Sunday, June 23, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Awhile back, I read this post, written by a college friend, Katie, who essentially laughs about her "first-world problem" of deciding to whether or not to create a play room for her girls. This came to mind again when it became time to finally pack for the upcoming vacation. (Tropical island! No kids! Eeeeeeeee!)

The "first-world problem" that I had? Not knowing which shoes to pack! I know, I know, this is really not that BIG of a deal, but I was trying to limit myself, and there were just soooooo many choices. And that was when I was mainly limiting it to sandals and cute flats. That is why I am borrowing Katie's term "first-world problem," because it is totally apt here.

Here are some of the options that I considered (which is not even my inclusive shoe wardrobe, which now that I think about it, signifies that I am not as low-maintenance as I previously thought. That, or it's just easier to find shoes that fit than it is to find clothing, so I'm more likely to treat myself to shoes.) I laid them all out on top of the bed to see what might work, but it was still overwhelming. (Also, it's not a particularly good idea to put shoes on top of your bedspread, unless, of course, you don't mind getting it kind of dirty.)

Feeling stumped, I texted my mom asking for suggestions. Her response was that I needed sandals, beach shoes, and walking shoes. I already knew what I needed I told her, but how to choose which ones I wanted was the issue. No problem she tells me, just choose the ones that "go with everything." Um.... which ones would those be? If I had shoes that went with everything, would I "need" so many pairs?

This meant that I had to do a "fashion show," trying on all of my sundresses and cute shorts and tops, modeling them with each of the possible footwear options. (Brett was definitely not complaining about this.) While doing that, I also had to keep a mental tally of how many outfits would go best with each particular pair of shoes. In the end, I went with the black Crocs (bottom, middle) which are my new beach shoes, as I really, really HATE flip flops and would not even consider wearing those. The sneakers were also an essential for the rainforest. Brett insisted that I had to bring what he called the "sexy" shoes which are the black gladiator style wedges (bottom, second from left). And then, the basic sandals made the cut: the black ones (bottom, left) and the brown ones (bottom, right).

I seriously debated bringing the cobalt blue sandals (bottom, second from right) because I LOVE that color. However, they only went with one dress and one pair of shorts so they weren't the most practical choice. And then there were the woven green ballet flats (top, right) that I kept coming back to. They are super cute and I was really tempted, but again, they only went with a couple of things. Brett almost convinced me to pack them because I clearly wanted to SO badly, but I practiced some restraint here. As it was, five pairs of shoes seemed like plenty for a seven-day trip. (I'm sure most of the smart travelers who tell you how to pack one back only will tell you I am out of my mind for packing this many pairs in the first place, but this was tough stuff, and I am not joking when I say the hardest packing decision I made! It was easier to pack both my kids' stuff for a week at "Camp Grandma" that it was to decide which shoes to pack.)

So, folks, I'm leaving on a jet plane, and it's gonna be awesome! I can't wait to share some truly amazing memories -- when we return from our tropical paradise. In the meantime, don't look for any new posts for a bit. I'll on a beach drinking something with a little umbrella.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hair Help! (Because Sometimes Mommy Isn't Good at These Things...)

Recently, I blew Mia's mind by informing her that sometimes I don't always know how to do things and I need to learn how to do them. If I remember correctly, this was when we were trying out a new jam recipe after picking the mother load of strawberries. Anyway, she was clearly shocked, exclaiming, "But you're an adult!" Apparently, that means I know everything! Or, so she thought. I had her fooled up until this point...

Now, one of the biggest things that I have always struggled with as the mom of a little girl is hair styling. It's not something I have ever spent too much time on for myself. Long ago, I gave up on trying to make my curls straight. Despite trying to be low-maintenance, I do stress over hair a bit. (See more about the story of my "bad haircut" here, and Mia's first dance recital here, and Logan's curly hair, and how I gave up shampoo, and the time that Mia cut her own hair!) This is an area in which I definitely have room for improvement. (Mommy really can't do everything.)

Fortunately, Mia is at an age when she can do most of her own hair, with minor touch-ups on my end. However, dance recital is one of those times when kid-styled locks are just not going to cut it. This is something I literally dreaded: having to put her hair into a bun and get it to stay that way until she was done performing her tap routine to "Why Should I Worry?" from the movie Oliver & Company. (Remember that one? There was actually an 80's theme to the whole recital.) So cute, but I need to get back on topic...

I've already mentioned one life-improving hair product that I've found for moms of girls: the Knot Genie. This made getting her hair into a neat pony tail much quicker and easier than if I were doing this on my own! Then, I heard about a really wonderful thing from Mia's little friend's mom. (Also, I'm glad I asked. I was under the impression that this mom was a hair pro, and it turned out that she just had a handy trick up her sleeve. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.) This handy-dandy bun maker thingy is called "The Perfect Bun," and it's made by Remington. I found it in the hair accessory aisle of our local Wal-mart for about $5. Let me tell you, this is money well spent. I'm not saying her bun was "perfect." It still looked amateurish compared to some of the other girls' hair, but for me, this was the best darn bun I have ever made. And yes, it still took me some time, mostly because I was being perfectionistic, as usual, (and again, hair is not my area of expertise, not by a loooong stretch!) but the results were totally worth it.

{Mia's "Perfect" Bun}
The recital was last night, and we, thankfully, made it without any hair-raising drama. The thing that had me the most worked up was getting her hair into that "perfect" bun, and now that I know the secret to this, this will only get easier. (It was funny that once we sat down, Brett asked me if I was stressed out, and I thought What am I supposed to be stressing about?! I already did my major stressing over the hair! Once I dropped her off backstage, it was all in her hands (or tap shoes, I guess). On that note, I must end by saying how proud I am of my little dancing girl. This was the best I had ever seen her perform, and she definitely worked hard. She's really come a long way in the three years since she starting taking dance classes, developing confidence along with the dance steps! And, Mommy is learning a thing or two along the way, as well.

{Take a bow!}

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Sweet Strawberry Season

Last Friday was the first day of strawberry season, so the kids and I headed out that morning to do some picking. I knew this would be our only opportunity to go picking during the short season since we have VBS every morning this week, and I definitely did not want to go out to the fields in the heat of the afternoon. Plus, very, very soon we will be leaving for our vacation. (Tropical island! No children! Eeeeeee!)

{Riding the wagon out to the fields is a favorite!}

Things went very smoothly this year, and I decided to ask for another big box so we could continue picking after we filled the first one. By the time they were tired, we had 16 pounds of sweet, juicy strawberries! This is probably twice the amount we picked last year, and it is fair to say that we have gone a bit overboard. (It helped that I had remembered the check book this time around, so I wasn't worried about going over my limited amount of cash.)

In general, I was more prepared than last year. We had quarters for the animal feed stations since there is a petting farm at this berry patch. (I didn't know that before...) Other essentials that we know to bring besides sunscreen and the camera included: our hats, our rain boots (good thing, too, because it was very muddy!), our dark-colored shirts (old clothes are crucial, here; I was surprised to see what nice clothing some other families dressed their little ones in!), and our very helpful, hands-free, belted berry buckets (just some old milk jugs -- half gallon for the kids and a gallon-size for me; I wrote about how to make them here).

{I always caught him eating...}

The only downside to picking all of those berries was that I had to do something with them, and very quickly before they spoiled. The upside, of course, was that we were able to make LOTS of delicious things! The first thing we made was 4 jars of strawberry jelly using this easy recipe for any-berry jelly. Next, we made 4 jars of strawberry jam using this recipe, which is as the name implies, quite simple:

Easy Berry Jam
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 pints fresh sliced strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, or a combination (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
  1. Pour the water into a large saucepan and add the gelatin packets. Let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Kids can help by juicing 2 halves of a lemon. (Fortunately, mine knew how to do this from our lemonade stand experience.) They can also sort and rinse berries.
  3. Add the strawberries (or other berries), sugar, and lemon juice to the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing berries slightly with potato masher. (This is a step that I allowed Mia to help with, but not Logan because he is kind of young to be that close to the stove, in my opinion.)
  4. Spoon into jars (mine had been washed and sterilized in the hot water bath while we were doing the other steps to prepared the jam). Cool slightly before refrigerating. Chill until set, about 3 hours. This will keep for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 1 year in the freezer.

{Well, it's not as pretty as can be, but I am improving...}

I also made a strawberry pie to serve for Father's Day dessert since it is one of Brett's favorites. I used this recipe for Shimmering Strawberry Pie, but cheated and used a store-bought graham cracker crust in place of the oil pastry. (I really do need to learn to do that, but it's been kinda crazy 'round here.) I did step up my game a little bit, though, by making some whipped cream using my new stand mixer. This was actually my first time making homemade whipped cream (although, it is so simple, I am not sure why I never did it before) and I tried this recipe:

Basic Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream (This is the smallest package available at the store, in case you're wondering.)
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Chill the bowl and whisk attachment to a stand mixer in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add ingredients to bowl and whip on high speed for 1 minute, until medium peaks form.
  3. That's it. Be sure not to do it for too long, or you will end up with something more the consistency of butter. I stuck the whipped cream in the refrigerator to let it chill before putting it in my pastry bag and using it the garnish the pie. (Is this the best way? Who knows? It's just what I tried.)
Next up, I made some strawberry topping, which I served over waffles for our very tasty dinner. I later made a triple batch, put it into 3 different half-pint canning jars and froze them to use for ice cream topping or topping for more waffles or pancakes. So good! I found the recipe here last year, pinned it, and finally tried it out this summer. Some people had commented on the site that the recipe was not very clear, but it seemed difficult to mess it up, in my opinion.

Supreme Strawberry Topping
  • 1 pint berries (about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Wash and hull strawberries. Halve large berries or roughly chop them. 
  2. Combine strawberries, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. (After reading another person's suggestion, I reserved about 1/3 of the berries for later.) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mash a few strawberries with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula to help produce the syrup. (I used a whisk.) Cook until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat. In a blender, puree about 1/3 of the sauce, then mix back into remaining topping. (This was the reserved berries. I cooked it a bit longer, and just skipped the pureeing step, which seemed unnecessary.) Store in refrigerator. (Again, I froze mine, so hopefully, this will thaw and still be delicious when we are ready to eat it.) 
For another quintessential taste-of-summer treat (at least this is one we always had when I was younger, often times in place of dinner, although I always serve it as dessert because I'm not as cool as my mom!), Mia and Logan helped me make strawberry shortcake. This is the healthier version that I have been using for the past couple of years:

Strawberry Shortcake 
  • 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 Tbs. butter (recipe says "or margarine," but obviously, there is no substitute for real butter)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk* (see below for how I make this)
  • whipped cream (homemade or store-bought)
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. 
  2. In another bowl, stir together flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. (Kids can help measure and pour dry ingredients.) Using a pastry blender, but in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (My kids loved helping with this step.) Combine beaten egg and buttermilk* and add to the flour mixture. Stir until moistened and drop by rounded tablespoon into 8 mounds on an ungreased baking sheet. (I lined mine with parchment paper.) 
  3. Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until golden. (I find this takes an additional minute or two, but oven vary.) Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes. 
  4. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream. 
To Make *Buttermilk* These are my reduced measurements from the amounts that are called for here. I just don't need a full cup for this recipe, so I have altered the measurements.
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used whole milk.)
  • 3/4 tsp. distilled white vinegar (Can also use lemon juice) 
  1. Place 3/4 tsp. vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup. 
  2. Add enough milk to fill the measuring cup. 
  3. Let set for 5 minutes before using.
{Helping make shortcake}

{Finished shortcake}

Okay, here's the grand finale, folks. After the kiddos were in bed, I served up some really tasty, adult-only Father's Day strawberry goodness in the form of frozen daiquiris. Mmmmmmmmm! This is a simple, but insanely brilliant idea for make-ahead drinks. Brett and I each enjoyed a cocktail that evening, and now we have 4 more waiting in the freezer for whenever the mood to chillax strikes. This is one I saw on Pinterest last summer and just now have gotten around to trying. So glad I did! It was a very satisfying ending to a sweet strawberry season.

Frozen Fruit Daiquiris
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate (I used lemonade.)
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) rum (I used Bacardi.)
  • 4 cups frozen fruit (her recommendation -- I used fresh strawberries, obviously)
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • sweetener (optional -- I skipped this)
  • fresh fruit for garnish (optional -- yeah, skipped this too, but maybe if we are ever entertaining...)
  1. In a blender, combine lemonade or limeade concentrate, rum, and fruit. (I used whole strawberries.)
  2. Blend until smooth. Add ice and blend again until smooth, with no remaining chunks of ice.
  3. Taste and add sweetener if desired. (Brett and I thought these were perfect.)
  4. To freeze and save for later, add daiquiris to clean, half-pint mason jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Then, screw on lids and freeze. They will keep for up to a month. 
  5. To serve, remove from the freezer and allow to warm up for 5-15 minutes. Then use a fork to break the frozen daiquiri. Easy, and so tasty! I think we will have to try this with some other fruits, too.
{Brett asked, "You added exclamation points to the labels?" Yes, sir! I was that excited!}

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A (Hopefully) Practical Gift for Dad

So, feeling a bit of a time crunch, I didn't have the kids make (or hand-make it myself, and let them take credit, whichever the case may be) gifts for Brett and the grandfathers this year. I chose to stick with a photo gift. They are usually well received plus they are relatively quick to make and not at all expensive (at least not the ones I choose!). The only problem was deciding what photo gift to make.

In the past, I have made a few different photo gifts for various occasions: photo calendars for Christmas, photo books for Mother's Day, photo mugs for Father's Day, personalized photo notepads for Mother's Day, photo aluminum water bottles for Mother's Day, photo travel mugs for my brothers' birthdays, and possibly more that I can't think of right now. The thing I have noticed, though, is that some of these items don't get used for their intended purpose because the recipient is concerned about damaging it or something. For example, my dad told me that the mug used to sit on his desk at work as a hard candy holder. Really, my intent was for these gifts to be used, and not just displayed. (Really, you can put a hot drink in the mug! That's what it's for...) So, I had to come up with something really functional.

My original thought was to make iPhone covers after they were mentioned in an email I received from Shutterfly. However, upon doing some research, I discovered that my father-in-law no longer uses an iPhone for work, and my mom swore that my dad wouldn't like it, suggesting that it was too "girly." That I don't even understand, but I just thought, Okay, that idea is out. Plus, the obvious issue here is that Brett doesn't own an iPhone (although, trust me, if this were a viable option for us, he would definitely want one!).

Then, I thought about photo barbecue aprons, but again, those might have come across as too "girly," even if they would have pictures of my adorable children on them. So, I wasn't even gonna go there. Next, I thought about photo mouse pads, which would serve a purpose for Brett at work, but maybe not so much for the grandpas. Plus, there's the lame-o gift factor, so I nixed that idea.

Eventually, I settled on the idea to make these photo magnets, which are a set of four magnets, each 2" x 2" and can be completely personalized. (They were also on sale, so it pays to look for the deals.) This allowed me to make two magnets with photos of Mia and two with photos of Logan. I made one set that said things like "World's Best Daddy!" and "I Love Daddy!" Then took the same pictures and altered the text to read  "Grandpa!" in place of "Daddy," which was a quick, simple change. The photo magnets look nice and they're a truly practical gift. So, to all my favorite fathers, it's on, guys. I challenge you to not use these the way they were meant to be used!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Slippery Sock Solution

After reading this post about "parent hacks" that my friend Kelli shared on Facebook, I decided that I loved that lingo -- "parent hacks" -- so I am totally going to borrow it! I had seen a few of those ideas before, but the only one that I am currently using is the bread tab on the end of the tape roll so that I can always find the end. (This really is handy, and I have one on every roll of masking tape, duct tape, and packing tape in the house.) Reading about another person's ideas of "parent hacks" got me thinking as to whether or not I have created any "parent hacks" of my own. I came up with just one idea I have pulled off and posted about, my holy footie pj's repair job.

However, I did accomplish another "parent hack" this week, and quite successfully, I might add. Mia has been complaining about her socks being too slippery. (I'm not exactly sure why this is such an issue, considering that it is summer, but whatever.) Anyway, I must have mentioned an idea I had seen or read about somewhere to use puffy paint on the bottoms of socks (or maybe it was footie pajamas, since I was looking for ideas for fixing those holes...). Essentially, this would create DIY gripper socks, like the kind she always had when she was a toddler (but didn't have in her big-girl wardrobe). Mia reminded me that I had said I would do this, and she held me to it. We had a fresh supply of puffy paint on hand from having recently made our own window clings, so I couldn't really use the excuse of not having what I needed to get it done. So, I had her round up all the socks that required my attention before she went to bed one recent evening. This just meant that I had to actually make the gripper socks.

Fortunately, this is a truly simple "parent hack." To make gripper socks, I just took a tube of puffy paint (I used black, but any color would work) and made designs on the bottoms of her socks. Some designs that I used included dots, squiggly lines, butterflies, and hearts. On one pair, I wrote her name in a sort of calligraphy-inspired script, which she was especially excited by. Then, I just left the socks -- paint side up -- on the table to dry overnight. The not-so-slippery socks were ready to wear by morning. Problem solved.

{My slippery sock solution: puffy paint!}

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lessons from a Lemonade Stand

Last Thursday I let the kids try their hand at running their very first business: a lemonade stand. While this is not something I ever had the opportunity to do, it seems like something every kid should do at least once during childhood. Mia really wanted to do this at some point in the summer, and I for reasons that I can't really explain given how busy we are preparing for our vacation, (Tropical island! No kids!! Ring any bells?) decided to try to cram that into our already bursting-at-the-seams schedule.

Before agreeing to this venture, I had Mia brainstorm a list of items that we would need to buy or make before setting up shop. She came up with: table, chairs, sign, pitcher, cups, balloons, and of course, lemonade. For that, I had an interesting recipe I wanted to try: watermelon lemonade (which I found in the June 21, 2013 issue of All You magazine, page 4). And, I happened to have lemons and watermelon on hand, which meant that this was as good a time as any to test the recipe and run a lemonade stand. Two birds, one stone.

Sweet Pink Lemonade (makes 12 servings)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups watermelon, chopped 
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups lemon juice (from about 8 lemons)
  • ice
  1. Bring 6 cups water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Puree 4 cups chopped watermelon in a blender (I used my food processor for this.) along with 1 cup of water.
  4. Pour syrup and watermelon puree through a strainer into a pitcher. (This step was really messy!)
  5. Stir in 2 cups fresh lemon juice. (The kids helped with the squeezing, but this was mostly a job for Mama.)
  6. Serve over ice. (Hard to do when you're sitting outside for a couple of hours...)
Sounds pretty good, right? It is! However, this is a fair bit of work to put into a kids' lemonade stand endeavor. So, lesson #1 I learned is that when making a lemonade stand, don't knock yourself out making fresh squeezed lemonade from organic lemons and pureed watermelon. Seriously, I doubt that our customers knew or cared how much effort went into making the stuff. *If* we do this again, I will probably just use frozen lemonade concentrate or perhaps, more lazily, a powdered drink mix. For some reason it seemed important to keep it real, but in retrospect, I don't think it mattered.

Setting up a table and chairs was easy. Getting balloons blown up was trickier. I don't have that much hot air, it seems, and the kids are a bit young to be much help in this arena. Making a sign shouldn't have been as time-consuming as it was, but being perfectionistic, I decided to do it myself using my Cricut and some yellow and pink card stock. (I am not sure if this was the right choice or not. Mia could have done the lettering herself, of course, but I didn't think it would be as legible, so I wanted the cut-out letters to hopefully get more attention.) One thing I made sure to highlight on the sign was the word "fresh" because after all that effort, I wanted people to know they were buying a quality product! Is there a lesson here? I'm not sure, but I think it is still related to #1: don't overdo things; Keep it simple.

Now, came one of the more difficult decisions: what price to assign to a small paper cup of fresh squeezed lemonade? Initially, I was thinking only a quarter because the cups were small kitchen cups, but after all of the work invested in my kids' lemonade stand, (and thinking about having to hand wash my lemon juicer, large pot, and assorted food processor pieces...), I made the executive decision to charge 50 cents per cup. I figured $1 was too steep, and 50 cents was the next logical choice. Lesson #2 is that everything has value, including Mom's time. (However, Mom is also the person who makes sacrifices, so I decided not to charge the kids for my time or for the materials we used to make their lemonade. I'm still debating whether or not that was the right decision. I wanted them to see some "profits" but I also wanted them to recognize that everything came at a cost. Tough stuff, when you really think about it, and I thought it was just lemonade!) I think that *if* we run another lemonade stand, I really should let them have the true lesson in economics. This was just the intro course, and I omitted some of the critical learning.

Lesson #3 was more of a lesson for the children with regards to persistence. About half an hour into the waiting game, Mia announced that this was boring. (Shocker, I know!) I tried to remain optimistic even though I didn't think we would get many customers. We live on a paved road off of a dirt road, so we're kind of isolated. Our only hope was the neighborhood people and given that it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, it didn't seem like we would get too much business. I reminded the kids that they had to be friendly and wave to all of the cars that passed by. Logan jumped on this idea immediately, and waved enthusiastically while yelling out out to each passerby, "Hi! We have a lemonade stand!!" Amazingly, we started getting customers right after this, so there is power in positive thinking.

There really are good people in the world. I think this lesson #4 hit home for me, perhaps, more than it did for Mia and Logan. Once the neighbors started showing up, they would buy more than one cup, so that meant $1 instead of 50 cents. I honestly did not expect that, because, again, I was worried that I was overcharging in the first place. Then, we had two people who made donations/tips to the lemonade stand, just because they were supportive. One neighbor said, "Here's a tip just for being an entrepreneur." Isn't that nice? (It made me feel like I should do a better job of supporting lemonade stands...) But the one thing that really impressed me was when the UPS delivery man stopped his truck just so he could buy two (again, not one but two!) cups of our by-then lukewarm lemonade. While I was a teensy bit upset over the people who promised to "come back later" and never did, in the end they sold 13 cups and got paid for more than that, which exceeded my expectations of what we could achieve in a two-and-one-half-hour window on a Thursday afternoon in our neighborhood, where people pretty much keep to themselves.

Mia learned a lesson in responsibility (#5). Our neighbors across the street actually set up a bouncy house while we were working at the lemonade stand. (We had been invited over to bounce earlier in the day, and had taken advantage of their hospitality for about a half hour.) This was a very tough decision for her, but ultimately, she decided to keep manning the stand instead of going off to do the thing that would have been immediately gratifying. I was, admittedly, shocked that she made this choice, especially after watching her weigh the choices in her mind, and seeing how hard it was for her to decide to stick with her business plan!

Lesson #6 is one on being prepared. Lemonade stands are a sticky, messy business so have lots of towels on hand for cleaning up all the spills. The drink dispenser may go haywire at some point from too many little hands fiddling with it, so make sure your extra cups are easily within reach because you may find yourself filling cup after cup, trying to keep up with the gushing. (Must not waste any of that fresh squeezed organic lemonade with pureed watermelon!) Oh, and don't forget a bag to hold all of the used cups, like I did. Sunscreen seemed like an obvious choice (check!), but little did I know, we would actually need an umbrella before the afternoon was over! Make sure your kids have their own water bottles so they are not tempted to drink up the lemonade supply. I made sure that we had change before heading outside, not knowing that we wouldn't really need it. (Nice people!) And I figured having hand sanitizer available couldn't hurt.

Once the rain got too hard, we shut down the lemonade stand, and headed inside, where I counted the money. When all was said and done, I gave each of the kids $3.50. As Brett pointed out, this wasn't the profits, it was the revenue. I had decided not to charge them the $3 for the lemons or the $2.50 for half of a watermelon that was used. Sugar and cups were such small amounts that I didn't know how to calculate the cost for those, and then there was the issue of my time. Undoubtedly, it is valuable, but it was all a gift, because I wanted them to have the experience. Lesson #7 was to just plain enjoy life! We had a good/exhausting/sticky afternoon, and we may have come out ahead by a dollar of so, but the real lessons had more to do with earning money. (This is fortunate, since there wasn't much money actually made when you do the math.) It was more rewarding for me just to let them enjoy the feeling of success, while we kicked back and finally enjoyed some of that sweet pink lemonade. I think we all earned it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Problem with Pinterest

Well, here's another idea I found on Pinterest. (I'm starting to think this should be a tag in and of itself.) First, let me say that it had never occurred to me to use sidewalk chalk for photo props, and I think this idea is pretty brilliant. When I told Mia about the idea to write "Kindergarten" on the driveway and then have her lie down next to it for a fun end-of-school-year photo, she was excited to try it out!

However, the problem lies in actually pulling off a successful photo. (Things are always easier in theory than in actuality, right?) Naturally, the post that this links to doesn't give any directions on how to produce the cute photo results, so I had to wing it. That didn't seem like it would be terribly difficult but the next obstacle was the weather. It was unseasonably cool on the last couple days of school, and she was actually wearing jeans and long-sleeve tops! That didn't seem very summery, and I didn't want to make her miserable, so I didn't even suggest trying the photo "session" on those days. Then, it rained. And then we had Daddy's birthday to celebrate so her portrait session was placed on the back burner.

Finally, there was a day when it rained, and then cleared up, and the driveway was dry enough to give it a whirl. The sun was shining at that point, and I thought we were golden! I grabbed a piece of pink sidewalk chalk and wrote "Kindergarten" as artistically as possible, and then I went to grab my camera. When I returned, Mia had taken orange chalk and drawn hearts all around the lettering. At first, I was caught off guard, and if I'm being honest, I was a teensy bit upset because I had worked to make it look "Pinterest perfect." But, then I decided to just roll with it because this was, after all, about her. ("It's not about me!" is one of those mommy mantras that pops up from time to time, and I really hope I'm not alone in this.)

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that there can be too much of a good thing, in this case, sunshine. Seriously? Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but that sun we were pining for came back to bite us. The first few photos I took included Mia squinting into the sunlight, resulting in some less than ideal portraits. She didn't really look thrilled to have just finished kindergarten. Instead she looked like she was in pain. Rats!

Obviously, didn't want us to remember kindergarten as the year that made her quite constipated, (if you go by facial expressions, alone, this is how I am reading that look) so I then decided to have her sit up for a different view point that would hopefully avoid the squinty-eyed-make-it-fast-you're-killing-me-here-Mooooooooooom look. It wasn't the shot I was really after, but it was a definite improvement.

Undeterred, and still hoping to get that lying down shot of her next to the word "Kindergarten," we decided to wait until it was slightly cloudier before trying again. By then, she wanted to wear socks and shoes with her capris, which was a look I wasn't totally digging. But again, I let it slide because it wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, and it seemed like that was what she was offering me, a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity. Since I was really wanting that picture that looked so perfect on Pinterest, darn it, I decided to take it! Well, this is as good as it gets. I haven't figured out yet, if having a step stool was helpful or not, but it was something I experimented with to try to get the right angle. Anyway, Mia at least looks happy in those last few attempts, so I will try to overlook those silly socks and shoes.

Someday, we may a whole album or photo book full of these goofy end-of-school-year memories to display at her graduation. (I really am trying to let go of some of my idealistic expectations, but it's a process.) Hopefully, we'll learn a few little tips along the way. And, I'm guessing some of them won't even be about achieving picture perfect results. ("It's not about me!")

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Simple Magnet Board Idea

I don't know where I came across this idea originally. I just know that I have known about it for many years, since my undergraduate days when I was studying elementary education. (This is what my bachelor's degree is, in case you ever wondered.)

Coming across a huge stash of magnet letters in the basement reminded me of this idea and I pulled out the cookie sheets and let the kids entertain themselves with the magnets. It's a nice tactile way of writing, which is much quicker to pull together than my sandpaper letter rubbings, for example. Plus, if you happen to have several sets of letters, they can practice matching up letters from various fonts. Mia, of course, was able to spell her name and to practice other writing, making this is a perfect literacy activity for elementary kids. For Logan, who is just getting interested in letters and the sounds that they make, this was more of a fun way to play around with the letters and do some "writing" of his own. So, it's also a great introductory activity for preschool age kids who are in the emergent stage of literacy.

{She got a bit creative: "W" = "M" and "1" = "I"}

Teaching terms aside, this is a truly simple and smart activity for any mom to do with her kids at home using materials I am nearly positive you already have at hand. The cookie sheets work as a magnetic tray, keeping everything contained for a nice busy bag type activity, and they will work with other magnets as well. For example, my friend Julie showed me a set of circus themed animals and people that she had cut out, laminated, and affixed magnets to so that they could be used to tell a story. This is a pretty cool idea, but for now I will stick with our super simple ABC magnet boards. They're perfect for a rainy day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Party Like It's MCMXCIX!

We're kind of dorks. (That might not be a news flash, but I thought I would state it up front, in case you didn't read this.) That's why I was pretty geeked (pun intended) to find these "Roman Candles" a few months back at Marshall's for $3.99. I tucked them away, feeling they would be perfect for my math nerd husband's birthday cake.

For his birthday, he requested this Toffee Cake, and I agreed to make it, because it was his birthday, and also, because he's pretty awesome. When he was looking for cake recipes, he decided to skip bookmarking any that called for a stand mixer since we didn't have one at the time, and he selected this particular recipe that called for a boxed Devil's Food Cake mix. Then, in a somewhat ironic turn of events, I finally got my stand mixer!! (See, I told you he was pretty awesome.) Brett's birthday cake was its inaugural usage, and I have to say that this was such a joy to use with a boring old boxed cake mix, I can hardly wait to make something from scratch. (You know, when I have more time... like when I'm not busy preparing for our tropical vacation sans children. Eeeeeeeee!)

Even though I linked the recipe from, I'm going to take the time to type it out here. Why? Well, I lost one recipe (that I know of) for some white chocolate strawberry muffins that I posted here and I have forever been looking for a substitute since then, and falling hopelessly short. So, in the event that I really want this recipe again, (and I am sure I will!) I will have a fail-safe. Smart, huh?

  • 1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
  • 1/2 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (I used a bit extra.)
  • 6 oz. caramel ice cream topping (Again, I used extra.)
  • 3 bars chocolate covered toffee, chopped
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  1. Bake cake according to package directions in a 9" x 13" pan. (To make the cake look a bit more elegant, I decided to make it a layer cake instead of baking it in a 9" x 13" cake pan.) Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Make slits across the top of the cake, making sure not to go through to the bottom.
  2. In a sauce pan over low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping, stirring until smooth and blended. Slowly pour over warm cake, letting it sink into slits; then sprinkle with the crushed candy bars. (I skipped doing this in between my two layers, but I did add extra caramel sauce.)
  3. Let the cake cool completely, then top with Cool Whip. Decorate the top of the cake with more toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping. Refrigerate.

For display, it was placed on a new-to-me glass cake stand that I had picked up at a rummage sale for $1 the very morning that I was planning to make the cake. Serendipitous, indeed! I was a bit harried, though, since it was the last day of school for Mia, and I didn't end up trimming the two rounds to make them even and flat. It turned out not to be a big deal, though, because the Cool Whip made excellent, easy-to-work-with frosting. I had never used a tub of Cool Whip for frosting before, but I expect to use it again because it was very simple to apply with my angled spatula and it covered up a multitude of baking sins (like those uneven layers I mentioned.) I was thankful to have reserved a small amount of Cool Whip to do touch-ups, as we were traveling to Brett's brother's house to celebrate, and it got a just a tiny bit messy looking on the way there. (My strange method that I came up with for transporting the cake worked very well: I stuck the cake stand into a large pot so that the stand rested just on the outer edges. This was I was able to hold it in place and rest my hands on the handles of the pot during the drive, and remain reasonably comfortable while doing so.)

In addition to looking pretty, this cake was very moist, too, thanks to the caramel sauce that was drizzled into slits cut into both of the layers. I topped it all off with the extra caramel sauce and some smashed up Heath bars, Brett's favorite candy bar. (By the way, pummeling candy bars with a rubber mallet is very cathartic. Just make sure they are sealed in a baggie and then wrapped in a towel, and you're good to go.) On another side note, the left over condensed milk was very happily used for condensed milk paintings, which Mia had been asking me to do again, so that was a happy coincidence, and it meant no waste (because obviously, we will eat the remaining caramel topping soon...). Everyone agreed that the cake was delicious, but the Roman numeral candles were truly the Pièce de résistance!

{All you need to know is that I am younger!}

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to Tell If Your Dog May Be Spoiled

Using my pseudo-scientific method, you too, can determine if your dog is spoiled in just three easy steps.
1) Make some popcorn.
Don't worry; even the most sluggish of pooches will soon learn to recognize and respond to the sound of un-popped kernels being poured into the air popper. (The more quickly she emerges from her den, the more likely it is that you have a spoiled dog on your hands.)

2) Observe your dog's behavior while the popcorn is popping.
Does your dog simply watch as pieces of popped corn fly out of the air popper and land on the floor, totally ignoring them while giving you the "you've got to be kidding me" look? (If so, she may be spoiled.)

{Is it just me or does it really look like she's laughing?}

3) To be certain, add melted butter and note how excited your dog becomes. 
For example, my dog suddenly becomes much more lively because this is what she was waiting for! (Yeah, this is the true litmus test for determining whether or not your dog is truly spoiled.)

Now that your suspicions are confirmed, you may as well share your buttered popcorn with your spoiled pet. Before you jump down my throat, our vet says this is an acceptable treat for dogs. Okay, she didn't specifically say to add butter, but as you can see, her royal highness has decided that this is the only way she will eat it! By the way, I should add that step 2b is to clean up any un-buttered popcorn that landed on the floor, because the pampered pooch sure isn't going to take care of it any time soon.

{Oh, really, who could say "no" to this sweet face?}

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Charming Teacher Gift!

Well, school has officially ended for the year, but not before the presentation of teacher gifts. Mia took her teacher and the para-pro the gifts that we had made, birds nest earrings with handmade cards. We were down to the wire on this, too, because I didn't get her to write in the cards until yesterday. So they were not delivered until this morning, the very last day of school! Both of these lovely ladies thanked me at pick-up time, so I decided the gifts were a success.

But, what really surprised me was that her teacher, Mrs. Myers, gave ME a gift! It was completely unexpected, of course. I can't imagine too many teacher give gifts to the parents at the end of the school year when they already have so much on their plates. This is what makes it so special and so very sweet!

{My life is charmed -- a gift FROM the teacher!}

She gave me a bright pink Gerbera daisy, and told me that Mia had selected the color she thought I would like best. (Secretly, I believe that Mia selected the color she preferred, but that doesn't really matter. I do LOVE it.) Here's the really special part about the gift. It was completely personalized because Mrs. Myers, along with the entire kindergarten class, had stamped their thumb prints in various colors and then signed their names. (And, the teacher in me noted that every child's signature was legible, which is an accomplishment for many of them! Trust me, I can tell you this from personal experience, having sorted many, many papers over the past several months. This was the first time that there wasn't one or two I was unsure about, and I like to believe that my special education background has given me pretty good handwriting analysis!) That she would find the time to have the whole class do this for me was so thoughtful, and it completely made my day to receive this on Wednesday!

{Look how they've "bloomed!"}

It felt amazing to read these words, "Thank you so much for your support in my classroom this year! It's because if parents like you that we can do as much as we do with our little sweethearts!" (See, Self, it's not a waste of a master's degree to collate, file, and do other mundane classroom housekeeping tasks! Not that I miss doing these things in my own classroom one bit, thank you very much.) While it felt wonderful to be appreciated as a volunteer, it had me thinking that this would also make a very thoughtful gift FOR a sweet teacher, if you happen to be looking for ideas. The trick is just to find a way to get all the kiddos in the class to sign it in secret. I especially love the thumb prints, too, it's just a little something extra.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Getting My Way (without Even Trying Too Hard!)

Today, as I was going to make cookies, I discovered, sadly, that the hand mixer had bitten the dust. Rats! I unplugged it, took out the beaters, put them back in, and tried again. It still didn't work. So, I tried the other side of the outlet, and when that didn't work, I switched to another outlet. Yep, it was completely dead. This was pretty frustrating, however, I did learn that it is possible to cream sugar and butter together by hand. Note, I don't recommend this; it's quite time-consuming and my arm was pretty tired by the time I had completed the cookie dough, stirring in my cocoa powder/flour/salt/baking soda mixture, and then adding the peanut butter baking bits. Honestly, I would have given up on this had I not already poured sugar into the mixing bowl. That meant that the butter couldn't be salvaged for another use, and I was committed to the task at hand.

Somewhere in the midst of this challenge, I started sending text messages with Brett, leading to a whole silly conversation (which I have taken the liberty of editing so that you don't have to deal with all of our spelling and grammatical errors).

Me: (12:31 pm) "I was getting ready to make cookies but hand mixer will not work."
Brett: (12:32 pm) "Is the outlet working?"
Me: (12:33 pm){Wondering if he thinks I'm dumb...} "Tried different outlet. :("
Brett: (12:49 pm) "Guess we'll have to get stand up mixer."
Me: (12:50 pm) {Trying to play it cool, but WHAT?! Is he serious? I've only wanted one since forever!} "I guess so!"
Brett: (12:52 pm) "Don't sound so excited."
Me: (12:52 pm) "Hey, I'm doin' it by hand here, so give me some credit."
Me: (2:17 pm) {It's been a while since I heard from him, so I figure I'd better test the waters to see how serious he is...} "I will need something in the next couple days in order to make your birthday cake!"
Brett: (2:19 pm) "How convenient. I better not come home and find dent marks on the hand mixer from where you 'accidentally' dropped it."
Me: (2:20 pm) "Don't worry... I will cover my tracks."
Brett: (2:21 pm) "Good. Feel free to blame the dog, too."
Me: (2:24 pm) "Actually, I was thinking of those kids who supposedly will get a puppy if that get so many 'likes' on FB. I could try it for 'my hubby needs to buy me a stand mixer!'"
Brett: (2:30 pm) "Kohl's has Kohl's Cash available right now. Buy mixer. Get sheets?"
(We actually just discovered that our sheets have holes in them, so sad, but I guess that is inevitable after almost 12 years of marriage.)
Me: (2:45 pm) "Now you're being sensible. :)"
Brett: (3:01 pm) "When wasn't I being sensible?"

Around 5:00, he called me to say he is at Kohl's and he asked what color stand mixer I wanted. Pretty awesome, but all I could think was, I've got to be at a meeting at church soon! So, I told him, I can't decide without seeing them, and anyway, I need you home NOW! I was pretty surprised by how serious he was about going through with my stand mixer pipe-dream... but I just didn't have the time for it right then. He surprised me further by coming home with $400 worth of Kohl's gift cards that he had bought at Kroger, explaining that they were currently doing extra fuel points with gift card purchases. This is cool and all, but seriously Who are you, and what have you done with my husband? I gave him a kiss (I think!), collected the gift cards, and scooted out the door, all the while wondering, What in the world is going on?

After my meeting was finished at church, I resumed our text messaging.
Me: (7:55 pm) "Done at church. Going to Kohl's."
Brett: (7:57 pm) "Feel free to buy something pretty for yourself."
{Um, yeah... I'm getting a stand mixer! What's going on here, anyway? This is when I came up with assorted scenarios that would explain this uncharacteristic behavior, mainly the okaying of spending money, money, money. Seriously now, Who are you and what have you done with my husband?!}

I tried on the following ideas:

a) Someone has stolen my husband's phone and he/she is having fun messing with my head? {Not likely.}
b) He's being held at gunpoint, and this is his way of sending me a hidden Help! message? {Even less likely.}
c) He has some sort of brain tumor that is applying pressure just so... as to alter his personality? {Gosh, I sure hope not!}
d) He's having a affair, and this is his way of compensating for his guilt? {Highly improbable!}
e) He's feeling super geeked about our upcoming vacation sans children, (To a tropical island! Eeeeeeee!) and is, therefore, feeling generous? {Yes! This MUST be the answer! It's the only thing that makes sense.}

While this interesting turn of events initially threw me a curve ball, I ended up deciding that it doesn't matter why he was giving me the green light. The only thing that mattered was that I was getting my stand mixer! Decision time led to more conversation.

Me: (8:15 pm) "Looks like the least expensive model is only in white."
Brett: (8:17 pm) "My original thought was the $350 model."
Me: (8:18 pm) {That explains the $400 in gift cards. Also, score!} "It is nicer. Do you like cobalt blue or the silver color which looks like our major appliances?
Brett: (8:20 pm) "I see that you're easy to convince. I figured silver to match, but it's your choice."
Me: (8:21 pm) {I am drawn to the blue, but the silver seems more practical.} "It probably has staying power. Plus, it will go with any decor from current to whatever... I will get the chrome then."

And, I almost did pick it up right then to head to the check-out, but I remembered his suggestion to "buy something pretty" for myself and I decided that I should probably ride that train as far as I could. So, naturally, I started in the shoe department. Unfortunately, the two pairs of elegant, metallic, gladiator sandals that I tried out weren't very comfy, which meant they weren't to practical for our upcoming trip. (To a tropical island! Without kids! Eeeeeeeeee!) I did, however, find a cute and comfortable pair of brown sandals that meet my criteria (nothing between the toes and not too high of a heel), and I had truly needed brown sandals, so this was a smart purchase for under $20. Then, I tried on some clothes and came away with a pretty purple sun dress, which fit me perfectly! (It was on clearance. Plus, it's usually hard to find things that are small enough for me. Obviously, it was meant to be!) I also found a fun short-sleeved cardigan in my favorite shade of green, which was also on clearance, and also in my size. Yeah! So exciting, but I knew I needed to head home before I really went overboard. I have been on a spending spree lately with preparations for the trip. (Did I mention it's to a tropical island? Eeeeeeeee!)

At the check-out, I was prepared to spend all of the gift cards and pay the difference with my credit card when the sales clerk told me about their scratch-off special for Kohl's card holders. I had never gotten the Kohl's charge card because we don't make such large purchases that it would be worth it to us. However, she let me scratch one off to see what my savings would be if I did: 15 percent. I realized that would be about $60 in savings, more than what I was spending on my "pretty things for myself," so I went ahead and got the charge card, mentally crossing my fingers that he wouldn't be mad at me. I think he was still surprised when I got home and told him what I had done, but not as surprised as I was to have been making this shopping expedition in the first place. And, how could he argue with saving that much money? I even had money left on one of the gift cards, over $40, in fact. Combine that with the $60 in Kohl's Cash, and we should be able to pick out a nice, quality sheet set to last us our next 12 years. And, if that's not enough wonderful news for one day, just think how much better my baked goods will be now, thanks to my beautiful new metallic chrome KitchenAid mixer!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Emotional Purging

Sometimes it's the seemingly little things that are really the biggest things. Tonight, for example, I packed what will be Mia's last school lunch as a kindergartener. That could make me sad, but recently, I had some much-needed emotional purging (although I didn't know I was due for it at the time.)

It started out with a simple trip to the salon. I hadn't been there in, oh, about 6 months, because I was really happy with the way my hair looked. (I will swear to the ends of the earth that giving up shampoo was the single best thing I have done for my hair, and consequently for my self-esteem -- because regardless whether or not a woman is high maintenance, her hair is a huge part of how she expresses herself to the world.) I was growing it out because I thought it made me look pretty, and it made me feel younger, and I figured that if I ever got sick of it being longer than it's been in quite some time, I would just cut it and donate it...

So, why did I make that appointment for a "trim?" Well, I am insanely excited about an upcoming vacation without children!!!  (To a tropical island! Eeeeee!) I have so, so, so much to do to get ready, and I decided that I could hear my stylist in my head saying that my "ends are looking a bit skinny." Really, that's what she has told me in the past. Anyway, I figured it was best to get it shaped up before the trip, and I thought I could tick that off my to-do list quite easily.

I called the salon and scheduled a trim, and thought I was so lucky to be able to get in with my stylist (who's done my hair for almost 8 years now) the very next day. Sounds straight-forward enough. I showed up, laughed about how I heard her voice in my head worrying over my "skinny ends," and made a point of saying that I was really happy with my hair and just needed it to be cleaned up a bit. Then, I proceeded to yammer on while she did her thing. Topics of conversation included my upcoming vacation, obviously, but also some other beauty-related items of current interest to me: homemade shaving cream, homemade facial cleanser, and my general disgust with parabens. (Perhaps I need to get out more. These are kind of sad topics for general conversation, but they're pretty important to me!)

The next thing I knew, she was handing me the mirror to view the finished haircut. This was when I realized that she had taken off much more than I was anticipating, at least two or maybe three inches! (Truthfully, it's hard to gauge length since my hair is naturally curly, plus, she always manages to make it much fuller than I ever could.) Since I was somewhat it shock (How did I not realize what was happening?!) I just thanked her, paid the bill, and gave her a ten percent tip, as I normally would. Then, I went home and studiously avoided looking at myself in the mirror by taking the kids outside to play, doing yard work, and basically, pretending that I had not just lost all the hair I had been growing out for over 6 months, the hair that made me feel more attractive than I had in ages, the hair I was planning to donate... I was totally in denial.

This experience has taught me that it's actually possible to go through all five stages of grief in one day. Once I finally came back indoors, several hours later, to use the bathroom, I saw my reflection. Then, it really hit me that my hair was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. This led to some majorly-blown-out-of-proportion depression, complete with out-and-out sobbing, the kind that made me gasp for air, the kind that made me have puffy, swollen eyelids, the kind that went on much longer than it should have because each time I began to calm down, I had another irrational thought that provoked more outbursts. Part of me was disappointed in myself for crying in front of the kids (or at least for not having a "good" reason for my grief). Another part of me felt selfish and guilty for mourning my hair in the first place, considering how many people I know who have cancer and would probably love the opportunity to cry over a "bad" haircut because it would mean that they have enough hair to go to the salon and get it cut in the first place! But still, I couldn't stop crying for a good twenty minutes. Depression.

Then, I went through what must be considered the bargaining phase, essentially trying to rationalize things by constantly asking the "what if?" questions. Why didn't I pay attention to what she was doing? Why was I talking so much? I should have told her up front not to cut more than 1/4" off the length! Didn't she understand me when I said I was really happy with my hair, that I meant the length? What was I thinking making a hair appointment when I loved my hair the way it was? I should have never done that.... Now, how will I ever have enough to donate?

This led to anger. This can't be happening to me! What if my now-short-hair looks like a poof-ball on our tropical vacation? What if I can't get it up anymore? (And I just recently have been getting compliments on wearing my hair up, so I have started doing it more often.) I went upstairs, tossed my clothes aside while quickly undressing, let forth some under-my-breath screams (still not wanting to freak my kids out over this -- and Brett was wisely standing aside and letting me fight my demons), and then got into the shower. I let the hot water beat down on me for a while, soaking my odious, too short hair, and washing away most of my frustrations. Stepping out of the shower, I felt that I had purged most of the negative emotional energy, and surveying my wet locks, felt more like myself. Even if the mirror reflected my shorter hair, it at least looked a bit longer since it was wet.

After my shower, I felt enlightened. The tears were not for my hair, not really. That was just the trigger to my emotional purge, the last straw as it were. This "bad" haircut had been the conclusion to a very emotional week. I had learned that my dance teacher was injured and wouldn't be able to teach any classes until fall, so I am without an outlet for all of this stuff... Mia's first loose tooth was quite the milestone event, and then a couple days after that, we went to her "kindergarten graduation." It was so amazing to see how far she has come in the past few months! This is a lot for most people to take in, I can imagine. But for me, being so very sensitive, it makes absolute sense now that I was due for a good cry so that I could come to terms with all the big changes and then move forward. (This has historically been how I have coped with all the little mole hills building up until one seems like a giant mountain, threatening to engulf me.) As upsetting as it was, this was not about my hair. This was about my baby girl growing up. After a refreshing shower, I realized these things, and I while felt completely spent after crying, I was also relieved, physically and emotionally purged.

Did I finally achieve acceptance? Well, my hair looked more like "me" once it dried. Plus, it's bouncier and healthier looking. In truth, I didn't get a "bad" haircut after all. My stylist knows my hair better than I do, apparently. While it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, I do look good with the shorter hair style. And the stuff that really triggered the tears? Well, I can deal with that, too, just one thing at a time.


By the way, having stayed up past my bedtime tonight and blogging into tomorrow, I have now just reached my 3rd "blogiversary!" This means that it's been three years since I wrote this, (which was viewed by all of three people) and here I am still at it, wondering where to go from here... Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my thoughts! I love being able to share parts of my life in this way, and I hope that you, too, get something out of it. Sorry, no fabulous giveaways, or anything like that, but someday, perhaps, I will be able to do that sort of thing!