We got dogs!

I always had a dog growing up. My dad had always had a dog growing up. I’m pretty sure his dad had one, too. We wanted our kids to have dogs, too. And so we did. We had the most patient, sweet, loving golden retriever a handful of kids could ask for. But all the while we had her, our youngest two kiddos would regularly have their head colds move into their chest and we would invariably have to take them to the hospital for croup. Turns out, they are allergic to dogs. This allergy was effecting their lungs, which meant that their lungs were always irritated, so when they got sick, it didn’t take much for their lungs to start to have issues. Our pup passed away around the same time we found out, so we chose to forgo adding a new one to our family.

Well, after 3 years of allergy shots, and 3 years of seemingly daily requests, pleas, and “I wish we had a dog” comments, we were cleared by our allergist to get a dog, with caveats. The dog needed to be hypoallergenic. They’re still allergic to dogs, just the reaction they have to dogs is minimal. So we need to be able to have as little shedding as possible. We started looking for dogs. Specifically poodle mixes, schnauzer mixes, or we would need a dog that we would have to groom very regularly. Did you know that those poodle mix puppies start off around $5,000?!?! Those people are making a killing!

We changed tactics and started looking at our local adoption sites, specifically the Denver Dumb Friends League. We were having a hard time justifying paying out the nose for a puppy. Why not find a dog that needed a second chance. After months of searching, we found two beautiful doodle-mix dogs that needed their second home. I don’t know why these dogs needed to find a new home, but I’m glad they have their home with us.

That doesn’t mean things have been easy. J, a bernedoodle, has Happy Tail. This means that the tip of his tail was injured, and when he wags it, specifically against something solid, like the chairs, walls, doors, stair railings (I’m believing to think we don’t have anything soft in our house!) it breaks open again and starts to bleed. Now, I am here to tell you that a dog’s tail does not contain a small amount of blood. This tail contains enough blood that my house looks like a murder scene after he’s whacked it open. OMG! And this dog isn’t short, so it’s not just blood from the knees down. There are spots of blood on the walls higher than my head. And he’s not just standing there in one spot wagging his tail. He’s prancing around the house in all his happy glory. And it’s not just once a day that he’s happy it’s all the live long day! Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s happy, but Old Faithful doesn’t produce as much or as often as this dog’s tail!

Unfortunately, the cure for Happy Tail is an amputation. Thankfully, the good vets at Denver Dumb Friends League recognized the issue, the severity of it (there was already some necrosis of the tail) and have the ability to do the surgery. We’re looking forward to continuing our adventure with J and B (a golden doodle), but hopefully with significantly less blood on our walls, windows, floors, couches…

J and B, our newest family members

I made a sweater!

I have been knitting since my mother-in-law taught me how almost 15 years ago. I love all the different stitches that you can do. I had always wanted to make a sweater but the idea of making one was, well let’s say I didn’t want to screw it up, and I wasn’t confident enough in my skills to not screw it up. I had looked at various patterns to find the no-fail-anyone-can-do-it-yes-even-you patterns and just never made the leap. Then, Purl Soho had a knit-along for their Lightweight Raglan Pullover Sweater and I thought, well if they’re doing a knit-along it’s sure to be no-fail!

Lightweight Raglan Pullover by Purl Soho

My sweater even (mostly) turned out exactly the way it was suppose to! So, kudos to them for creating a pattern that even a Nervous Nelly like me could knit up! I’m pretty sure the only mistake I made was that I missed a decrease in the yoke, so the neck is a little wider than it’s supposed to be. With the off the shoulder tops being trendy for the time being, I’m okay with it, though.

I used Juniper Moon’s Moonshine yarn in Twilight to make this sweater. It’s incredibly soft, holds its shape with a little bit of drape, and is just all around beautiful. I made this sweater for my oldest daughter. I also bought enough skeins in their color Dew to make myself a sweater. Have I completed that sweater? No, not yet, but, I’m so close to being done!

After making the first sweater I knew I was going to make another sweater, but not yet because good grief knitting those sleeves is enough to make you dizzy! I’ve never been a huge fan of knitting on double pointed needles. I usually get just a little extra smidgeon of space in between each of these needles no mater how tight I make the stitches. Using the magic loop is definitely magical, but not for sleeves that are miles long! So I knew I wanted to make something flat before I made the next sweater.

Waiting was definitely worth the wait! I saw this beautiful Slavyanka Sweater created by the ever talented Lyudmila Aksenik. I had most of a skein left from making the purple sweater, and I knew this was the sweater I had to make. The pattern is super easy to follow, complete with various manipulations if you so desire. So with the confidence I had gained from making the first sweater, I set about making this sweater.

Slavyanka Sweater by Lyudmila Akaenik

It has taken me significantly longer to make this second sweater, and I’m okay with that. I’ve been using it as my swimming sweater. Let me explain – I’ve only been working on the sweater while I’m at a swim practice or competition. Needless to say this sweater has been all over Colorado! Because I’ve been consistently working on it (we have a swimming something almost every day) I am super close to being done. Taking it to a swim meet really helps the progress. I have about 80 more rows of the last sleeve to go. It might be the middle of summer when I finish it, but by golly I’m going to wear it!

My Slavyanka Sweater. I’m almost done!

It has been really interesting to make these sweaters. It was extremely tempting to give up on the sleeves and just make them short sleeve sweaters, but I also knew I would always associate the sleeves with quitting, and I hate quitting. Now that I can’t go back and make the sleeves shorter, I’m super tempted to make yet another sweater with shorter sleeves. We have nice spring and fall seasons here, and wearing a short sleeve sweater is pretty normal. And I have plenty of yarn in my stash to make another sweater. So many ideas!

Update – It’s been a while!

My oldest was looking me up online when she came across this site. “Wow, Mom! You have a blog?” After perusing through the posts she asked why I didn’t do it anymore. Well, crap, kid, shit got crazy! In the last few years we’ve started piano and cellos lessons, started drum lessons, started year round swim team, I got a full time job, the kids have started turning into teenagers (OMG!!), continued playing with yarn, traveled, volunteered, had surgery, and, and, and… Oh! And I started reading again.

So, at her behest, here I am again. That rings of a song, but I couldn’t tell you which one.

music, athletics, and school

When the kids were super young we inherited my great-grandmother’s piano. It was brought to us from California on the back of a moving truck. It was out of tune, had 4 broken keys, and a missing mirror. My kids loved it! The kids who come over for our potlucks loved it. My niblings (yes, it’s a word. Look it up!) loved it. After many years of “music” our middle kiddo decided she wanted to learn for real. A few years later she took up the cello, so she could sit while she played in orchestra, and has been madly in love with both instruments.
Our oldest has always loved music. She would pause in the middle of a homework problem, conversation, or other random time to hand wave through part of a song. I’m not sure how I made the connection but I asked her if she wanted to learn drums. It was a hit!
Not to be left out, the hubs decided he also wanted to learn the piano, so he’s been teaching himself, with the help of the middle kiddo, to play various songs on the piano. Needless to say, the house is full of music!
I don’t play anymore, I just shuttle and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We’ve always encouraged the kids to do athletic stuff, but never forced it on them. Whatever they wanted to try we would sign them up, and after 3-9 months they would ask to try something else. Never a big deal, we want them to do what they will enjoy. This year they have decided to do soccer (1 kid), swim team (2 kids), self defense (2 kids), and ballet (1 kid). Currently we’re still trying to figure out working the self defense and ballet into the schedule. It’s a little full.
I’m also hesitantly looking forward to playing softball again. I had surgery done on my rotator cuff and labrum almost a year and a half ago. I’ve been working on strengthening it and keeping active with it and I think I’m ready to throw something heavier than a tennis ball. Imagine if I am suddenly able to throw like the kid in that one movie, hold on let me go find it… oh yeah, Rookie of the Year! That would be hilarious!

In January of 2022 I took a full stack bootcamp. It was probably the most difficult 3 months of school I have ever done in my entire life, and that includes high school chemistry. Learning new things has always come pretty easy to me. This was not easy. It wasn’t impossible, but it was definitely not easy. My sister laughed at me while we were talking about it one day. She said it was always irritating when I didn’t struggle over something, so while she felt bad that this was tough, she also felt I deserved to suffer. Gotta love those sisters!
It was because of this class that I got my job, ironically enough, not because of my coding skills. I got the job because I had the push and drive to learn, and to get good at what I was learning. Needless to say I am loving it! I have always loved creating and learning new things, and this way I get t to do both.

Needless to say, things have been crazy, but they’ve been wonderful, and my heart is filled with joy. I hope, dear reader, things have gotten better for you in the last few years. I hope you have had something to make you stronger, something to make you smile, and something that lifts your heart.

In the Last 12 Months

I think we can all say “holy shit! what a year this has been!” and it doesn’t matter what your year looked like, it will be an accurate statement. For some of you, life has brought wonderful changes, and for some of you life has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, and lets be honest, for some of you it’s been mostly downs. We’ve been in the middle. We had two new jobs, a move, ailing parents, healing parents, an accidental death, and tremendous growth, along with a few injuries, in our kids.

It’s easy to find the downs. They stick out like a sore thumb. Pain, misery, and feelings of defeat all blast their obnoxious airhorns making it difficult to look around them, or to even forget them. We don’t like feeling this way, so for whatever reason, our minds focus the most on them as a way of saying “hey, don’t do this any more!”

It takes focus to find the big positives, and even more looking and concentration to find the little positives. We’re not trained to find them, we’re trained to avoid the pain, so that’s what we remember. Worst of all, is that we’re sarcastic and grouchy towards our positives. We diminish them for a variety of reasons. Maybe they weren’t the absolute most perfect thing in the whole world (seriously, give that crap a break. Nothing is perfect so just don’t even go there!) or maybe something could have gone slightly better. But in reality, you’re letting the negatives overtake the actual positive.

Anecdotal time: My husband interviewed for a new job, at the same time that I was interviewing for a new job. I was miserable because I readily agreed to a terrible starting wage instead of negotiating to what I am actually worth. The Hubs, who is our bread winner and has been working and gaining negotiating experience the whole time I have been momming made the exact same mistake. While the past is set in stone, our future possibilities are not. Just because we didn’t ask for the wages we wanted at the time, doesn’t mean we can’t go in later in the interview process and ask for them. And it doesn’t mean that we let the bummer of not asking for the appropriate wages at the time diminish the fact that we got a job interview!

The whole point is, find the positives, and don’t let the negatives dim the light that they shine on you. A really easy way to do this is to start a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be a fancy-shmancy journal listed for sale. You just need a notebook. In that notebook, you’re going to write down three things. The first thing you’re going to write down is what you accomplished today. I found it a lot easier to write down accomplishments as I went about my day. When I was in a grumpy mood at the end of the evening because dinner and bedtime had gone to shit, I had a really hard time finding things that I had accomplished. So if you need to, write those things down in the moment. No matter how small. They matter – all of them!

Next you’re going to write down 3 things you are grateful for. And you don’t want to write the same three things day after day, so make sure you’re looking for the little stuff that you are grateful for, too. This can also be done in the moment, or you can do it at the end of your day. You will find that you are grateful for different things as your day goes on. And you are welcome to find more than 3 things, but if you write them all down now, then when you’re looking for something new to write down tomorrow, you might find it a little difficult. The things you are grateful for can be anything, from the biggest big, to the smallest small.

Finally you’re going to write down 3 things you want to accomplish tomorrow. And again, these can be small, or they can be big. Are you going to put world peace down as an accomplishment? No, of course not. But you are going to put something that you can do, like a load of laundry, or pick up the living room, or scrub the toilet. Maybe you want to start writing a book – Your goal is to write a few words towards your book. Want to start working out? Your goal is to do 5 squats, or 5 pushups, or 5 sit-ups. Take that first step towards what you want to do. Want to run a mile? Well you can’t do that without taking the first step. Easy stuff, smart stuff – not unobtainable stuff because whose side are you on? Yours! And who are you cheering for? You! So make sure it’s stuff you can do so that you can find, and feel the positives as you look back on your day. And honestly, I have absolutely cheated and written down something I knew I was already going to do (like give a ride to a friend) and wrote that down. It’s still something that I wanted to accomplish, and it was absolutely something that was going to help a friend out, which also made me feel good about doing it.

So go out there my friends and find your positives. Write them down so it’s easier to remember them. Don’t let the negatives rule, because it’s the positives that push us forward

Pumpkin Pie Spice

I use pumpkin pie spice regularly, and for things not pie related like homemade granola, and DIY play dough. It’s never sold in large quantities, so you almost always need to run to the store to get some, or look up online how to make some because you rarely have enough. Frequently when you look it up online it gives you quantities to make enough pumpkin spice to kill a reindeer. While this is great for people who use it on everything, not very many people need that much. I don’t really feel the need to hinder Santa’s delivery service, so I am giving you the quantities needed to make just 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. It’s a teeny bit more than 1 tablespoon, but this gets you all of the spices needed to make it delicious and perfect.

One Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

Never fear, I will also give you the quantities to make 5 tablespoons in case you decide to uphold your grudge against Santa for not giving you the gift you wanted that one time.

Five Tablespoons of Pumpkin Spice

  • 3 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons Ginger
  • 2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

Happy Making!

Recipe by Picture

If your kids are anything like my kids they really, and I mean really, love baking. They particularly love it when I’m in the middle of a project and can’t help them. Much to each of our dismay.

My youngest’s all time favorite recipe is chocolate chip cookies. My oldest loves the breads, particularly zucchini or banana bread. My middle adores eating what the other two make. It works out well all around.

In an effort to encourage their self resilience and allow me to finish my projects without regular interruptions I created picture recipes that they could follow, based off actual recipes. I made the directions super simple, fidgeted with the ingredients so that there aren’t any wonky portions, and put almost everything in pictures. While this takes the finesse of baking out, it makes it easy enough that my 7 year old can create cookies or bread.

Granted, there are still some oopses and learning mistakes, but they don’t need my help nearly as much as if they were following a written recipe. One of the funniest oops so far was when they decided they weren’t patient enough to make all the cookies and turned a batch of dough for 60 cookies into 24 cookies. I realized then that the attention span for 60 cookies might have been a bit much. I kept the recipe size the same, but told them that it should fill up a cookie sheet 3 times. As you can see, putting that much dough into so little cookies wasn’t really a big deal.

To help them determine how big the cookie drop should be, and where they should place it, we have these very nifty cookie sheet baking mats by Miu. They come with circles places evenly around the mat so it’s easy to see where the cookie dough should go and, assuming the drop of dough isn’t too large, they shouldn’t run into each other.

To create the chocolate chip cookies recipe, I took the basic Nestle Tollhouse recipe, adjusted for high altitude, and cut the recipe to 1 cup of chocolate chips. As much as we love chocolate, we wanted to taste the cookie bits, too. I’ve created a download for the chocolate chip recipe, and will be adding the banana bread recipe shortly. Until then, enjoy the chocolate chip recipe! *remember, this is adjusted for high altitude*

It’s Tough

Here’s what I screwed up today: I failed at calmly teaching my kid about fractions and we both wound up in tears, yelling, and interrupting my husbands call with one of the head people at his company (notice all 3 failures there). I tried to make bread and screwed it up twice – the first was that I used an entire packet of yeast in stead of 1/4 tsp because I misread the label and thought that the whole packet was 1/4 tsp, not that 1/4 tsp was the serving amount and that there were actually 24 quarter teaspoons. The second is that I used wax paper to let the bread rise the second time instead of parchment paper and it stuck like glue in carpet. I also messed up the last of the knitting project I was working on. And mind you, I’m writing this at 10 am and this was all today.

Now here is the absolute toughest part – not letting this bother me, and continuing to move on about my day. I really, really suck at this part. I tend to hold on to my feelings of failure and let it bother me for the rest of the day. I try hard, and when I fail at letting the emotions go, I feel even more like a failure and it’s a gigantic snowball of feeling like crap. And then once I start to feel this way it’s even easier to find myself falling into bad eating habits (read chocolate and other junk food), losing my patience even faster at my kids, feeling terrible about my health choices, and all the other things that I feel terrible about comes boiling up to the surface. It’s a really good way to be completely miserable.

How do you go about feeling better? Well, once I’ve beaten myself up for the day, sometimes two days, I finally kick myself hard enough in the ass to get a grip and get back into routine. There are a couple good fast ways to start to feel better. The first is to do a quick brisk walk outside. Not everybody has this option, especially if you’ve got small kiddos at home. If you can do a quick workout that helps, too. You don’t need to change into workout clothes, just pop a couple moves out really fast and take a couple minute pause. Find a counter and do 5-10 leaning pushups, do a 30-second to 1-minute wall sit, and do a couple of squats. Super simple, or maybe not, but keep doing it and it will get easier. If you have the time get a quick cry out of the way so you can bust out those feelings, and then go wash your face so you can get back to it. A lot of times those burst of emotions just need to get out.

If you have a little bit more time then do a full work out and then take a shower. Or just take a shower. Not a bath where you can languish in your misery, a shower. Make it as hot or cold as you like, but get a good shower in – you can also use this time to cry but the shower and fresh clean start is important. This also gives you the time to think of alternative solutions and fresh ideas to help you with whatever problem you are facing. But don’t go off the deep end and make your problem worse by thinking of extreme, unfulfillable solutions.

Take this opportunity, no matter how small it is, to start over. It won’t be a completely fresh start, it won’t be a total do-over, but it is a new beginning. Grab this new beginning and do your best. The emphasis here is best, not be perfect. Nobody is perfect, nobody will be perfect, and holding yourself to that standard is only going to make you feel worse when you don’t accomplish what you feel is perfect. So just stop. Lower that standard to best and you won’t be nearly as miserable when what you accomplish is incredible in other people’s eyes, but not perfect in your own. Let that shit go.

Now go take your moment to acknowledge that you feel like crap, wash your face, and do your best for the moment. You got this!

Schedule Your Kiddos

Three weeks of spring break with no expectations of schooling, scheduling, or outside activities. If you’re like me, you had a mild panic attack. This was like summer break, but without the summer, the break, or the prep work that goes into doing “nothing” over summer. So if you’re looking for a few ideas on what, and how to create a schedule for your kids while you’re on break and before your distance learning kicks in I’ve got some below.

First and foremost set your expectations. Set them low. No, lower than that. Still lower. Okay, that’s good. You were already a busy parent juggling work, family, and trying to take care of yourself. Now you’ve been handed an additional full time job of teaching/entertaining/not strangling your kids for the entire day. Hang in there! You got this!! Lower (or get rid of !) your expectations and you will feel way less guilt about the amount, or lack thereof, of structured time your kids are getting. It’s not going to set them back in their schooling, it’s not going to irreparably stunt their capabilities, it’s just another break from school that literally every kid (except maybe homeschooled kids) are getting. Teachers are preparing for this, schools are preparing for this, and it’s going to be okay.

Now, on to the scheduling part. Time blocks are important. Walk into any elementary school and they have blocks of time set aside for each thing they do. And these blocks stay the same each day, too. This way kids know what to expect and it isn’t a surprise. You’re much more likely to get daily buy-in if you have a routine, whether they actually want to do what is scheduled for that time or not. Each learning block should be 30-45 minutes long depending on the age of the kid. Use those leftover minutes to fully stop the activity, clean up from that activity, get some wiggles out, stretch, and drink some water. These extra minutes of wiggles are really important, no matter how old the kid is. Even in high school you have to walk to your next class, getting your blood flowing and your brain a chance to move on to what is next. No-one likes being slammed with information for hours on end.

Get the heavy duty learning done in the morning. Math, writing, and reading, are best morning activities. It’s when we’re the most alert, and ready to absorb the information. But again, make sure they are in blocks appropriate in length to your kid. Here is where those low expectations come in. These are slow learning subjects. They get taught one day, and then you review, and review again, and review again. Then you can move on to the next little step in learning, then review, and review, and review again. It’s boring as heck for an adult, but if you can make a game out of it, it’s a lot more fun. It’s even more fun seeing the lightbulb go on in your kids’ head when they totally understand the concept you’re teaching them.

Once you’re done with the heavy duty stuff and the wiggle sessions, let them play. Go fix lunch, or warm up leftovers but let them play. This gives you some alone time, it gives them some alone time, and you each get a chance to take a deep breath. If they got what you were teaching, or reviewing, great! If they didn’t catch on, they will eventually. Take it nice and slow, and keep your patience. Give them lots of encouragement, and lots of time. Once lunch is done with let them play some more.

The afternoons are the time for “yes” and experiments and outside the box learning. Big in the learning world right now is the acronym STEAM. It stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math (although I change it in my world to make). Five letters, five days of the week. Pick a science experiment on Monday, technology on Tuesday, engineering on Wednesday, art on Thursday, and make on Friday. Let your kid have a larger part in the doing of this project. This is their fun learning time. It’s going to be a little more stressful for you if you micromanage every little bit of the afternoon project. Let it go, lower your expectations, and find the fun. They’ll learn along the way.

There are plenty of ideas for each of the STEAM categories on various websites. Find one that you can do, and that won’t grate on your nerves too much (remember to lower those expectations!) and let them explore the afternoon. This is also a time where you can let them lead what they want to do. Ask them what kind of science experiment they want to do. Almost anything they want to do can fit into one of these categories. Do they like to play with Legos – that fits under engineering, art, science, math. How about painting – that goes under art, science. Baking cookies is science, math/making, art, engineering. Let the internet be your friend here. There are lots of ideas out there, and, more importantly kids learn from fun. It doesn’t have to be a strict learning session, it just needs to be something to do.

Here is the schedule we follow for my 6, 8, and 11 year olds

  • 7:00 Breakfast (play after breakfast until time to write)
  • 8:00 Writing Prompt / write letter to a senior or out of state family member
  • 8:30 Typing or handwriting (my kids asked to learn cursive)
  • 8:45 Math
  • 9:30 Reading
  • 10:30 Play outside
  • 11:30 Eat Lunch (play until STEAM)
  • 1:00 STEAM
  • 3:30 Clean up a room in the house (I have a schedule for this, too)
  • Play some more!!
  • 6:00 Dinner

Adjust your schedule as you need to, but once you find one that works, keep to it. Routine is very helpful for you and your kids keeping your sanity. And lower those expectations!!

The Age of Yes

A quick little post of encouragement for you. If you’re like me, you’re trapped social distancing with a gaggle of kiddos at home. It’s really easy to get stuck in a pattern of “no” when you’re being bombarded with requests from your kids. This isn’t fun for anyone. Your kids are looking for some fun, you’re looking for a little sanity and “no” doesn’t help solve either of those problems.

Here is your permission to say “yes”. Let them play in your too-big-for-them shoes? Let them learn how to tie a tie. Let them play in your makeup. Let them dig a hole in the yard and fill it with water (check first with your local utilities group first to make sure there aren’t any gas or electric lines!). Let them figure out how to bake some cookies. Let them “swim” in the bathtub. Just say “yes”! Let them be kids – after all, that’s what they are.

Now, this isn’t blanket permission for them to go hog wild. You still need to set your boundaries and expectations that they clean up whatever they get into (and you’ll still have to help them a little bit). What a great way for them to learn something other than their normal daily school and get to explore a little bit. And yes, this will be a little extra messy, and a little more fun, and a little more wild, but what great memories, and learning experiences they will gain! I would much rather they remember that they learned how (or how not to) do something, than that they were bored out of their minds for months and they weren’t allowed to do anything but twiddle their thumbs.

If you’re working on schooling your kiddos, then let your “yes” time be in the afternoon once all their mandatory stuff is done. You can also limit it to one big yes each day – that way you get to keep a little bit more of your sanity. You’re in this together – what would you have liked to have done if you were the kid?

Finding the Normal

While we all are trying to find our new normal in this time of uncertainty, I am looking for the little bits of old normal to bring strength and courage to our household. This afternoon we were given the official stay home mandate. As we’re coming up on 2 weeks of the kids being permanently home it was a stressful thing to hear. To say that life has been difficult and that we’ve all been on edge is laughable. I know there are some families out there who would describe their last two weeks at home as the definition of a shit show. It hasn’t been easy. But here is where we look for the little tidbits of pleasantry to help bring peace and a sense of balance to life.

When I woke up yesterday I heard the birds chirping their good mornings, and the sunrise was a blaze of raspberry red. It was a good reminder that spring is coming, along with all the freshness it brings. Despite what is going on in the big world, there are all the little things patiently waiting to be discovered again. The smell of fresh brewed coffee, or a warm cup of tea; The green shoots of grass poking out of the soft earth and the new buds on the trees; Seeing the house sparrows flit around our yard and the robins perched on our fence. I remembered that I am looking forward to smelling the blossoms of the crabapple tree living next door to us.

My other favorite bits of joy include fresh bed sheets, the smell of clean laundry, the smell of warm bread, a clean mirror, a quick set of body weight movements (squats, sit-ups, and pushups), sitting in the sunshine, reading to a kiddo, and popcorn. Funny little oddities that can bring a moment of joy to cherish.

We got our seeds out yesterday and made our planting timetable. We’re going to try and do the square-foot gardening method this year, as opposed to following the row planting directions on the seed packets – cross your fingers for us! Today we got to the planter beds to sow the early start seeds and enjoyed the smell of fresh tilled earth. It was fun to play in the dirt and look for worms. It brought a sense of control to an otherwise out of control time.

So while you’re busy trying to wrap your head around all the big that is happening in the world, don’t forget to enjoy the little things. Because without the little things to bring focus, the big things only seem insurmountable. It’s the little things that get us through. One of my favorite sayings is the question “how do you walk one thousand miles?” and the answer of “one step at a time” – Find the little things my friends, and enjoy them for the small packets of joy that they are.