Good humor

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

There hasn’t been much painting here in some time.  Inevitably, Beatrix begins to paint herself a few seconds into every painting session, and adding the additional daytime bath and major cleanup is not something I’ve been in the mood for.  But, on a recent morning I was feeling generous and decided to give her another try, outdoors.  The easel is something I found at Goodwill months ago for Beatrix’s birthday, but she is glad to share it with Larkspur.  They painted a line down the middle of the paper and each painted on her side of the line.  The cooperation was remarkable.  The morning was cool and beautiful.  The moments while the girls painted had a storybook feel.  It was all together lovely. Painting may make a comeback yet.

This morning the plan was to make play dough, something I’ve done successfully more times in my almost twelve years of parenting than I can count.  I thought that if I made play dough with the girls in the morning, then they could play with it while I did lessons with the boys in the afternoon.  I had some packets of Kool-aid and the girls and I were excited to use it to color the dough.  Standing at the stove with a girl on either side of me we mixed two pots of dough and began stirring.  They stirred until it got too thick, then I took over, quickly moving back and forth between the pots.  After about ten minutes I realized that the dough was staying sticky.  I told Larkspur that we would have to start over.  The next batch of dough was mixed perfectly and the girls oohed and aahed over its delicate shade of pink and lemonade scent.  The dough began to cook, and all looked well until a strange thing happened.  It began to turn liquid-y and weird.  It became apparent that our morning play dough making session had been for naught.  All I had to show for my efforts were three very dirty pots, and two very disappointed little girls with sticky play dough all over their hands.  Feeling really frustrated, I explained that we’d try again another day.  It was time to make lunch. (in hindsight, the only thing I can figure about the play dough is that maybe the problem was the type oil I used-sunflower oil, or maybe I heated the pots too hot.)

These two subsequent mornings had such different effects on my feelings and mood.  The painting success left me feeling like just that, a success, and that good feeling carried over into the rest of the day.  In my mind, the play dough failure threatened to spoil the day.  But as I stood there at the kitchen sink I realized that there was really no reason to let my feelings dictate the way the rest of the day would go.  I made lunch, put Silas to bed, gave math and phonics lessons, and moved on.  The girls had a good day even without the play dough.  What really mattered I think, was that I had invested the time with them that morning even if things didn’t go as we’d hoped.  Silas’ nap was longer than usual and I ended up with time to sit down at my sewing machine and make Larkspur a needed pair of shorts.  As I sewed, Larkspur and Beatrix pulled up chairs and benches around me.  They got out ribbon and wool and made who knows what while singing songs that they made up.  The three of us were together, but working separately; each of us happily focused on our work.  I thought to myself that I want to work harder not to let my emotions dictate my days.  I realize that crafting success or failure with my girls is not a very serious or profound example.  But I guess that’s just it.  So often these things that should be minor become major in my mind.  I don’t want to get so carried away in the happy moments that the difficult ones sneak up and derail me.  I also don’t want to let those difficult moments discourage me for long.  I want to enjoy and give thanks for the good moments recognizing that they are gifts, face the bad ones with good humor, and then carry on.

p.s.  Later that day (the painting day)…

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

painting on the porch

Beatrix revisited the paints.


  1. So glad you’re feeling better! I have a similar quote on my fridge to help me remember – Happiness is not a station we arrive at, but a manner of traveling.

  2. jessica says:

    Your porch looks so inviting! Thanks for your insping perspective, it’s a great reminder. Here’s a sillt practical question for you as a veteran Mama – how do you put the baby down for a nap? I have a 5.5 yr old, 2 yr old and 2 month old – my husband is home now, but when he goes back to work, I’m not sure how to deal with the 2 year old while I put the baby down. advice?

  3. Wonderful photos–especially the last! That one belongs in a Beatrix-painted frame on the wall.

  4. These photos are especially breathtaking!

  5. Great perspective on the moments of your day, whether they be pleasant or not so. The painting pictures are beautiful! Mornings are always the best. Wish I were more of a morning person myself 🙂

  6. I know that I have said this before but I do miss these days. They are going to be gone so very fast. So let them paint, paint and more paint! My 7 year old grandson came over the other day and he was covered in black marker. He had been pretending to be Frankenstein. Several times I thought let’s go to the store and then I looked at him and said nevermind. But it did give me a laugh and he had a great time so it was worth it. It’s something I will always remember. I can’t believe that I didn’t take a picture of it.

  7. I love what you wrote here Ginny. I’ve been reminded myself of similar things lately.

  8. Ginny, I was in the process of preparing a post Mud Pies: A Story from Childhood and in looking for an appropriate picture, I happened upon your site, Rhythm of the Home and your article Creating a Mud Pie Kitchen. Oh, did this bring back some wonderful memories! Within our world today where everything is techie, techie, techie, it is so heart warming to read a story about children with minds at work other than computer and television games. My reflection to you is basically a question of permission. I would like to use one of your photographs and link to your site from Awakenings. That is the name of my blog and you can visit @ I also have a second site,, where you can learn more about me and my writing. Looking forward to hearing from you. Sharla

  9. I have a problem with incidents messing up my day. Working on changing that. We love to paint around here, and when we do it inside, I lay plastic covers on the table or floor.

  10. Lovely post, lovely pictures. 🙂 Sorry about the playdough – that is understandably frustrating. Your little Beatrix is too cute. Oh my word, that last shot is precious! I suspect that in years to come it might just become one of your favorites!

  11. Great post! It’s a perfect topic for me today, as I can relate very well with what you describe:) Your honest insight encourages me – thanks for sharing!

  12. Love your way. Thanks for sharing. My dd always paints herself too.
    This is our favorite playdough recipe – no cooking, just add boiling water. Works like a charm:) And they can help too!

  13. Katie Murray says:

    Try this for a playdough recipe–no stovetop. Works like a charm. Just add boiling water to the blow of dry ingredients:

  14. Debi Miller says:

    That Beatrix makes me laugh and she brightened my day! I just love her little painted self!

  15. Lake just saw the last pic of Bea…and said, “What?! Maybe her mom will be mad.” I think it’s the picture taking that saves me in moments like these. The time it takes me to take a deep breathe and go get my camera and snap a pic…gives me the chance to back out of the moment and just see the innocence of it…and the chance to look back…after the bath and cleaning is done…and just see the beautiful child beneath it all….in most cases over here it’s Lake. I get it. Bea you’re a beautiful wild child.


  16. How I understand your post today. I am famous for tripping over sand pebbles but able to handle the mountains. Maybe, because the sand pebbles are just so irritating to me and I plan out more how to get around the mountains. I will work on this too all weekend. Thanks for a wonderful post. Your girls look like they enjoyed their day and that is all that matters.:)

  17. i completely understand how you feel. for so long i have let any sort of “bad” mood overwhelm a whole day instead of letting it flow over me and moving on to the next thing.
    i sometimes feel like everything has to be “perfect” and when something goes wrong it really throws me for a loop. maybe it is because i am a SAHM and i because this is my “job” i feel like it always has to be perfect, when it isn’t it really just knocks me out.
    i love those pix of Bea all painted. 🙂

  18. ginny,
    thanks so much for this. i am de-railed by such things, also, but most especially, have a child who tends to operate “1 or 10”, as we call it — either flying high or dredging the muck. no in between, whatsoever. i have learned, slowly, painfully (am still learning) over the years that it is as important to teach him to calibrate the highs, as it is to rise up, out of the lows. counter-intuitive, to me, anyway, but critical.
    thanks for sharing.

  19. Are those silicone muffin liners you are using to hold paint?

  20. Something I have learned from my teenaged and adult children: my children’s mistakes are not MY mistakes. It is good to learn, while your children are young, not to take their failings too personally. I am still trying to learn that with my 22-year-old.

    PS and the failings of playdoh recipes, too. 🙂

  21. Thank you for this post, Ginny. You are beautiful, your kids are beautiful, and your days are splendid. You are so right about our attitudes. It’s all up to us, to determine the way the day goes, isn’t it?

  22. I’m really curious what Beatrix says as to why she likes to color herself in what she is doing.

  23. Too cute, too cute. And a good lesson. You could write a devotional from what your kids teach you; I love it! Well, I hope you enjoy the rest of your day! It seems to be off to a good start so far. 🙂

  24. Your dappled sunlight photos are all so beautiful! I wish you well in your resolution –

  25. Sometimes my only peaceful moment in a day full of activity is a shower at the end of the day. Last night, as I was enjoying a nice, warm, quiet shower, my husband busted in, Parker in tow, and said “look what your child has done!” Parker had colored his legs red with permanent marker. And not just scribbles- both legs were colored entirely! I suppose some children just enjoy such things!

    I have an amazing recipe for play dough that you don’t have to cook:

    1/2 cup flour (I have used all kinds)
    1/4 cup salt
    1/2 tbsp cream of tarter
    1/2 tbsp cooking oil
    1/2 cup boiling water

    I use my kitchen aid mixer with the bread hook and add the dye while mixing. (You can add the kool aid to the boiling water, then add the water to the mixture.). If it looks yucky, I just mix in more flour.

    Hope this helps- don’t let it get the best of you- you are an amazing mother!!!!!

  26. Very wise words, thank you!

  27. Beatrix always brings a smile to my face! There is never a dull moment when she is out and about 🙂

  28. Thank you for your honesty and inspiring me to follow suit. Those failures really can muck up our days.

  29. You know, I always love the shots you include of your kids with strangely coloured faces. It makes me feel good to know my kids aren’t the only ones walking around with strange looking faces! Last night my 1 year old and 3 year old enjoyed some frozen blueberries, and the entire bottom half of both their faces was stained dark purple, as well as their hands and most of their arms. Incredible.

  30. cassandraelaine says:

    My daughter painted daily for a couple of months. As she’s only 2 1/2 I just pulled her toddler chair up to the kitchen counter and transferred her directly to the sink when she was done.

    Thanks for the encouragement! It was really needed around here this morning.

  31. I love painting with my children, I wish they loved it as much as Beatrix seems too!

  32. Jessica says:

    Those last three photos made me laugh out loud! She’s too funny.
    I love all of your photos. The wide shots of the girls painting feel so magical. What lovely memories they will have.
    I know all about being carried away by the emotions. Its difficult for me not to but I’m starting to learn to deal with it right then and move on.
    Hope you have a wonderful day.

  33. Yes, my kids love to paint themselves…it is what holds me back from letting them have that craft time. I am trying to be better about it though, and have made one room in my house a craft room (one that needs to be repainted anyways), so when the 4 year old and 22 month old decide to go to town, I can at least close the door on the room when they are done. And now that it is warm out, my preferred way of bathing them is turning on the sprinkler 🙂

  34. Haha very true – and so very like my own days (and my own daughters’ propensity for mess making). We use sunflower oil for our playdough and it has always been fine!

  35. Love your stories about the kids. You’re so right: a spoiled moment doesn’t have to ruin your day.
    The pictures are great as always. The last one is to put in a frame!!

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