, of course!).  I just couldn't pass up the glory of the purple one!  Here's how it turned out:
all chopped up, tossed, and ready to roast 
It looks a lot like I was letting Judith paint vegetables.  :-)  I really expected that (like with the purple bush beans that I grow) the color would leach out of the cauliflower during cooking.  I even saved some out to take along to group to prove that it had really been purple.  Instead the opposite happened!  Lance compared it to blanching broccoli - which enhances the color.  The roasted cauliflower was a deep, dark purple.  The picture below really doesn't do it justice, but it was the best I could get.
After cooking

And it tasted good too!  (Notice the small amount left above - and that was only saved se I could take the picture.)

Most people assumed I'd done something to make it purple, but it really just grows that way.  Wikipedia says:  Purple color in cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'.  I'm almost tempted to try to grow some, but I'm afraid mine would be full of aphids.

Bunny Slippers (hook)
shhhh...I made these for a friend.  She had posted a picture of some made for children, and waxed so eloquent about them that I thought, why not?  I searched around for a pattern, but couldn't find one, but I found this one that was pretty close, and I modified it to fit her feet instead of a baby's.  Then I experimented with eyes and the tail.  I think they turned out pretty well, but we'll see what she thinks!
DIY Dishwasher Detergent (lab)
We came to the end of our dishwasher detergent supply this week, and I decided to experiment with making my own.  (Pinterest, how you inspire me!)  So I found this recipe, and got the ingredients (Borax, Washing Soda, and Lemi-Shine).  The first two I could easily find at Winco, the local discount grocery store, but I spent a good two hours driving around trying to find the Lemi-Shine.  When I had checked online, it said the local Walmarts had it in stock, but I couldn't find it at the first one.  And since I was at other stores I asked around, but everyone kept referring me to orange cleaners.  When we finally found it (at a different Walmart), Judith said "Mama, is that the Lemi-Shine?" and proudly carried it up to the checker.  And she pointed it out to Daddy later in the day.  

Anyway, I combined the ingredients as instructed, put the result in a container, and have been quite happy with the washing power of my new detergent.  It is the first time I've used a powdered detergent, so that feels a little strange, but the dishes are certainly getting clean.  That's the main thing.  And it's all natural, and pretty cheap to make.

DIY Liquid Soap (lab)
I was in a DIY mode after the detergent, and noticed this recipe on Pinterest.  I'd just noticed that our three liquid soap dispensers were running low, and was planning to purchase a big refill bottle next week.  For a couple years now I've been buying the gigantic refill bottle and re-filling the small pumps by each sink.  This saves a lot of money over buying new small bottles, but using this DIY recipe, I can control the ingredients, and save even more money!  So when Daddy came home from work on Saturday afternoon, the three of us took a walk to the local CVS (for Glycerin) and to the 99 cent store (for a bar of soap - we got Yardley's English Lavendar).  Then I got out the cheese grater and experimented.  Basically, you melt the soap in the water, add some glycerin, and let it cool.  As a lot of people noted in the comments to the recipe, it looked like skim milk when the melting part was done.  Fortunately, I'd read through all the comments, and I knew that it needed time to gel.  However, I wasn't entirely sure of my success yet, so I didn't start pouring it into bottles or anything, just let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours.  Oh how I wish I'd trusted it!  By about three hours later it had congealed to the consistency of egg white (less charitable comments said "snot"), and like egg white it wanted to stick together!  Getting the soap from the big pot to small bottles (through a small funnel) was not easy!  (I kept thinking how much easier it would have been to pour the "skim milk" in.)  But I persevered!  And used lots of paper towel.  Now I have three full bottles of hand soap that's nearly the same consistency as what I buy (it gelled further overnight), as well as 3 pints of soap to store!  (Anyone need some?)  It smells very nice - not-too-strongly lavender, and it definitely cleans hands.  The only thing that's a little strange about it is the relative lack of suds.  But I learned (again from the comments, as well as from a discussion with Lance, who used to work in his aunt's health food store) that suds are typically caused by things (like Sodium Laurel Sulfate) that are added to the soap by manufacturers, and really aren't necessary for cleaning anyway.  I'm so excited with the success of this experiment!  For about $1.50 (the glycerin cost like $6, but I only used 1T) I made enough liquid soap to last us for a year!

Next experiment:  bubble bath!

The joy
As I know I've said before, I was created to create.  I really enjoy making things.  I take great joy in finding ways to be "greener" and save money at the same time.   And that purple cauliflower?  Oh. Wow.  What beautiful variety God created for us!  

Joy to you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

First Day of (Pre) School!

This blog is a little late - I've been busy working on other things :-)

On Monday, Judith started preschool!  It's just an in-home, co-op preschool that we're doing with three other families, but it was still a momentous occasion.  We'll be rotating from house to house and taking turns teaching (my first turn to teach will be on the 27th), and for this first time went to a new house.  I was a little concerned that Judith might be timid in a new place, and with a teacher that she didn't know, but she sure wasn't!  She had such a great time playing with the other kids and participating in story time and doing her craft...I think she'd have been fine if I'd left after the first few minutes.  (I stayed, though, because I don't think my degree in secondary education was much preparation for teaching four three-year-olds, and I wanted to observe.) 
backpack on - ready to go!
circle time

The Joy did my baby get old enough for school?  There is bittersweet joy in watching her grow, especially when she is so independent.  I want her to be independent, but I still miss her dependency.

Joy to You!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crafty Crafty

Sunday afternoon Judith and I worked on two Valentine's Day crafts.  I'm waiting until now to write this post for obvious reasons :-).

Valentine Cards
These were, I think, inspired by something I found on Pinterest, but I can't find it now.  Each card uses a heart (in red) and two long strips of paper (in white), and two hands (in pink).  The hearts and the paper strips were easy, because I decided that I would do them without involving Judith.  Since the strips need to be accordion folded, I folded one large piece of paper, and then cut squares of the resulting "accordion".  I printed "A Valentine's Hug For You" and "I love you this much!" on the strips.  Then I needed to trace Judith's hands.  She was fine for the first four tracings, but after that we had to take a break...and so on until I got all the hands I needed :-).  I traced first in pencil, and then outlined in black sharpie.  Judith got to decorate with crayon and stickers, and then I taped the hands to the "arms" and the "arms" to the heart.  Voila!  A Valentine Card! 

Birdseed hearts
These are definitely a Pinterest find.  Judith's favorite part of making these was stirring...and stirring and stirring.  (That wasn't really called for in the directions, but she wanted to.)  She also got to help me make the hole with the dowel.  Overall they were a very easy craft, if messy.  If/when I make them again (maybe some flower shapes for spring?) I'll do them outside.

making the hole
finished product - on a "branch"

The Joy
Judith is growing up!  She's learning such independence, and usually can do more than I expect.  And, as I've said before, these were all gifts.  How can there not be joy in giving gifts?

Joy to You,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

More from the hook and cook

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this has been a busy week for me.  Here’s what I’ve created this week:

Crochet Flowers
I’ve been working on these for about a week (I’d been thinking about them ever since I saw them on Pinterest.)  You can check the pattern out here – basically you crochet flower, stem, and leaves, then sew them all together and run floral wire through the stem to make them stiff.  The floral wire was by far the hardest part for me – and I’m still not entirely happy with it, because it keeps sliding out the ends of the stem.  Individually, I think they look pretty cute, but they make me very happy all bunched together in a vase like this.  These are all for gifts, but I think I might make myself a bunch just to have around.  I’ve never been a fan of fake flora, but these are so far from looking real that they don’t disappoint me the way ordinary faux flowers do.

Happy flowers!

My favorite one - and all because I didn't have enough of any purple to finish a whole flower.
Valentine’s Heart Boxes
I made 19 of these!  They’re a dark (or milk) chocolate box filled with dark (or milk) chocolate truffle hearts.  I didn’t track how many hours I worked on these, although it probably would have been good to know, just so I could figure out my hourly wage from them.  I started on Wednesday, experimenting with different methods of filling the boxes so that they were hollow but stable.  And that took some doing.  I finally settled on pouring several tablespoons of chocolate in the box, then slowly tipping the mold around in a circle several times so that it coated the sides thickly enough that they’d hold up.  Even so I broke a good third of them, and had to melt them down and start again. 
They're very cute - but looking at the picture closely you can see how very fragile they are!
Spicy Chocolate Wafer Hearts
These are for Lance.  He likes these wafer cookies (from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet) with cinnamon and a little cayenne pepper thrown in.  Since these are a slice-and-bake cookie, I experimented a little with the heart shape.  At first I tried cutting them with a dowel underneath the “log” of cookie dough, thinking that might give me the indentation at the top of the heart – instead it just meant I had a hard time cutting all the way through the log!  So I pretty much just cut circles and then shaped them by hand.

Window Sandwich Cookies
These are becoming a Valentine’s Day tradition for me – and I love the way they turn out, both aesthetically and visually.  Basically, it’s two sugar cookies (I use the basic sugar cookie recipe from Southern Livings’s Incredible Cookies) filled with chocolate buttercream.  I just cut a “window” out of the top cookie as I’m cutting them out – like you do with linzer cookies.  This year there were no mishaps with little fingers stealing buttercream out of the window!

Butternut Squash Ravoli
On Saturday night we had guests for dinner (fulfilling that goal of hospitality!), and I invited them to come early so that we could cook together.  First, we made half-whole-wheat pasta, rolling it out with the pasta attachment to my KitchenAid.  Then we placed small dots of butternut squash filling (I pureed baked butternut squash with ricotta cheese, walnuts, and some Italian seasoning) on one sheet of pasta, wet the dough all around the filling, and topped it with another pasta sheet.  Then we used a heart cookie cutter to cut out the ravioli.  I have to say that using that cookie cutter is a fun idea, but wastes an awful lot of dough!  It’s definitely a special-occasion method.  Because these use fresh pasta, they only take like 2 minutes (max!) to cook.  I also experimented with a tomato-ricotta-mushroom sauce.  The combination was great, even though both “recipes” were untried.  And the best part?  Judith ate three whole ravioli! It's the first time she's asked for more of something we were "forcing" her to try.
Aren't they cute?

Bittersweet Chocolate Cheesecake with White Truffle Sauce
Of course when there’s company I get to make a fancy dessert!  This one is extra rich, which was a good complement to our not-too-heavy dinner.  The recipe (from Betty Crocker’s Everything Chocolate) doesn’t call for a crust, but I made one anyway.  I should have left it out – I’m not entirely sure what I did, but the crust baked so hard that we couldn’t cut it with a fork, and had to pick it up like a cookie.  It still tasted good though!

Sunday Morning Apple Coffee Cake
I found this recipe here, while I was searching last night for a coffee cake recipe for our community breakfast at church this morning.  Instead of using 5 apples, I used two apples, with a cup of chopped pecans and a cup of dried cranberries.  Since the recipe uses baking powder, and I know that baking powder batters can sit for a long time, I put everything together last night, and just baked it this morning in time for church.  It took much less time than the recipe calls for (20 minutes less!), and I’m not sure whether that’s because it had been sitting for so long or if there’s another reason.  It was good, though – not too sweet, but still satisfying.  I’ll likely make it again.  (Sorry.  No picture.:-)

The Joy
My heart is fed when I bake - and even more so when I do so with a friend.  And most of these are gifts - I love to give gifts!  There was joy aplenty for me, in spite of the stress of busy-ness.

Joy to you!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

I realized today that it’s been almost a week since I blogged anything.  (And thought, “if I’m trying to stick to my goal of blogging once a week, I’d better get on it!”)   This week’s been super busy (aren’t most weeks for most people?), and blogging just moved to the back burner as I fit everything in.  Here’s an overview of what’s been going on.  (Sorry, no pictures - I've only been taking pictures of my artistic endeavors lately, and you'll have to wait 'til tomorrow's blog for those!)

Valentine’s Heart Boxes
On a whim, I posted a picture on facebook of some edible chocolate heart boxes that I’d made last fall.  When I immediately got three orders, I decided to post the same picture as a flyer in my Curves and see what happened.  I ended up with nineteen orders!  Wonderful.  Amazing.  Help!  I’ve been working non-stop for several days, molding and filling the truffle hearts and the boxes.  But I’m done now!  (Breathe)  And I can get started on all the other Valentine’s gifts that I had intended to do this week.
On Monday I had a cleaning at my new dentist.  And on the dentist’s receptionist’s recommendation, I had Lance bring Judith along to my appointment so that she can start being comfortable in the office.  She got to brush a dinosaur’s teeth, and she got to watch the hygienist clean my teeth.  And then she got a sticker at the end (I didn’t get a fair!).  The hygienist also looked at her teeth (again – no fair!  She never lets me look in there.) and pronounced them beautiful – so I’m not too worried about getting her in to actually seethe dentist for a while.  On the whole, a good first experience.
Co-op Preschool
Also on Monday (in fact, we went straight there from the dentist) I attended a planning meeting with three other moms for a co-op preschool that we’ll be starting.  Four kids, four moms – rotating houses and rotating teaching responsibilities.  We start this Monday (Judith’s going to school (sort of) in two days!) at another mom’s house.  I get to observe for the first two weeks and then dive in to “teaching.”   I am excited to see how Judith does in “class”, really interacting with other kids and having to listen to a teacher for a while.  She’s done that at MOPS, but it’s not something I’ve observed.  Look for an update next week about how the first day went!
On Wednesday we ran some errands, and ended at Raley’s, one of our local grocery stores.  When we walked in, the kids’ center caught Judith’s attention.  I’ve  always known that Raley’s had a kids center (you can drop your kids off for free and they’re entertained while you shop!), but it never occurred to me to use it.  Raley’s is a little out of my price range, and I’m usually only running in for one specialty item.  That was the case on Wednesday too, but  Judith was so taken with the coloring and movie-watching going on in the kids’ center that I let her stay.  (AAAAH...she’s growing up. and independent. And she doesn’t need me all the time anymore!)  It was, admittedly, very nice to walk leisurely through the store to find my stuff without Judith in tow.  And she had a great time and didn’t want to leave with me.  I guess we’ll have to try it again some time!
I hosted a Tupperware party on Thursday night (I was not anticipating all those chocolate box orders when I scheduled the party!).  And we let Judith stay up for it.  It didn’t start until her bedtime, but the Tupperware consultant was there before bedtime, and we didn’t think Judith would be able to fall asleep if she heard strange voices in the house anyway.  So we just planned for her to be up (way too) late.  She had a blast.  She flirted with each person who came, she tried constantly to get the Tupperware lady to give her things, and she ate lots of snacks.  The rest of us had fun too – and I even got free stuff.
Shaun the Sheep
Judith is still very taken with Shaun, and likes to pretend that she’s Shaun, while I’m the mommy sheep and Daddy’s the daddy sheep.  And then she talks in nothing but “baaa”.  Yes, it’s highly imaginative, and I don’t want to stifle my child’s creativity, but it’s also highly annoying!  I’ve tried to explain that I really can’t understand anything she says in baaa, but that doesn’t help.  She just gets more emphatic. I guess she understands herself?
Vegetable Garden Already?
Our wonderful (unseasonal) weather has meant that I've been able to get out in the yard!  (Although, again, if I'd anticipated all the chocolate boxes, I'd have spent less time out there.)  I've divided and replanted my irises, and I also planted some vegetables!  In February!    On Monday I planted some lettuce, carrots, and beets from seed (hoping they might actually grow in my wonderful dirt), and am breathlessly anticipating their appearance. 
Two Updates:
Potty Training
I’m a little leery of writing this, given what usually happens when I share any positive potty training news.  Judith seems to actually be getting it.  She still has accidents, and she still has times when she’s gyrating like crazy in the potty dance and refusing to admit that she has to go.  But she’s also be initiating trips to the bathroom on her own (including #2), and she’s very proud of herself when she does so.  I think there might be light at the end of this tunnel!
I got sooo many responses to my blog about eating, and I’ve assimilated some of the ideas into our routine.  I’ve been insisting that Judith at least try a little of whatever we’re eating (if it’s not something she already eats, of course) before she gets her own dinner.  Most of the time she takes a long time to try whatever it is, and then will try to eat as little as we’ll let her get away with.  Once in a while she’s actually liked whatever it was and even eaten more!  She does have to try everything every time we eat it, even if she didn’t like it the last time.  I figure we’re at least exposing her to new/more foods and eventually the list of what she eats will grow. 

The Joy
While I wouldn’t really classify this week as a trial, it has been extremely busy and I’ve had times when I wondered if I’d make it through to the weekend without having a meltdown.  I can joyfully say that I was at least consistent with having my quiet time (not always at the same time every day), and that provided some calm to look forward to each day.  And in writing this blog, I find joy in Judith’s progress and growth.  We persevered!

Joy to you!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

By hook and by cook

Here's my weekly (well, it's the first one, but I intend for it to be weekly) update on what I've baked/cooked in the past week, and what I've crocheted.  Where applicable, I'll include links to patterns and recipes, but I'm not going to type out anything that's not already online somewhere (unless specifically requested!).

In the Kitchen this week:
(see Monday's post)
Brownie Cookies
Also known as "deep dark decadence".  They're dark chocolate "brownie" batter, with dark chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.  Needless to say, they're a family favorite.  The recipe's from the Williams Sonoma Cookies book, so I'm not going to list it here. 
Brownie cookies - fresh out of the oven

 "Valentine's Day" meal

We celebrate V-day early, and ate at home to save money.  As shown below, my husband got pan-seared ahi while I had an oven-roasted portabello.  On the side we had apple, walnut, gorgonzola salad with maple-balsamic dressing that I found a recipe for at this blog.  For dessert we had chocolate mousse cups, which I didn't take a picture of because they weren't beautiful.  They were an experiment based on a triple-layer cheesecake that I make - I made a normal chocolate mousse mix, scooped 1/3 of it into the bottom of two dishes, and added increasing amounts of (extra) whipped cream to layers 2 and 3.  They were tasty, but a little grainy...and I didn't add enough cream to layer 2, so there was very little difference from layer 1.  Next time I think I'll just try this recipe that I found on Pinterest.
Valentine's Day dinner

Not much else was cooking last week, but I'm gearing up for Valentine's Day!  This coming week should be busier.

Crochet Projects
Chemo Caps
Two of my friends from church are going through chemo right now, and when I saw this pattern on Pinterest, I was immediately inspired to make them.  The first one (pictured below, stunningly modeled by my daughter) took me much longer than it should have because it took me about five tries to get the band around the hat to be the right size.  When I followed the directions as printed, it kept fanning out exponentially and just wouldn't fit.  I finally followed some directions I found (Pinterest again!) for making a foundation row without using a chain, and then crochet the rest of the band in a smaller hook size.  I made the second hat in red, and it went much more quickly.
chemo cap

Lance's Scarf
Isn't it beautiful?
At Christmas time, when I was making a number of scarves for presents, it occurred to me that my husband might like one!  So I asked - and he said he'd wear one if it wasn't "too phoofy".  So I searched through my pattern books, and through the yarn at the craft store to find some combination that would be both impressive and non-phoofy.  Here's the result.  And I must say (bragging!) that I love it...the pattern (basketweave stitch) and the yarn.  And Lance's does too.  He's actually worn it every day since I gave it to him. 

There was drama though, because I was (proud) enough to want to take a picture to post on Pinterest - and then I somehow forgot to put it away before he came home...and he saw it, and came out the next morning wearing it.  When I burst into tears (it was supposed to be a surprise! and I'd been so careful - I thought - about keeping it hidden), Judith said (in a conciliatory tone) "Daddy, you can't have this now." and took it and "hid" it in her room.  (She and I wrapped it and gave it to him before our Valentine's celebration.)

I'm also continuing to work on my afghan, as well as some secret gift projects that might show up here next week.

The Joy - do I even need to write this?  I love to be in the kitchen, especially when chocolate is involved.  And crochet gives me almost as much joy, especially once the project is done and I can give it to someone and see their joy.  And I took joy, too, in my little girl's efforts at playing peacemaker, even when her mama was irrational.

Joy to you!

Friday, February 3, 2012


It's been a few days since I blogged, mostly because nothing momentous has been happening.  So today I'm writing about the simple, "normal" things we did.  There's joy in the small things too.

Judith's been all over the map (the map of the universe!) in her playing lately.  It's fun to watch.  Some highlights:
  • She's begun to narrate her life in the third person.  For example, she won't say, "I'm going to get out of the car."  She'll say, "And then she said, 'Mama, I'm going to get out of the car.' and her Mama said to her, 'OK, precious.'"  (At which point I am required to say whatever she just narrated me as saying!)  We think this might stem from her recent introduction to the old Rock and Bullwinkle cartoons, which are narrated in classic narrator style.  Wherever it came from, it's quite entertaining, and at least gives us a good idea of what her "preferred reality" is for the moment.
  • She's been enjoying the chalk board side of her easel because she can erase the chalk herself.  But instead limiting herself to an eraser, she's discovered that she can erase the chalk with her hands.  The first day she did this, she also experimented with "stamping" chalk handprints all over the furniture!  She was very proud of herself, but I'm afraid I had to veto her re-decorating ideas.  We've since established the guideline that handprints may be stamped only on paper.
chalky hands
  • I love that she incorporates the shows that she watches into her own play.  Today, as I worked outside in the yard, she was running around playing "Shaun the Sheep".  She ran in circles "baaing" frequently, and was picking grass for "Shirley" (another sheep from the show).  Now, I know that it's entirely possible that she'd play at being some animal or other even if she hadn't seen some on TV, but the specific things that she remembers and incorporates amaze me.  There's one episode where Shirley (who's the biggest sheep) is put on a diet.  And so Judith was instructing Shirley that she had to wait until all the grass was picked, and that she could only eat what Judith (Shaun) gave her.  Given that there's no talking in the show, I was pretty impressed how she put the action in her own words.  (Yes, I'm biased - but her imagination continues to astound me.)  As a fun side note, she was also noticing that the grass was growing back in places where we'd weeded it out before.  "Mama!  I keep picking and picking, but there's always more grass growing!"  (Umm, yes.  Grass tends to do that.)
I spent a good two hours working some of that lovely dirt into more of my garden.  I'm deciding to go all out this year, given that I've got an abundance of extraordinary soil to work with this year.  So I'm not limiting myself to the four raised beds, or even to the beds and the bottom of the terrace this year.  I ripped out an old (huge!) lavender plant, and now have a much larger space to work with (although tilling the soil is pretty back-breaking!).  I'm dreaming of lettuce (if I can keep the slugs away!), beets (I try them every year and they've only made it once), carrots (another favorite from the garden that I just can't get to grow!), and even potatoes!  That's in addition to the tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, and zucchini that I grow every year.  It's easy to dream now; it's even easy to actually plant all these things.  The difficulty will come when the weather turns hot, and I've got to keep everything alive!

the Joy:  As I said above, there's joy in the small stuff too.  There's joy in just spending time with my daughter, watching her grow, and observing her imagination at work.  There's joy in ripping out weeds and anticipating seeds sprouting and producing fruit (or veggies!).

Joy to you!