Joy Dare :: A Gift Hung, Held, Heard

A Gift Hung


My black and white crayon art was a birthday gift from my super talented brother Jacob. I asked if he could pull of an Ansel Adams feel, and he sure did! It’s one of my most favorite pieces of art.

A Gift Held


I had to include Gillian here, since she makes certain that she is the main thing I find myself holding. That’s okay though, she’s pretty cute!

A Gift Heard


When we snagged our bird-songs clock from a neighbors yard sale, I was thrilled that both the kids and I could learn some of the bird calls in such an easy way. Unfortunately, I neglected to make sure that it was accurate, and after several months of me calling the name of each bird at the top of the hour, Dan pointed out that the clock must be set wrong, and I realized that we had learned all the wrong songs to all the wrong birds. Oh well. We’ll get around to bird songs someday.



I’ve been talking to the kids about how they shouldn’t just take one or two bites out of an apple and throw it away. Instead, I’ve asked them to save the apple in the fridge until they want to finish it. At least they are taking me seriously!

Spontaneity. With babies.

My husband looked up from reading the news one evening and snapped his fingers, exclaiming, “I’ve got a tremendous idea.  Let’s run to Walmart!”

“When?” I asked.

“Right now!  You know, just get in the car, and take a spur the moment trip to Walmart.  We could buy something exciting, like – oh, maybe wet wipes!  Wouldn’t everyone enjoy that?  Maybe the kids could go to sleep in the car.”

“Great idea!”  I agreed.

“Good.  Then it’s settled.”  And he clicked on another news story about two skinny dippers who sparked an emergency land and sea search on the New South Wales north coast.

“Oh, this will be exciting,” I said to our four year old. “back before we had you all, Papa and I used to do impulsive things once in a while, and I thought it was great fun!  Okay, Kinsley, can you get your socks and shoes on and help Sophie find hers?  Oh, and we’d better leave money for the milk, because the neighbors were going to bring some this evening.  I’ll pack the diaper bag real quickly, and we’d probably better feed the sheep.”

“Mama, I’m out of clean socks, and all of Sophie’s shoes are mis-mates!” said my daughter.  Which reminded me that I still needed to put the diapers in the drier or we weren’t going to have any clean ones for the car ride.

“Dan, do you think we ought to just put the kids in their PJs, just in case they go to sleep on the way home?  And we’d better grab extra clothes for Sophie, because you know how she is with her tiny bladder.  Oh, and after you feed the sheep are you going to need to stock the furnace?  I’m just asking because the bird and the fish should really be fed also, if you have a second, and the scraps for the dog are on the counter.  Oh, Kinsley, can you gather the sippy cups and put them on the counter?”

“Well, Sophie dropped hers in the toilet, because she was trying to fill it for a tea party in our room.” Kinsley replied.

“Oh, well… was the toilet clean?”

“Yeah, it was, but I couldn’t get the cup out and I had to go to the bathroom, so now it’s not clean.”

“Okay, I’ll get that in a second.  Dan, would you mind changing the baby, as soon as I can find a dry diaper?  And I’d better call and let mom know that we’re leaving, because she might worry if they come by and we’re not here.  And we should probably gather up the library books to drop off on our way out of town,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” says Dan, “we probably should drop off the bills at the post office, but that means I need to write a check and find the stamps.  Did we leave those in the car?”

“I think they were in Kinsley’s desk, for some reason.  I’ll grab them.  Oh, their room is trashed, let my neaten it real fast and turn down their bed in case they go to sleep.  Should we give them baths?  I need to take a fast shower, and I bet you do, too – which will give me just enough time to dry their hair, because we shouldn’t take them out with wet hair.”

“That reminds me,” adds my husband,  “I’d better start the car so that it has time to heat.  Boy, I hope we have enough gas to get to town!”

“It’ll be great to get out!”  I exclaimed.  “Isn’t it great to do something spontaneous?”

(To give credit where credit is due:  This is actually a retelling of Erma Bombeck’s thoughts on Spontaneity with teenagers.)

A letter from John Adams

To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned to us by Providence.  But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

some springish things

  • Invite the neighbors you always intend to have over to dinner for a spring brunch on a rainy Saturday.  Embrace the spring showers by using bright umbrellas and rubber boots as decor.  Fill the tables with pretty watering cans and mis-matched pots of flowers.
  • Use a bit of vinegar to give your dull, wintery tresses a shine.  If you add a few drops of an essential oil, it helps to mask the vinegar odor.  I’ve been doing lately, and it really has made a huge difference in my hair.
  • Wear a pretty, feminine hat.  I’ve admired this one from Urban Outfitters, because it has that vintage feel that I love so much.
  • Drink plenty of water.  It’s a good habit to have established by the time summer heat strikes, and I find that it makes a huge difference in the health of my skin.
  • Take a family outing to pick berries.  I have the most wonderful memories of picking strawberries in early June.
  • Weed the garden with your children.  It’s amazing what even toddlers are capable of, and it gives them an early appreciation for classifying plant life.
  • Clean out the car.  That way when it’s 90* and you load the family, at least you won’t have to smell stale snacks and stray diapers.
  • Our family uses a Aromatherapy Diffuser for the car.  I am in the process of writing an entire post on this little gadget, and with ideas for motion sickness, etc.
  • Eat as seasonably as possible.  It’s almost certain to be better for your pocket book, as well as for your health.
  • Take the children on a picnic.  My girls were enthralled to dine on a bowl of tortilla chips in the yard, the other day.
  • Clear one bookshelf.  Anywhere – just one will do.   Sit and look at it, and wait for inspiration to strike.  It’s amazing what one clear surface can free your brain up to do.  It’s therapeutic, I tell you.
  • Smell irises.  And, if at all possible, a baby’s head.
  • Hang out the laundry.  It forces you to acquire some vitamin D, gives the children some time to exercise, and saves energy.
  • Dust the blinds, wash the windows, and for goodness sakes – open them up and let a breeze through your house.  No more stale winter air!
  • Skip rocks.  This is best done with your husband at sunset!

Visiting Papa

Once in a while, I pack a lunch, load the children into the car (a task requiring no less than three carseats, these days!) and make the seven mile journey to the office where Dan works with my dad, selling kitchen cabinets.

It’s certainly the highlight of our day.

The girls dress up for the event…

Trux, too – though he remains cool and unimpressed, throughout.

The girls work on some difficult floor plans…

mooch the trademark mints and sunflower seeds off of Granddad…

get held by as many aunts and uncles as happen through the doors…

and educe tickling from anyone:

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.