Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Being a collection of early spring photos, primarily of flowers and mainly daffodils

Ahhh. I Love long titles. 
Well today is simply a a gorgeous day.  It started out gray and rainy just like the past several days have been, and then, half way through, something amazing happened: 

The sun BLOOMED out of the clouds. I threw open a window and let a warm breeze in, I dressed up in pretty clothes and danced around. I went down to our spring where we get water and admired bright blooming sprays of festive forsythia and dancing daffodils and perky poppies and darling dandelions all turning their heads to the sun. All flowers are sunflowers, secretly. 

Well, these are photos of early spring, as my title indicates, though they are as recent as a couple days ago. If I were to go out and walk around some with my camera, I'm sure I'd find many more flowers now blooming than just the ones pictured. I know for a fact that there are lots of trees now bursting forth in flower and that the forsythia are even more crazy today than the pictures I have of it. I'll go out and take more photos today and tomorrow and post those later. For now, enjoy these!
Flowers for sale down the road


Forsythia budding

Forsythia Blooming ( a week later)

Hyacinth and daffodil

And the daffodils look lovely today...

Red tulips, pale daffodils

Cherry blossom, I think

Purple petunias! And a corner of orange.

Beautiful colours

More flowers for sale

Look how green that grass is!

They look like they're singing

A splash of colour on a rainy evening

Natures first green really IS gold....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh the things I've been up to.

It feels like I haven't posted in forever! Well, this past week has been pretty full of all kinds of stuff, fun and otherwise. John's been working some long days and some how that makes me tired too...Some kind of empathy link going on there.

Anyway, I've been taking tons of photos. And here are a few of what I've been up to lately...

 And what spring has been up to...
Getting excited about leaves!
 I crocheted a bit
a scarf - nearly done!
 I had a birthday on the 21st. I turned 24!

Blue skies birthday
 On my birthday, I found a bead store and bought some. It's my birthday present to ME!
Beautiful beads
 Then I made some earrings with them...None like the other, two different earrings = twice as expressive. :)
Who needs matching sets?
 Had a great Easter.
Easter egg rolls. (Clever, no?)

 Lots of rainy days = lots of green!
See those tiny green flecks? Those are called "leaves," my friend.

Ultra fashionable
I  made some earrings for my friend, whose birthday is near mine.  She also likes wearing mismatched earrings. So I made her a pair that matched to mismatch.
A "pair" of earrings
 And wrote her a 20 page letter...
Earrings and a letter
Birthday socks!
 I got some amazing socks in the mail from my sister! Thanks, Bett!
Here I model my fab socks
I also had a mega gnocchi failure and an awesome cupcake success. You win some you lose some, meh.

I plan to redeem myself and boost my gnocchi-ego tonight and try again. Stay tuned, tomorrow I'll be posting the myriads of photos of spring flowers I've been taking. And if I make any more earrings, I'll be sure to post those too!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tomato meat sauce recipe

I do believe I promised to write up the meat sauce recipe I invented awhile back when I was making that anniversary lasagna. I made it again since then for some pasta and received all sorts of compliments for it. So I think it really is about time I shared it.

Though, I must warn you, this is not a harvest tomatoes from your garden and cook them down into a rich, amazingly fresh, delicious tomato sauce. I used canned tomato sauce here, because one, tomatoes are not in season, and two if I did grow tomatoes, I probably wouldn't have near enough to make a sauce from scratch like that. Also, canned tomatoes generally taste better than fresh grocery store tomatoes because the ones they can are the ones that got left on the vine until they were ripe, rather than the ones picked green so they would be mostly ripe by the time they got to their distant destination. And they're a lot cheaper. So, if you're the type who is satisfied to simply open a can of your basic tomato sauce and throw it on your pasta and you were looking for something complicated and made from actual fresh tomatoes then this recipe will probably irritate you. If, however, you're the type to use generic spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce and you want to spruce it up to make it more delicious and healthy, then this recipe is amazing.

And once again, it really isn't so much a recipe as it a guideline for making it. I'll list some basic proportions but it's largely up to you how you season and and fill it.
Also, it turns out, I did not have as many photos of the actual sauce as I thought I did. I have this one of the meat, mushrooms and onions cooking and then one more, of the pan of sauce along with all my lasagna ingredients. Still, the actual recipe is the important part, right? Here you go.

Tomato Meat Sauce
about 1/2 lb of ground turkey (or other ground meat of choice)
olive oil (I used my rosemary infused oil)
sea salt (or regular salt, if you want)
1 large onion, chopped
five or six mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used a combo of portabella and white button)
1 green bell pepper, chopped (You can also use other vegetables if you so desire)
Dried sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, a little of each
cayenne pepper (to taste, of course)
5 to 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
a splash or 1/4 cup of red cooking wine (I use dry sherry)
a splash of balsamic vinegar
two 16 oz cans of tomato sauce
one can of tomato paste

Heat your pan over medium heat (I use my cast iron pan, because it imparts amazing flavour as well as vast quantities of iron to your food) Add about a tablespoon of olive oil or just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Dump your ground meat in and break apart and stir as it cooks. When meat has lost most of it's redness add onions, mushrooms and peppers along with salt. (If you're using ground beef, you may want to drain some fat before continuing, though) Throw in your seasons and allow onions to soften and mushrooms to get slightly cooked before adding garlic. Almost immediately after adding garlic, add the wine and vinegar. Stir for a bit over medium high heat, allowing the the wine and vinegar to sizzle and mushrooms to marinate. Once meat looks fully cooked and onions translucent and peppers have lost all rawness, add your tomato sauce and paste. Stir until well blended, add a little water if necessary, taste to see if it needs more salt or other seasonings, and then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes with a lid on, stirring it now and then. Or, if you want it thicker, allow it to simmer with the lid off, but be sure to stir it frequently.

Now you can use it to top your pasta, fill your lasagna, sauce your pizza or dunk bread into it.
lasagna time.
I hope you find it useful!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'm wondering what it takes to get people to comment on my blog. What can I do to convince people to make that intimidating leap from reading to commenting?

I know I have readers... Don't be shy, comment already! It doesn't have to be deep or inspirational (though it's welcome if it is) Just say hello if you can't think of anything else. I'll love it with my WHOLE heart, if you do. I promise!

Plus, here's a link to some of my art. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Soapbox Sunday: Should it be "hard" to be an artist?

By now, you've probably heard of and or seen the music video for the song Friday by Rebecca Black. I mean, I'm seriously devoid of most current news media and I've seen the video like three times now. And I've seen parodies, and I've read a couple articles on the thing too. It's really quite controversial.

I'm wondering why.

It has the record for dislikes on Youtube and maybe the record for views too. In a yahoo news article its described as "mind-meltingly bad." And, what I think is the real clincher here, what really got me riled up about the whole infamy of it all IS Miley Cyrus being quoted, in reference to Rebecca Black, "It should be harder to be an artist."

Really, Miley, singer of "Best of Both Worlds"? Maybe you've come along a bit since then, but I wouldn't call that song a work of art. And I'm pretty sure you didn't write it either.

The story goes that Rebecca and her family went to Ark Music studios where they paid for a song written by someone else and a music video of her singing it. Ark Music produced it and she's been famous ever since. Not to mention rather wealthy.

A sad story, no doubt, but how is this different from any other pop singer? It's no secret that most pop-singers don't write their own songs. How about Brittany Spears and her "Hit me Baby one more time"? Christina Aguilera's "Genie In a Bottle"? These songs were no works of art, nor the singers particularly more talented than your average girl on the street. Is it because Rebecca Black wasn't in the Mickey Mouse Club that she's become so criticized for her silly song?

Granted, the lyrics of this song are simple, grammatically incorrect and nothing special philosophically. Aren't most pop-lyrics thus? How about "Anywhere for you" by Backstreet Boys?
"I'd go anywhere for you
Anywhere you asked me to
I'd do anything for you
Anything you want me to"

Or N'Sync's "I just wanna be with you"?
"Na, na na na na na na na...
Na, na na na na na na na...
I just wanna be with you,
Girl that's all I want to do
I just wanna be with you,
Girl that's all I want to do"

And does it have to stop at pop? Last I checked a lot of classic rock had simple lyrics too: Rush? Led Zeppelin? Creedence Clearwater Revival? And lets not forget the all time most popular and well loved band of all time: The Beatles. They started out with some pretty basic songs: "Love Me Do", "I Wanna Hold your Hand".

All right, so maybe it's not the straightforward lyrics that are bothersome. I've read some comments on Youtube that mention her voice. "Her voice is terrible!" "It makes my ears bleed" "It gives me cancer."

Ummm? Since when have you had to have any kind of decent voice to be an ultra loved and popular singer? Bob Dylan? Geddy Lee? Brian Johnson? Brittany Spears?
Not to mention it sounds like her voice has been digitally altered, which seems like a prominent theme in pop-songs these days. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of this Friday song, nor have I ever liked Brittany Spears or Christina Aguilera. Though I do love Rush and CCR, and the Beatles and Led Zeppelin are darn OK in my book too. I'm just thinking the negative attention and criticism is just completely overboard. Is it really worse than any other pop song out there? I wasn't struck with that thought when my sister facebooked the youtube video to me. Yes, I thought it was bad*, but I also think Brittany Spears is bad, and N'Sync and Backstreet Boys are, in my opinion, out of this world awful.

Since when should it be harder to be an artist? Andy Warhol? Jackson Pollock?

An artist, put simply, is someone who creates art, but what exactly is art anyway? defines it this way first, among other followup definitions:

Art–noun 1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

Aesthetic principles? Beautiful? Appealing? Aren't these words and terms subjective? Isn't "beauty in the eye of the beholder"? If one person absolutely loves Andy Warhol's art (ick, ick, ick.) then it's appealing, right? Dare we get into quantum theory here? If not one single person likes Rebecca Black, if no beholding eye (ear?) considers her singing "beautiful," is it not? Does it fail the definition of being Art and therefore she is not an Artist?

Ok, maybe. But I'm kind of doubting it...

Plus, I feel that the fame this song has received could definitely be described as "more than ordinary significance." The dictionary, however, does not say anything about the production of art being "hard." There's no follow up definition in that list on Dictionary.Com that says anything like "A work that is hard to produce." Or "A talented work that one needs to work hard to get noticed."

I create art; I draw, I play and sing music, I make really yummy food (sometimes), I write -poetry, stories, blog posts, I sew and fashion clothing, I make jewelry. Still, I hesitate to call myself an "artist." It feels arrogant, smug and above all, I feel in implies that my art is "good;" A completely subjective term. This is my personal feeling on the word. Other people have called me an artist and many people call themselves an artist what what they really do is take a photograph of their pee....Or other, less perverted, but equally untalented things.

The difficulty of becoming an artist can only be as difficult as other people's willingness and liberty to label you as such. When freedom of speech becomes limited, then maybe being an artist will become hard.

Anyone else got an opinion the matter? Should it be hard to become an artist?

*What did strike me about the video, and the girl singing it was her smile. She is a very happy individual singing a song about the weekend. And I do like that about her. I remember a friend's room, when I was a young teenager, whose walls were covered in Brittany Spears posters. Not in any single one of these posters was she smiling; they were all "badass" or "seductress" style. I hated that. Which is why I don't mind seeing Rebecca's video, it makes me happy to see a pop-singer happy, and modest. And you can't deny that it is a catchy tune.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brownie Experiments

Brownies and a cup of tea.

I needed a brownie fix today, as I'm sure everyone does now and then. My problem is that I don't have any one go-to brownie recipe. I normally just make one up as I go using current ingredients on hand- usually the staples of cocoa powder and vegetable oil among other things (sugar, flour etc.)

What's terrible about this strategy is that it's very hit or miss. I've made fantastic ooey-gooey amazing chocolatey and perfect brownies, but I've also made an awful lot of not so perfect brownies too. Cakey and dry, or tough. So today I thought "If I write down what I do, I'll know how to tweak it for next time."

It's all about being more systematic. I can do this, be systematic, that is. I know because I do it for long term things like wine-making. It's so important for that because by the time you actually taste your experiment you've probably forgotten what you did. John is very faithful about recording what he does with his beers. So today, I wrote down a very basic brownie recipe.

I like brownies on the cheap, brownies on the fast and brownies on the what-I-have-on-hand. Which is almost never baking chocolate or even chocolate chips, for that matter. And butter is waaaaay too pricey for just throwing one or two sticks into a batch of brownies. Not to mention kind of unhealthy. Plus, I rarely have that much butter randomly softened already. I don't want to have to plan ahead for brownie cravings.

This is what I came up with:
Brownies on the Cheap
2/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water or tea*

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl add wet ingredients, mix well. Pour into a 9x9 pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Result? Very cakey. Good tasting, but on the dry side. I'm not sure if it was because I over baked them or if it was a lack of something. Maybe another egg? (I hate using more eggs than is necessary. I've seen some brownie recipes use up to 4!) Perhaps a bit more sugar? Maybe less flour? More oil?

I'm going to try this same recipe with one more egg next time. And sometime in the future I'm going to try flax eggs**; make them vegan. I love just seeing how many things I can leave out or change about a recipe to make it vegan or gluten-free. I blame it on being a baker in a health food store for 2 years. I had to come up with stuff like that all the time.

Feel free to use the recipe, tweak it, change it, experiment with it. Tell me what you did and your results. I'd love that! It would be like having my own league of researchers! Despite too-cakeyness of these brownies, I'm definitely going to enjoy them.

*I used caramel black tea. I bet you could get all sorts of creative with the types of tea you use: chai, lavender, fruit could also use milk here.

**to make a flax egg mix one table spoon of ground flax seed with 1/4 cup of boiling or very hot water and allow to sit for a few minutes. The water and seeds will become gelatinous and very eggwhite-ish. Works wonders as a vegan egg replacer in baked goods.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In which I paint a dress

Do you sew? Refashion? take random snips at clothes to make them more wearable? Patch and repair instead of throwing it away? Save the unrepairable for rags, patchwork, reasons unknown? Love shopping at thrift stores? Only shop at thrift stores? All the above? If so, I think you'll like this. Because I like it, and I do all of the above.

This last Sunday, while looking for something to wear, I pulled this pretty pink dress from my closet. I love this dress, it's the epitome of an Easter dress. I've worn in a lot since my friend gave it to me. I even wore it to my bridal shower.

Buy when I put it on, it felt old. Dull. It needed some serious sprucing up. I looked in the mirror and saw flowers blooming on the front. A brighter waist band. So I wore something else to church and decided I'd brighten the dress up this week.

Here I model my fab dress for a before photo.
All laid out for painting.
Green vines in the works.

Pretty, no? I'm really pleased with the result. When I was a kid, we used to use "fabric paint" to make all kinds of gaudy designs on old t-shirts or jeans that we didn't care about messing up. They were not items we wore to church, or anywhere serious for that matter. Now I'm seeing clothes painting in a new light. It can be beautiful and elegant. Not just crafty or ridiculous. And I didn't even use "fabric paint," I used acrylic paint. Which is what fabric paint is, just in special tube squeeze bottles, that never did make it easier to control. I love acrylic paint. And I believe I'll be using it to paint some more garments in the future.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Songs of Spring

It's hard to believe that ten days ago we had a decent sized snow storm. A good three or four inches. It was beautiful, I loved it. But I loved that it melted even more.

Last night we opened the window in our bedroom. It was the first night the weather has been balmy enough to really enjoy the breezes that came through. And the sounds. The crickets, frogs, cicadas. Swamp music. Night music.

I noticed them first on Sunday evening, after our first genuinely warm day. They've arrived, the beautiful night sounds. The wind in the trees (only buds yet.) And the tinkling of all those bugs and frogs singing their little hearts out. The smell of spring wafting through out window. I can't imagine a more beautiful lullaby to drift to sleep upon; my thoughts roaming through romantic dreams and anticipations of barefoot walks in the grass and lounging in the sun with a book. These are the times ahead.

And in the morning? The birds! In my half asleep state I could swear I heard Vivaldi's Spring being chirped and tweeted. I like to imagine that Vivaldi heard it one Spring morning and merely transcribed it for strings to play. Isn't it such nice thought?

These are the days when one feels set free. The ice has melted and the snow has thrown its final punch. The wind is no longer bitter. Cold at times and always fresh, but the bite has melted out of it. Warm days are upon us. Even the occasional cold day won't discourage. Winter boots and coats are being put away for good. Mittens and gloves are a thing of the past. Flowers are blooming left and right.

I feel like doing a bit of singing myself! At any rate, I believe I'll pull out my violin and play a little Spring.

p.s I can't actually play Spring on the violin. I can barely read music and play everything by ear, but I think I'll attempt it today. And failing that, I'll have my very talented husband play it for me when he gets home.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Movie Review: Tangled

Have you seen Tangled? If not, you should. We watched it with our Bible study group this last week and I was enchanted!

The funny thing about this was that day before watching it was the first time I had heard of it. (Don't make fun, I don't get out much.) It sounded fun to say the least. Then our friends, at whose house our Bible study is hosted, asked "Have any of you seen Tangled?" And I was like "Woah! I just heard of that yesterday for the first time and thought it looked really cool." So that was that and we watched it.

I loved it. It was pure entertainment and an excellent story. The animation was beautiful and the musical scores and songs were not bad at all. Though, I thought Mother Gothel's song was really similar to Ursala the sea witch's in The Little Mermaid. Still, I liked the songs. My particular favourite was the one Rapunzel sings near the beginning, while she's cleaning and working on her hobbies. I exclaimed "This is my life exactly!" at that point.

People probably look at the cover of this movie and think "Kid movie." As well as "Girl movie." And they're right. Kids and girls more than likely would love it. But I got the feeling that all the guys at our study really got a kick out of it too. It had some majorly funny parts. And the guy protagonist is sheer charm. I think any man would enjoy his point of view. And if you happen to be a grown-up who is into great stories that don't necessarily need explosions or dull adult drama to make them work, then I'd say you'd probably enjoy it too.

I'd watch it again and maybe again. I'd put it up there with The Emperor's New Groove and Toy Story for kid-adult-friendliness in entertainment.

One last word. Before we watched it, our friend who suggested the movie compared Tangled to Shrek. While I liked the first Shrek movie just fine, I would strongly disagree with this comparison. Shrek is fairy-tale gone modern, "realistic", and ironic. Tangled is classic fairytale with modern humour and slightly more realistic drama but still very fanciful and magical. And, in my opinion, much better than Shrek.

If you haven't already seen this movie, do your self a favour and watch it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

24 hour flu bug.....woah.

So, turns out that whole 24 hour flu bug is not a joke. Having a flu is never a joke, of course, but I seriously thought that when someone said "Sorry, can't make it I've got a 24 hour flu bug..." well, I thought it was a lame excuse at best.

Then, on Monday afternoon, I was off to work at the little after school pottery class I help my friend with and I was feeling tired, a little headachey and weirdly hungry. At least, I thought it was hunger. But it was weird because I had only just eaten. Towards the end of the class, as we cleaned up, I felt a strong urge to sit down due to nausea and headache.

It got worse on the drive home. Car rides and preexisting nausea do not mix. I got home and said to my husband "wooah, hey. I feel terrible." And pretty much went to the bathroom and vomited. It was disgusting, and reminded me of the many many times I've reclined in that same position during my pregnancy. Only this time, I didn't have the sweet thought of a baby at the end of it. That made it really sad, too.

I made some peppermint tea while hanging onto the counter so I wouldn't pass out and then remembered that Kayleigh (who is still with us) needed a diaper change. So after I made my pot of tea, I whisked her into the bathroom and changed her soaked through diaper and sent her on her merry way in record time. Then, hoping to feel better after sipping some peppermint tea, I sat on the couch with my cup and tried to regain some control of my stomach.

No luck. A few sips went down and I was rushing to the bathroom to let them back up. Then I tried water. Again, no siree-bob. (whatever that means) Finally I thought, Fine, screw it stomach, I'm taking a shower and going to bed. So I informed dear husband (who had lovingly come in and comforted me and cleaned up after me while I barfed all three times) that he was on his own for dinner and had to make sure Kayleigh got to bed too. And, feeling very gross inside and out, I climbed into the shower and sat there for a good 30 minutes, thanking God all the while for the privilege of living in a first world country.

As a parting gift, my stomach offered to hurl once more before I crawled into bed and I couldn't refuse. It was about 8:00 pm when I finally lied down. My body ached, my head was throbbing, I felt like I was freezing after my hot shower and then after I warmed my covers I began sweating profusely. I tossed and turned, woke up and fell asleep, but mostly woke up. My throat ached with thirst but I only allowed myself tiny sips due to my fear of needing to throw up again. I kept wondering "where did this come from? There was no warning!" It felt like the night would never end, and then, just as I was getting comfortable, it did.

All the next day is a bit of a blur. I know I made porridge for John and Kayleigh for breakfast then climbed back in bed. John left for work and Kayleigh played in the living room. I was beyond caring what she was doing; I just needed sleep. At some point, I got out of bed and staggered to the couch, thinking "I can keep an eye on Kayleigh here." But my eyes were closed the whole time so....not much good.

Towards the end of the day I started feeling a little better. I was able to drink water, a little at a time, and I hadn't thrown up at all that day. I allowed myself to eat some fruit and drink some tea. I napped when Kayleigh napped and John came home saying he was feeling a bit achy himself and he napped too. I managed to heat leftovers for dinner - beef stew. Delicious. And then had tea again. We went to bed early and the next day...

Fine. Seriously. All better. My neck and shoulders were kind of sore, probably from some weird way I slept the fevered night and that was it. So I guess now I know.

The 24 hour flu bug is not a lie, and neither is it a joke.

P.S Kayleigh is destined to be on her way home come this Saturday, and I'll be back up to par for the blog then. She's just way too much trouble for me to be bothering with photos and whatnot while she's around. And her naps just never seem long enough. Bear with me, I've got some great ones planned. thanks!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Busy days

Two or so days ago, my husband's brother's wife went into labor. As planned, once they got to the hospital, John and I went to pick up their two year old daughter, Kayleigh. Kayleigh is staying with us now pretty much until further notice.

Sister in law had a fairly successful labor and delivery and now has a new baby boy. I think she and her husband may be home from the hospital now...I'm not really sure. We figure they'll get in touch with us when they want their daughter back, and until then....Fun, fun times!

So, I've been taking care of and playing with Kayleigh quite a bit in the past couple days. It's a blast, but also very time consuming. There are few moments where I can really get away and then it's only long enough to do small things. Snatch a paragraph's read out of my current novel or use the bathroom. Otherwise she tends to get a little destructive or dangerous.

All in all, she really isn't a bad kid. She does tend to do a lot of silly things to get attention. I really think she's getting a lot more attention here than she's used to. She'll wander into the bathroom where she knows she isn't allowed and the first time, I followed her in there to make sure she wouldn't get in trouble. She, with a knowing grin on her face, walked to the toilet and placed her hand on the flush lever and looked at me, grin firmly in place. I'm fairly certain, had she done this at home, her mom or dad would have screamed at her "No!" and grabbed her away. Realizing she was daring me to stop her, I shrugged and walked away saying "Go ahead and flush it. See if I care." And added, "the toilet is dirty though, so you might not want to touch it."

A couple seconds later she ran out of the bathroom and hasn't attempted to flush it since (not that I've seen.)

It's been that way a lot. She'll barely knock her head on something and turn to make sure I saw then burst into fits for attention. Times like those, I like to crouch to her level and look her in the eyes while rubbing her head or holding her hands and tell her she's okay. I've noticed that if I ignore her then she attempts to hurt herself further and really goes into a tantrum.

I'm hoping that she's learning from the time she spends with us. I've given her a lot of independence; allowing her to play with nearly anything she finds (so long as it's not dangerous or highly fragile) even if it makes a mess. And she's barely used the sippy-cup she came with, preferring to drink out of a regular cup. All along we've been allowing to feed herself with her own spoon or fork and she's been doing great. She didn't even spill anything on herself tonight at dinner!

It's funny about the spoon and fork thing because last night we took her to visit her mom, dad and new brother at the hospital and John handed her a small yogurt cup with a spoon to feed her self. Her dad said "She can't feed herself, she doesn't know how." John and I both looked at him with befuddled faces and told him she's been doing it fine with us.

And plenty of times out side, walking and playing in the nice spring weather too. The first time we took her outside for a walk, she beelined to the car and when I walked past it she stood there confused for a while. As though she never had been outside just to be outside before. I wonder if she only knows "You go outside, you get in the car." Which is sad, because the outdoors are so important for a child's growth and development! Not to mention helping them sleep better at night.

To be honest, I really have no idea how her parents take care of her when I'm not around. All I know is the times I've seen them with her, she gets yelled at an awful lot for doing just about anything that is natural to a two year old. I don't want to criticize their parenting, but that just seems sad. I've only yelled at Kayleigh once so far and that was because she was scooping toilet water out and attempting to drink it. My scream was sheer panic at the grody, germy nasty-ness of it I think it sounded something like "EUUUUUUWWWGHHHH!!!!!" I think it really scared her. So I comforted her and told her how dirty toilets were and I'm hoping she learned the lesson. We'll see.

My main goal for Kayleigh these next couple weeks is to teach her to talk. I'm pretty sure it's highly abnormal for a two year old's vocabulary to completely void of any real words. She jibbers a lot and says the same phrases repeatedly sometimes, so I know she wants to talk, she just doesn't have any english words yet. So we'll be working on that. I basically just talk to her a lot and point to stuff and say the name, shape, colour etc. I'm hoping that works. I really haven't any clear ideas on how to teach a two year old to speak, especially one that already knows a lot concepts and commands and obviously understands most of what I say to her.

We baked bread together, which she seemed to really enjoy. Especially the eating part. I'd post photos, but I'm not sure if her parents would dig that.

Update 4/10/11: Kayleigh went home after 10 days with us. I did not, sadly, teach her to talk, or even teach her to say anything. She did learn to drink from a grownup cup and learn the concept of being gentle with us, so I guess that's pretty good.

Update 4/23/11: According to her mom and dad, Kayleigh also learned how to gasp during her stay. Whatever that's worth....
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