Pigtails and Worn-Out Blue Jeans

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Pigtails and Worn-Out Blue Jeans

Little moments like this...

 Oh, to watch little minds work!  The imagination, the detail, the energy the put into their play!
The best neutral ground, I’ve found is OUTSIDE.  Our rule is “Inside toys stay inside,”  so any possessive tendencies to any one toy is left at the threshold to the playground that is our backyard.  It’s only  fixtures are a molded plastic Fisher-Price toddler playhouse that they’re really getting to big for, a metal swing set, and thanks to Santa, a battery-powered Jeep.  But, as Dr.Seuss says, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
The kids are old enough now that I can let them do their own thing without being right on top of them.  I’ll be pulling weeds, and hear all their plans to “get the bad guys” with their stick swords, stir up some dirt cupcakes with–well–DIRT, or ‘fly’ across the backyard as the latest super hero that’s caught their attention (We’re into Voltron right now.)
I sit back and watch as their plans  become adventures.
 I struggled for a long time trying to ‘fill the time’ with projects, games, and things to do to keep them busy, that I forgot about just letting them be kids!  It’s not a bad thing, but they don’t always need to have a crayon in their hand or paint on their fingers, or icing in their hair to constitute an afternoon well spent! Heck, let them run around and play!
Even days when they’d rather stay inside, there’s something magical about fresh air.  In seconds, they’re sailing the high seas on a pirate ship–aka the play house.  (I’ve been rescued from backyard sharks countless times by these good- samaritan-pirates.)
 And, I always love to find unsolicited garden excavation–I had several ‘suprise’ sunflower sproutings last summer.  You just have to laugh at the care they took to dig out your already-planted-painstakingly-weeded flower bed to redesign their own.  Those sunflowers were the prettiest part of my garden, by the way!
Anyway, I say all that to say that I love my kids.  I love watching them imagine.  I love seeing them wrap their minds around an idea, then trying it out. I love how it challenges me to do the same.  I love letting them be kids.

I'm surprised that these don't have real holes in them!

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Cabin Fever: The Quest for Spring

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Cabin Fever:  The Quest for Spring

I know it’s only mid-February, but, man, I’m really, REALLY ready for Spring.  It would be one thing if we were having a cold, brisk, Winter-Wonderland-of-a-season, but in keeping with good ol’ Louisiana tradition, its rainy, gloomy, and altogether miserable.  Everything’s brown and blah outside–the grass, the trees– makes us all want to hibernate.  Maybe those bears know best, huh?  Oh, and I just remembered that the ducks fly south to escape winter too.  Smart birds.

My husband jokes that my emotions are closely tied to the weather.  I think he’s partly right.  After a week of rain, I desperately need some sunshine to function!  There’s nothing like an early morning jog, an afternoon digging in the garden, or spending twilight outside with the kids chasing bubbles around the backyard to get you energized.  (Besides the fact that when I can’t escape outside, I’ll end up doing housework–no thank you!)  Even the rays of sun that filter through the windows change the mood.

The kids feel the same way.  I think, with the exeption of a few super hero cartoons and the occasional movie or two, they’d be perfectly happy imagining and blazing their own trails in the fresh air.  Rubber boots are stacked next to the back door, (Well, I stacked them neatly, after they just kicked them off and sent them flying–which is apparently really hilarious trick, by the way) for romping in the woods. Did you know that rubber boots are pointless if you just plunge face-first into a puddle?  Buckets aren’t far either for collecting treasures and watering flowers, and oftentimes–each other.    Lately, with all the rain, I’ve noticed boredom setting in.   The bikes are gathering dust in the garage, sidewalk chalk has been neglected, and our often-used patio table, with it’s water-logged canvas umbrella is downright depressing.  It gets old!

So, I’m on a quest to bring Spring inside!

The first thing that came to mind was to start planting.  Celery and green onions are the perfect indoor project.  And we use them alot in our winter favorite, here in Cajun Country–GUMBO!  We chopped the greens off, and left the white roots of both. Then simply put them in some water.  and Voila! After a week on the windowsill, they sprouted!  The celery grew about 2 inches, and the onions about 4 inches.  It’s amazing how easily and quickly they renew themselves.  I may never buy these two items again!  I have another celery cutting in the garden that’s 6-8 inches tall already.  Cool.

The kids love to check the veggies’ progress each day.  I plan to transplant them into the garden once my long-awaited Spring arrives.

Valentine Cookies

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Valentine Cookies

Yummy glazed sugar cookies--made from everyday ingredients almost everyone has in the pantry! Keep it simple!

Every year it’s the same. Valentine’s Day rolls around, my husband gets grouchy–claiming that the holiday was a conspiracy of greeting card companies. While he’s out picking out a sappy card for me, me and the kiddos get to baking!

As soon as my little man was big enough to stir, I had him in the kitchen with me. It’s one of the few places in the house where it’s ok to make a mess. In fact, it’s almost necessary! Each holiday we drag out the cookie cutters and get to rolling out our sugar cookies.

The recipe I use is so easy. Simple. It came from one of my Moma’s friends who enjoyed making them with her daughter, and I’d always liked the sound of that. Now, in our new house, I found an old farm table that my Daddy converted into an island. It’s a perfect place for them to sit, measure, stir, and occasionally sneak a taste of the dough. You know they’ve had fun when we’re scrubbing flour out of hair and eyebrows at bedtime!

I’ve learned to mass produce these cookies. Teachers, church programs, family and co-workers come to expect them with each holiday. I never have to sign up for party favors for my kids’ parties. They’ve already filled in my name in the blank next to “Cookies.” A helpful tip: Do NOT place a tupperware container FULL of your painstakingly-hand decorated homemade cookies on the top of the car while you buckle the kids in the car. Chances are, you’ll forget where you put them, and by the time you realize it, they, along with your really nice container are bird food on the side of the highway. Trust me.

Now, the ones the kids help with are NOT the ones that are approved for “public consumption” I keep those at home for us to eat, and wait until they’ve lost interest to make the pretty ones. Theirs are my favorites, though. They’re the ones that are broken and misshapen, with clumpy glaze and suspicious toddler-sized teeth marks in a few!

The best part is the sprinkles. They’re like glitter, adding an extra sparkle to the finished product. Also, like glitter, sprinkles make a MESS! I find them in the strangest places for days after a cookie-making-session. Go figure.

More than the fun of cookies and the delicious reward we get for our hard work, I hope I’m instilling my two kiddos the idea of traditions. They’re still young, but I want them to remember some day the fun of making a huge mess, one February afternoon, instead of taking a nap, eating waaaaay too much sugar and watching the cookies rise through the window of the oven while waiting to hear the timer ding.

Maddie’s Sugar Cookies:

1 c butter

1 1/4 c granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

4 c flour

Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Cream together with a mixer. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to butter mixture. Mix. On a WELL floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with desired shapes. Place on a baking sheet ( I like to use parchment paper to line the pan) Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

8-10 T water

Mix all in a large bowl. The water and extract will dissolve the sugar into the consistency of School Glue. Add food coloring if desired.

Once the cookies are cooled, simply dip the cookie facedown, allow excess to drip back into bowl, and place cookie on cooling rack to dry. Protect your counter with a baking sheet or dish towel. Top with desired sprinkles.

I actually had to measure the glaze ingredients out today for this recipe. I usually just eyeball it.

Enjoy!

Little hands

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One of the first craft projects I did with my children were things revolving around their handprints. Finger paint and toddlers just seemed like a fun way to spend the afternoon. I learned the hard way that just stripping them down to diapers was the easiest way to go. Those little hands are quite amazing! There’s nothing sweeter than a newborn wrapping it’s hand around your finger. They seemingly transform overnight from those chubby-slobber-covered-hands into dirty, grimy-just-dug-a-hole-in-the-flower-bed hands. Whatever the stage, I decided some time ago to capture those things in paint! They think it’s great fun, and I get a keepsake from this sweet time in their lives.

I found the canvases at Walmart–a 3 pack for $5 or so. You can’t beat that! Good ol’ construction paper or cardstock works great too. Just ask our refrigerator!

So get out your paint, roll up your sleeves, and make some memories!

Here are a few projects we’ve done over the last few months…

Well, here goes nothing

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Me?  Blog?  Why?   Well, I’ll tell you.  Just as everyone loves to remind me:  Kids grow up fast.  They change overnight.  And then those memories are gone.  UNLESS, you make a point to jot them down.  This is just one other way to document my crazy “Adventures of Mommydom”  as I’ve decided to call it.  There are so many hilarious moments, hair-pulling-out- frustrations,  hidden joys and heart-warming blessings that come from our day-to-day lives–I’m sure you’ll be entertained.  If you have kids of your own, you’ll be able to relate to our antics and join in fun projects we find on this journey.  If your kids are long gone and on their own, you can laugh and remember, or heave a sigh of relief that your turn is over.  I know these days are short-lived and I try to remind my self of this daily!  Enjoy everything!

Along the way, I’ll share my quest to be crafty, outdoorsy, and domestic…with fun ideas and points to ponder.

Stay tuned!