Top 6 Ways to Have Healthy Kids This Summer.

Now that school is out for most of us, it’s time for long days at the park, late nights, and pool parties. Time for bare feet running through the sprinklers, fresh peas out of the garden and all the wonderful things that summer brings.

Unfortunately that also means it’s ice cream, hot dog, and popsicle season.

Don’t know about you, but there seems to be an over-abundance of sweets and processed foods in my child’s life, lately. Maybe it’s just simply her getting older and having more “friends” and more activities to go to. I don’t know. But everywhere we go, there is always a cookie, or a piece of candy.

No joke.

I try not to stress it, but I do feel the need to counteract some of that by giving her plenty of healthy options when we’re at home.

I’ve learned from my Mother (who raised six healthy kids!), from my years of being a nanny, and from raising my own, that there are some simple things I can do to navigate all that junk food and keep my child healthy during the summer.

Here are the top six ways I’ve found that work.

1. Take your kids to the Farmer’s Market.  Make it fun by allowing them to pick out their “own” produce to take home. My five year old despises the grocery store, but enjoys going with me to the farmer’s market, probably for this reason.  I often tell her she can pick out any fruit or veggie that she wants, and I am just as often surprised at what she decides to “buy.” (hello, bell peppers??)

2. Make a daily smoothie. But don’t call it a smoothie! Call it a “milkshake.” I don’t know why, but it just sounds cooler to my five-year-old. Make it healthy with lots of fruit, a little almond milk, and sweeten it with banana. This is our favorite smoothie-milkshake at the moment.

3. Let them cook with you. I’ve always believed that the best way to get a child excited about healthy food, is to let them cook/make it with you! I find this to be true for veggie pizza, smoothies, pretty much everything that I make. If I make the veggie pizza, my daughter will wrinkle up her nose at the spinach, but if I cut up a bunch of veggies and let her build her own, she will put spinach on it, and eat it like a champ! EVERY TIME.

4. Make it colorful! This might seem like a no-brainer, but kids eat with their eyes first, and they LOVE color! Along with letting my daughter help me cook, I often tell her that the goal is to get as many colors of the rainbow into her milkshake, or onto her pizza. Once again, I am usually surprised at the things she chooses!

5. Set out a tray of fruits and veggies to snack on, all day. This goes along with the color thing, and is one of the easiest ways to get kids to snack on healthy food. I like to fill a muffin tin with all different kinds and colors of fruits and veggies, plus a few healthy “dips” like homemade almond butter or hummus, and then set it where my child can reach it, and let her have at it all day. It’s amazing how many are gone by the end of the day!

Top 6 Ways to Have Healthy Kids This Summer.

6. Make your own popsicles! Out of all the things you could do for your child’s health, this is probably the easiest effort to biggest payoff thing that there is. I mean, what kid doesn’t love a popsicle? And yet this is probably one of the worst offenders in the health department. Um, can we say sugar AND food coloring?? Get yourself one of these cool little sets and make your own out of fresh fruit juice, leftover smoothies, (oops, I mean milkshakes!) avocado, you name it. Throw a little honey or maple syrup in for sweetener and you’ve got yourself some healthy popsicles!

Then, be prepared to bring popsicles to the next pool party, kids birthday, picnic at the park, and pretty much ALL of your child’s summertime affairs! Not only will you be the coolest Mom around, you will know you’ve done something truly good for them in the process.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, and may we all have vibrant, healthy children this summer.

Here’s to barefeet, and loooong happy days!

 

Hippy Mamas and Heavenly Baby Wipes.

I’ve been wanting to make my own baby wipes since kingdom come. Or at least since I started having babies, five years ago!

I remember my Mom making her own (yeah, she was cool like that!) when my youngest siblings were babies. Something about the smell or the feel or the way the lightly scented bubbles poured over a freshly-folded stack of paper towels when she made them, stands out to me.

There was such a simple pureness to the way that she cared for us and the way that she kept her home, and making her own baby wipes was only another expression of that. She made them with the same ease and grace with which she baked bread and hung out the laundry.

It wasn’t a big deal.

It was just something that she did effortlessly, because it made more sense to her than buying them.

Now, as the primary keeper of our home, I appreciate that pureness so much and I find myself continually wanting to replicate my Mother’s grace in that way. I’m a far cry from it, but somehow I feel a little closer when I bake my own bread and make my own baby wipes.

Last week, I managed to do the latter. And boy did I love it! I felt like such an accomplished earth Mama, making my own “Huggies.” Bread’s still on the list, but hey. At least “we’re” clean. And “we” smell good!

Now that I’ve finally made some, I wonder what took me so long??!! I mean, five years of wiping baby butts, spaghetti fingers, and milk mouths before I finally made this most essential, life-sustaining, can’t-live-without-it household item?

When it was really THAT SIMPLE all along??

And yes, they are that simple. The main work is in gathering all your ingredients. I ordered most of mine from vitacost. And of course, my oils come from Doterra. All I needed at the store was a roll of high-quality paper towels, which I grabbed on my regular grocery run, so they didn’t even require an extra trip out!

(Major bonus points when you’ve got a heavy-ass car seat and a sleeping baby to lug around, right??!)

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Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, start by cutting your paper towels in half.

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Like this.

Or not!

I don’t think I used the right kind of knife, cuz there was definitely some hacking involved, and my paper towels ended up pretty butchered. Suffice it to say, this step was a little more messy than I envisioned it to be (think: sharp, serrated edge of a knife blazing clean through a loaf of soft bread!)

Yeah. Not so much.

But I can make a mess out of just about anything! So don’t mind me.

Mix up all your liquids, til they’re nice and bubbly.

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Then, take a moment to enjoy those bubbles. Feel accomplished, for they are the purest, sweetest, organic-est bubbles you could possibly put on your baby’s skin. You could actually eat them. They’re that pure. Which is how they SHOULD BE!

Ahem, FDA. Ya might wanna take a hint here.

And now…Ruthie’s schpiel about commercial baby wipes.

Sorry! But I must go there for a minute.

You probably already know how horrible they are for your baby’s skin, so I will keep this short.

DMDM Hydantoin and Methylparaben.

Google them and then remember that they are the main ingredients in your Huggies. Remember them when you are swiping the spaghetti off that little punkin face. And when your baby “eats” one of them.

If you want to be horrified any further, check out this article about another main ingredient: Tetrasodium EDTA. Comforting, I know. But! Somebody needs to say it. And somebody needs to hold someone accountable for the poison that freely lines our grocery store shelves. In the BABY section, no less!

Today, I will be that somebody. Especially since I now know you can make perfectly good baby wipes with aloe vera and water. WATER, people! Good old H20!

Why put that toxic crap in our baby products?

WHHHYYYYYYYY?????

Ok, schpiel over.

Back to the pureness. And the bubbles.

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All you do is pour the liquid bubbles over your paper towels and boom! You have wipes! Good, clean, chemical-free wipes for the whole family, including the smallest and the purest of them.

These things smell so heavenly, I want to lay in them and have more babies. Ok, not really.

(You’re done, Ruthie, remember?? No more babies for you! Repeat: NO. MORE. BABIES.)

I DO still want to lay in them. And soak my feet in them. Then I want to place them over my eyes and go back to sleep.

Yes, it’s 8:00 in the morning. I am nursing an infant. Need I say more??!!

Tomorrow I will be leaving my babies for a conference in San Diego, but you can be sure I will be taking my baby wipes with me! And you can be sure I will be shameless in using them!

On the plane. In the car. At the beach. (Whoo hoo!!)  I will be pulling these out whenever I need a “wipe” down.

But really, when they feel and smell as amazing as these do, how can you keep from using them on yourself? When they’re as heavenly as these, how can you restrict yourself to only using them on your baby’s bottom?

Not here! And not me.

I, like my Mother, am of the simple belief that “baby” wipes are made for everything. Washing apples. Removing makeup. Wiping steering wheels. Coffee spills. Phone screens. Smooshed fruit. Public restrooms. You know…

EVERYTHING.

What about you? What do you use “baby” wipes for?

Do you use them a thousand times a day, like I do?

Regardless of how, why, or when you use them, you will love these homemade wipes! You’ll be happy knowing you’re not spreading weird chemicals like tetrasodium and methylparaben around.

And something tells me you won’t go back to Huggies. Ever again!

Print Recipe

Homemade Baby Wipes

These are super easy to make, they smell amazing and feel so soft against your baby’s skin, you will never go back to storebought wipes!

Ingredients

  • 1 roll heavy duty paper towels (such as Viva)
  • 2 plastic containers that fit one half roll of paper towels each
  • 1 3/4 cups boiled, purified, or distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon pure aloe vera
  • 1 tablespoon rose petal witch hazel (alcohol-free)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap (I made my own by pouring nine cups of boiling water over a solid bar of castile soap.)
  • 2 teaspoons virgin sweet almond oil
  • 4 drops each of lavender, thyme, and wild orange essential oils  (Doterra brand is best!)

Directions

  1. Mix all liquid ingredients together. Cut paper towel roll in half. Pull out cardboard tubing. Place a half roll in your plastic container and pour liquid soap mixture over until it is fully wet.
  2. Squeeze out extra moisture. Pull the inside end up through the middle of the roll.
  3. Repeat with second half of paper towels.
  4. Store in an airtight container and use for up to two weeks.
  5. Note: If you want to prolong the life of your wipes, add a few drops of colloidal silver or grapefruit seed extract to your soap mixture.

Amount Per Serving

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For more information about what’s actually in baby wipes:

http://www.muchadoaboutmoms.com/index.php/the-great-wipe-down/

Happy Little Finds: Festival Treasures.

I love Sundays. It’s the one day when we are almost always together-just the three of us. The Beanstalk, Huzbun, and Me.

Yesterday was no exception. We sorta made a day of it at the New West Fest which took place here in town. I had heard about it a few weeks ago, and thought perhaps it would be fun, but then I got caught up in cleaning my house and freezing raspberries and completely forgot about it.

Until Saturday night, when we went to Old Town for other reasons, and noticed that there were ninety one thousand extra cars, people and bikes converging upon the streets. Ari, of course only noticed that there were “rides” happening. She begged to go on one, but it was getting late and my feet and my brain cells were practically dysfunctional at the time.

Somehow (don’t ask!!) her daddy and I convinced her to wait till “tomorrow.” There may or may not have been some bribing involved. But hey. It worked!

And we were all better and happier the next day, when we braved the crowds and strolled around the colorful tents of this local bazaar.

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New West Fest, as it is affectionately referred to by the dazed out, not-yet-acclamated tourists who converge upon this mile-high land, is in essence a “fair” for all ages.

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It’s basically a gigantic annual festival that causes bazillions of people, children and dogs to descend upon the small town of Fort Collins for three solid days of corn dogs and sunburns and henna tattoos.

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Oh, and rides! How could we forget the rides??!!

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Beanstalk spotted them about as quickly as I spotted these whimsical little wonders.

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And these.

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Check out the vibrant colors of these beads! Goodness gracious. I stopped a while to talk to the wonderful ladies at this booth and discovered that not only are these handmade and beautiful, they are supporting a really great cause. The proceeds go to impoverished village women of Uganda who make the beads completely out of recycled paper.

How cool is that?

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Well, cool enough to buy this pair of earrings from them. Or at least I thought so. I couldn’t help myself! You put brightly colored accessories and a good cause together, and I’m done. Sold!

(Btw, if you want more info on this jewelry or the cause behind it, check out their website at: www.biggerthanbeads.com. Such a great find!)

And then to my even bigger surprise, right around the corner, I found these creations, made by my friend Christin! I had no idea she was going to be there with her handmade glass bottle trays, but I have been wanting to see her offerings and buy from her.

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Isn’t that just meant to be??

Look at how unique and pretty these are! Not to mention, practical, too!

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I could hardly pick which ones I wanted, but I finally decided upon this green, double-serving tray.

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And this amber-colored root beer tray.

I was so excited, I whipped out some cash and went to pay but my friend refused. She insisted upon giving them to me, free of charge! She would not let me pay!

How stinkin’ generous she is!

So I walked away with, not one, but two! of these amazing sparkly glass pieces and a humble heart of thanks for friends like Christin.

Needless to say, I got a little lost in the moment. I momentarily got caught up in the maze of bright and glittery objects, while John and Ari went on to look at other things. You gotta watch me, like that.

But eventuallly I caught up with the rest of my clan and we walked and played and ate junk food together.

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Of course we had to stop and get Beanstalk’s arm decorated with a pink n white horse. Cuz that’s what you do at the fair-I-mean-festival, right?!!

We stopped to watch a few dancers and then finished off the afternoon with a few more “rides.”

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“We” as in John and Ari. I, consequently plunked my very pregnant self and all our bags in the grass nearby and waved at my daughter as she whirled by, in all manner of ladybugs and pink cars.

It was a great day.

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And when we came home, I immediately found a good use for the glass serving trays I had non-purchased from my friend, Christin.

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Turns out they look even more splendid when they’re holding fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden.

Who knew??!!

NOTE: If you want to see more of Christin’s creations or to own one of these beauties yourself, please visit her website at: www.simpleyetsassy.etsy.com.

Peace an blessins!

Happy Little Finds: Lavender in My Mailbox!

What could be better than a happy little surprise landing in the middle of your otherwise ordinary day? Um….when that surprise comes in your mailbox, of course!

The other day I received one such happy surprise, in the form of a cardboard box filled with all kinds of natural, herb-y things from two of my dear friends in Tennessee. It made me so happy, I cried. (Seems to happen a lot these days!)

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I opened the box to the wonderful aroma of dried lavendar and chamomile and rose petals, and found big bags of rosemary and red raspberry leaves inside. I was in herb heaven as I pulled out one scented bag after another, dunked my head in and inhaled each one.

It didn’t take me long to realize that all of this herb-y goodness was coming from The Bulk Herb Store in Lobelville, Tn. I have heard a lot of good things about them, and I’ve been a long-time fan of their blog, as it is one of the most practical guides to herbs and natural remedies that I’ve seen. But I had never actually ordered anything from their store.

Now, my girlfriends had done the unthinkable and sent me their “New Mama and Baby Kit.”

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And I couldn’t be more impressed! Everything from chamomile tea to baby bath to an ample sized tin of Eden Salve, and a pretty little notecard, they thought of it all. There was even some arrowroot powder to make my own baby powder! How “crunchy” cool is that??!!

So…here’s a massive thank you to my friends, Andrea and Heather, for such a wonderful surprise, and a shout-out to the Bulk Herb Store for providing me with such a blissful and aromatic way to prepare for the birth of my baby.

I currently have the dried rose petal and rosemary mixture brewing on my stove. And I can’t wait to make all kinds of fabulous creations from the lavendar flowers.

Aaaah. I’m blissed out and ready.

Happy Little Finds: A Pile of Pink Clothes.

It’s been a week of piles. Piles of laundry. Piles of needs. Piles of junk building up in the car. Piles of goals to meet and messages to respond to. Piles of frustration and running and plopping into bed every night, exhausted.

Piles of spilled milk and inside-out clothes to sort. Piles of problems and reasons not to be thankful.

Piles and piles and piles.

They required more of me than usual. Huzbun was working sixteen hour days and Beanstalk was extra needy and this Mama was extra tired.

I was so relieved, midweek, when my friend Ani offered to take my dear needy one for a few hours, so I could run some errands in peace and quiet. She has a four-year-old and she just had a baby. And yet she insisted that I bring my girl-child over to play with hers, while I get a break.

God bless her.

She must have seen that desperate look on my face when she came over earlier for a playdate at my house. She must have noticed. How I couldn’t bend down to pick up one more crayon or lift one more bag of groceries off the floor. She must have heard the quiet gasps for air.

So I dropped my beautiful Beanstalk at her house and I set off to get groceries and make returns and clean out the car, aka the mini-van. I did all that and even got to read and chat with my sister for over an hr, uninterrupted. It was beautiful and just what I needed.

When I came back, Ani smiled and handed me my happy daughter, plus two bags of pink clothes and shoes. They were clothes that her daughter had outgrown, and since mine is a few sizes smaller than hers, she gave them to us, to wear and to love.

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We came home, plunked the bags down and Ari proceeded to pull out every imaginable piece of clothing she had recently wanted or asked for.  There were LONG, flowy skirts (that twirl!!), princess jammies, and sparkly shoes! All of which either fit her perfectly or ones that she will grow into shortly. She oohed and aahed as she ripped them from the bags, held each one up and then heaped them into a pile on the floor.

I was so delighted I hardly noticed that it was becoming yet another pile in my life. It was such a nice surprise in my week to not only have a free afternoon, but to come home with a bunch of free clothes, all I could do was to say thanks for this one.

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I thought about how often my daughter had recently asked for sparkly shoes or dreamed of princesses and their long, twirly dresses. I had either been too practical and felt she didn’t need them, or just simply too tired to go shopping for such things.

Her eyes danced with joy as she tried on at least three twirly skirts and two princess jammies, ALL at once. And mine welled up with tears.

I realized then what a blessing this pile or any other pile really is. How they speak to the abundance of my life and assure me that I have plenty, that we have more than enough.

It reminded that we also have “piles” to give away and how much that might mean to someone else.

It might mean the world to a tired Mama, or to a little girl’s happiness, to pass your child’s clothes on to another.

What might be just a pile of used clothes to one, might be a pile of “dreams come true” for someone else.

And so we are thankful. Not only for this pile, but for the one that’s still dirty, that never made it to the washer. We are grateful, because not only do we have plenty of clothes to wear, we now have even more to pass on, later.

Happy Little Finds. An Exciting New Series!

This whole blog thing started out as a creative outlet for me to express my dreams, meditations, and ideas. It’s been so much fun to bring you along and to watch it grow into something more. More of a community. More of a global coffee shop. More you and me, coming together with ideas on how to change our world, our health, and our lives.

I am loving it all! I love the e-mails, messages, and comments. I love the friendship and the bonding that is happening with followers and fellow bloggers.

I have sincerely enjoyed sharing “my journey to health” with you, even with all of the deep and dark soul searching it has evoked in me, and apparently in some of you as well. It’s been amazing, and I look forward to a few more weeks of that series.

However. As much as I love what it has become lately, I feel the need to change it up a little and have some MORE FUN around here. It’s time to put the “happy” back into this blog!

So…after listening to your feedback and your interests, I’ve decided to start another weekly column (I just can’t get enough of this place!) which will highlight some the small things that I discover on an everyday basis that bring me happiness. I am going to call it “Happy Little Finds.”

It will be interactive and spontaneous and will certainly bring more fun back to this blog!

Here’s what I’d like for you to do: tell me what you’re finding that makes you happy! It could be a saying, a picture, a quote, a re-purposed door knob, a purchase, or a new-found passion. E-mail, or send a message on facebook with your “finds” and then, at least once a month, I will feature them in a post here.

I am so excited about this series, I am starting it today!

Recently I have been going through boxes and getting rid of things I no longer need, such as my four-year-old daughter’s “baby” clothes. I had previously hung onto them, for mostly obvious reasons, but now that we are having a boy, it’s high time to let them go.

I have to admit I’ve been more sentimental than I thought I would be. Something about those tiny pink shoes that just hold so many wonderful memories and happy moments. Something about the smell of those satin blankets that take me straight back to those early days of my daughter’s life.

Nevertheless, it’s time to move on. It’s time to embrace the new and the present and the bundle of blue that’s coming!

Yard sales help me do that best. They provide a big, grand release of old stuff that no longer serves me. A cleansing, of sorts. They clear my head of the clutter that tends to build in our garage, and they help to simplify my life. Not to mention, someone else gets something they WANT, for a great deal!

I had one on Saturday. And I already feel so much better.

The side beauty of it all, is that I find some really cool things I have either been looking for, or had packed away and forgotten about.

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Like this fancy vintage number that my Mom gave to me, several years ago. She knew how much I adored the details and the size of this saucepan, and decided that I should have it for my own. Isn’t it glorious??

I instantly became happy when I pulled it out of the rubbermaid tote it had been hiding in for the past two years. I got even happier when I used it to make our oatmeal this morning. It was extra good, coming from this pretty little thing.

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And then I found this! Such a cute mini crock, I feel I must find something to put in it. Sugar for our coffee, perhaps? Or as a planter for some ivy?

One of the great things about getting rid of stuff, is it makes room for items you really love. The things you REALLY want.

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Like this french door from the next-door neighbor’s pile of stuff. I have beeen wanting a door like this to put in my garden-themed guest room. It was propped up against her side of the fence for a few days before I finally inquired about it. And to my great delight, she told me I could have it, in exchange for some empty totes.

Now it’s propped up against my side of the fence. (Don’t you just LOVE when that happens??!!) Like a canvas of wonderous character, just waiting for my touch. A few strokes of the paintbrush, perhaps? Put some artwork in the windows and you’ve got yourself a treasure for years to come.

Oh…there’s so much more! My life is full of these kinds of gifts and discoveries, and I imagine, so is yours. I can’t wait to share more of them with you and to celebrate your “finds” here on this blog!

(Check back every Monday for more “Happy Little Finds.”)

On Dyeing Eggs. And Coming Alive!

I’m almost ready for Easter, now that I’ve cleared out the leftover Valentine’s paraphinilia, brought some greens in, thought about planting seeds, gotten my life back, and then got buried in seven inches of snow. Ok, so maybe not quite ready for Easter, but I’m definitely ready for Spring!

Ready for baby chicks and robin eggs and the color green.

I love to watch the earth come alive this time of the year. And I love that we have a holiday that celebrates life, resurrection, and hope, in the middle of it. I am a believer in all of those things.

Even though it’s one of my favorite holidays, I haven’t done much to celebrate it in the past few years, other than what I would normally do: go to church and worship, then have dinner with friends or family afterward.

It somehow slips by me, every year! Seems like I’m either six weeks pregnant, or moving, or just moved, or my kitchen is being renovated…or something.

Last year, we had just moved across the country, but I managed to make these little babies and bring them to Easter dinner at my Mom’s. I got the idea from here: http://bigsislilsis.com/2010/03/31/easter-birds-nest-candy/ and tweaked the recipe a bit, but they were still super easy and they were a total hit with the kids!

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This time however, I wanted to do more. Not that much, but just…well, color some eggs. Real Easter eggs.

I’ve been wanting to dye eggs since I was a half-grown child and I’ve decided that this year, I would make it happen, Easter or not. Those of you who know me, know that I adore eggs, in any form. Not as in, eating them. But as in, admiring them.

Their delicate design speaks to me of birth and hope and new beginnings. The cycle of life. I like them in nests, surrounded by feathers, hidden in branches, large, small, fake, real, speckled, blue, green, and brown.

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They make me want to be a bird, just so I can sit on my little nest all day, and chirp when it’s time for my lover to bring me some food. I mean…wouldn’t that be a grand life?!

Ok, so maybe I have some weird fantasies, but…seriously. If you are a mother, you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound at least a little appealing, at times.

Anyway, I got my twenty-year old wish the other day: I got to be a child again and color some eggs! And I got to do it, with who else, but some of my favorite little people: my daughter, and my sister’s kids.

I mixed up a bunch of colors in glass pint jars and took them up to my sister’s house, along with some aprons, and a big pot of vegetable soup. She was getting company the next day, so I wanted the clean-up to be as easy as possible, and keep the aftermath to a minimum for her.

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I got the jar idea from Sherelle Christensen at: http://sherellechristensen.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/04/dyeing-easter-eggs.html  and it worked beautifully.

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Somewhere on pinterest I had seen the idea to use a whisk for dipping the eggs into the dye. That worked pretty well, except that it’s a bit difficult getting the drippy wet eggs out of the whisk, without getting color all over your hands (or your kids’s!), which is exactly what we were trying to avoid. I still prefer to use a spoon.

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It quickly became a family affair, when my Mom, Huzbun, and sisters all joined in, helping and watching the kids with their creations. Even their neighbor, Logan, got in on the action!

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Some got fancy and double dipped them to make multi-colored eggs. I got fancy and wrapped mine in various ribbon and laces, to add some texture.

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This little guy got fancy and splashed most of his color onto his surroundings…

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And others were a bit more serious about it.:)

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But we all had a blast!

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And the eggs turned out gorgeous. Just look at these colors!

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I had such a great time doing this, I think we might make it a yearly tradition. Unless, of course, I’m six weeks pregnant. Or moving. Or renovating…

Aahh.

Not only was it a super-fun family event, but it fulfilled a long-time desire for me. I am happy. I feel satisfied.

And now, bring on Easter. Bring on Spring!