Earth Day

We’re nearing the end of April, already. I had hoped to get some vegetables planted a bit earlier this year, but — in between a few really mild, beautiful days — it keeps being cool and rainy. I don’t want to get my seeds/onions/potatoes in the ground only to have them rot.

Rita is broody again. The young Easter Eggers are out in the barn, in the mini-coop, still with a heat lamp. I suspect there are three boys in my group of seven chicks, even though I ordered only one. The baby-roo who came marked as such is starting to get aggressive (mostly with the other chicks, but definitely wanting to challenge me, too), so if he continues down that path, I kind of hope I DO have an extra boy to take his place.

M and I spent F’s entire morning nap playing outside. I just tagged along while M explored. It was a perfect day for it!

Fairy House

I’ve never gone in for “high fantasy” stuff (at least, not since I was a young teenager). But, for some reason, when M asked for a story at bedtime recently, I told her one about a little fairy who lives in the woods. She was completely enchanted and has asked for more and more fairy adventures. (And, for some reason, even though we can read the same books over and over and over, every fairy story has to be a NEW one!) It tripped a switch inside of me, and I’ve gone full-on Waldorf!

Okay, not entirely, but I was like, ‘I MUST make a fairy play set immediately!” I did some searching around Pinterest to get ideas, and I found several different examples of little worlds made inside small suitcases. I had the perfect wicker case (about 9″ x 14″), and I used wool roving to make a felt sky and ground. A few felt flowers and blades of grass, and our little habitat was ready for a fairy! I decided to buy one of these fairies from Magic Cabin instead of making one. (We got the pink one — everything has to be pink right now — and the hair is all wrong on ours, but M still likes it.)

Everything else was handmade or unearthed from my stash of crafty stuff. The little polymer clay flowers are beads that I bought in London — eleven or twelve years ago? The insects and the frog are made out of beeswax, and they all (except for the bee, which I made a couple of months ago) are from the stories I’ve told M. In fact, as soon as we got the fairy yesterday, M asked, “Where’s Katie?” Katie being the caterpillar who had starred in the previous evening’s story. As soon as I’d made a little (pink) wax caterpillar, she said, “But how does it turn into a butterfly?” So off I went to make a pair of felt wings, with an elastic loop for easy metamorphosis.

M has been really delighted with her new play set. You never know with these things. It was definitely MY whim that drove me to make this so quickly, but she’s enjoying it as much as I could have hoped she would. It’s very rewarding to watch her reenacting the stories I’ve told her, and I love that she gets involved, asking where such-and-such is or whether we could have a story with this critter or that. So there’s a little more Waldorf in our world now!

Garden 2017, Part One

This is what I’m starting with this year. Not very inspiring, is it? And this is what it looked like AFTER a few hours of work! I had to drag out all the timbers (the borders of the old garden beds) and landscape fabric and tomato cages and other odds and ends. Pulled up the pavers. Raked out the dead weeds, long grass, and old plants. Then mowed it down as much as I could.

Yesterday, my parents brought over their tiller, and I created the new garden rows. Now I need to amend the soil and cover the rows with landscape fabric. It’s always so fiddly planting things through the fabric, but trying to keep the garden weed-free without it is much more annoying. The weeds out here are monsters! I’m trying to settle on a garden design that can stay the same year after year (ie, one that I’m happy with, one that’s easy to maintain), and I think simple rows might be the answer.

We (M and I) have lots of plans for the garden. I might be feeling slightly overambitious this year, but we’ll see what happens! M has ideas about what to grow (raspberries — easy, since they’re already in place!, potatoes, carrots), and she wants to “sit in chairs in the garden” and HELP. “I’ll say, ‘Can I help you?’ and you’ll say, ‘Sure!'”

With the garden looking so desolate at the moment, I’m trying to remember how quickly it turns lush once everything is in place. I mean, in just three months, it’ll be mid-July, and everything will be green and wild!

Outside Apron

How cute is this little apron I made for M? There’s a pattern I want to use to make something similar for myself, but I have to get to a good fabric store to find the right linen (or blend). I had a big enough scrap to make M’s, though! I didn’t use a pattern for hers — it’s just one big (gathered) rectangle sewn onto a narrow strip, with two more strips for straps. They cross in the back and snap onto the body of the apron. I would have sewn them in place, but adding snaps meant I could make the size adjustable. For something so basic, it sure looks adorable when she’s wearing it!

When I told her what I was making, she was like, “Uh, no, I want it PINK,” so we compromised and put on pink pockets. They’re the perfect size for bringing eggs back from the chicken coop. I sewed a little loop onto the side of each pocket, so she can slip the handle of a garden trowel through (or a flower — or whatever a little kid finds on the ground). So far, it’s stood up to the rigors of egg collecting, though I had a hard time convincing her she didn’t have to hold onto the eggs WHILE they were in her pockets!

No such thing…

No such thing as too many baby chick photos, right? We’re really loving having baby peeps again. M and I could spend all day playing with them, but we only take them out of their house when F is napping. Too many ways for it to all go wrong if a baby human is in the mix! They’re pretty active little chicks and are still nothing but robust. I can’t get enough of their chubby cheek floofs. Beatrice (the dark one I’m holding in my hand and also in the last photo) is the biggest chick, with the biggest cheeks. I haven’t yet gotten a photo that does her justice — she’s like a cartoon bird!

New Chicks!

The new babies are here! I ordered Easter Eggers from Cackle Hatchery — they hatched on Wednesday (the 15th) and arrived yesterday morning (the 17th). Our Buff Orpingtons were ordered through our local ag center during their chick days, so I didn’t really have to think about them being sent through the post (I’m not sure if they were, or if they were hatched more locally — but they came with a LOT of other chicks, either way). I was so nervous about these little guys going through the mail, but they arrived in perfect shape, looking very robust.

Including an extra girl, we got six female chicks (Sally, Beatrice, Poppy, Jellybean, Tofu, and Veggie Bite) and one male chick (Eddie). You can guess which ones M named. “Veggie bites” are what we call soy “chicken” nuggets, but of course she doesn’t know that they’re chicken substitutes. So Veggie Bite (and Tofu) are extra hilarious as chicken names.

Easter Eggers are basically mutts, so they come in lots of different colors. We have four light chicks and three dark (with variation among them), but you can’t really guess what adult feathering will look like, so that’ll be a fun surprise. M and I have been enjoying watching these little peeps, and once they’re a bit more settled in and less stressed from their travels (not that they appear stressed at all), we’ll be able to start playing with them!

Indoor Gardening

Let’s see, it’s the middle of March, which means only two more months or so until real gardening can begin! Right now, we’re making do with our little indoor garden (which I rearranged onto a different shelf after taking this photo). There’s my geranium, which will be two years old this summer — I cut it way back a few weeks ago, and it seems to be filling in nicely from the bottom now. It’s quite a trooper! We have our mini bulb garden that was super cheap at the grocery store, but which has the biggest hyacinth I think I’ve ever seen. There’s M’s potato plant; we planted a chunk of baking potato that had sprouted a while back. It’s growing pretty nicely right now (in the green watering can planter), but having grown potatoes outside, I’m not sure A) how long we can sustain a full-grown potato plant indoors and B) whether any potatoes will grow in our smallish container. We’ll see! We also have a couple of pineapple tops that I planted ages ago, which seem reluctant to commit to either dying or growing. (There are lots of other indoor plants, but they’re not part of our “garden”.)

And we’ve (I’ve) got our summer gardening dreams! I’ve ordered a bunch of strawberry plants, and I want to build a sort of enclosed bed for them, so the critters can’t eat all our berries. I’m thinking I might put clear plastic on the sides (to maybe lengthen the growing season a little?) and hardware cloth on the (hinged) top, to let in bees. I’d like to do sometimes similar for the blueberry bushes I’ve ordered, but since they’ll get taller, that might be harder.

I’m going to overhaul the layout of the garden this year; I still haven’t settled on something I like enough to keep the same season after season. But I’m thinking long rows, covered with landscape fabric to keep the weeds down. Mainly, I’m excited because M is really old enough to “get it” now. She has ideas about what she wants to grow in the garden (good luck with those bananas, M), and she might actually be a help (more than just cute “helping”) this year. Gardening has been hit or miss over the past five years — misses on the years I’ve been too pregnant or busy with babies to get properly organized. But I think this year might be a hit!

Sunday Fun

I took a break from screens yesterday, in order to knock out a few projects I’d been wanting to do. (The active part of our device detox starts today! Go back a couple of posts to read about it and get the PDF, if you’d like.)

I had already cut out pieces to make M a new pair of slippers (using this pattern), so it didn’t take too long to sew those up. When I’d asked M what color fabric (from my stash) she wanted, she’d said, “Pink… and brown. And red and orange.” And I was sure I did NOT have anything like that — but look what I found! She’s pretty happy with the colors. I just wish I would have gone up a couple of sizes. I made a 10, which is what I’d buy for her in shoes, but these slippers just barely fit, and I wanted them to be roomy. Ah well. I was probably a little too generous in my seam widths.

I baked a loaf of bread in the morning — or, well, I put the ingredients into the bread machine and told IT to bake a loaf of bread. Then I made a small loaf of gingerbread after lunch. I halved the recipe from How to Eat Supper and baked it in a loaf pan instead of an 8×8″ cake pan. I let the chickens outside shortly after the gingerbread finished baking, and when I came back in, the house smelled like freshly baked bread AND gingerbread — can’t fit that into a candle!

M and I also made some daffodils for the window, a project I saw on Pinterest the other day. We’ve done a few sun catcher projects using clear contact paper and tissue paper squares in the past. (You lay down one piece of contact paper, sticky-side-up, the child helps you stick the tissue paper squares on (and possibly dumps a large amount of glitter on top), then you sandwich it under another piece of contact paper.) It was the cupcake liner center that sold me on these! So cute. And, luckily, one of the daffodils from our indoor bulb garden bloomed yesterday, so M was able to see exactly what we were making.

Piano Girl

M recently started playing piano. I started by putting colored dots on some of the keys, just so they’d stand out to her. Then I realized I could write out some simple music by coloring the notes to match the dots. She took right to it!

I’ve been marveling at what a perfect activity this is for her age. There’s obvious preschool skills at work, like matching the colors and counting how many times a note is repeated — practicing stuff she’s already perfectly good at. But there are also pre-reading skills that didn’t occur to me until I was watching her at work. Learning to read left to right and starting on the first line before going on to the second, etc. And sort of subtle stuff, like being able to mentally keep her place in the music when she looks down at the keys.

She’s loving knowing this “secret code” (which is also just like reading!). She keeps asking me what other songs we can write down — or suggesting them, which is why she now has the first several bars of the Paw Patrol theme song. I’ve been reading back through the Happiness is here blog, and this post was up next this morning: The Importance of Sharing Your Passions. Perfect timing!

New Boots

I took the girls down to the outlet stores on Monday, mainly to look for new pajamas for F. She’s wearing a lot of 18mos size clothing now (she turns 9mos this week, though!), and now that we’re getting into M’s old toddler clothes, they haven’t held up as well as the baby stuff. M just wore her clothes a lot longer as a toddler (i.e., didn’t outgrow them as quickly), plus she dropped food on them, PLUS she played outside in the dirt. So much for saving a ton of money by having two girls and not needing new clothes! Oh well, I love shopping for kid clothes, and at least the outlet shops have good deals. Although I forgot until we got home that Carter’s pajama bottoms have huge waistbands — with the elastic sewn in, so you can’t easily fix it. Gah!

Anyway, I was just going to mention that I found M a new pair of rain boots on clearance, in just the right size. I hesitated a moment to stray from her signature yellow rain boots, but she loves these “buggy” ones. And they do match her fleece coat perfectly! We love our rubber boots around here and wear them basically whenever there’s no snow on the ground. So getting this year’s boots gives me a sense of relief, like, whew, spring really WILL come again!

The other photo is M’s portrait of F (drawn on her Boogie Board), although she decided it was Henny a few moments later. You can do that when all the faces you draw look the same! I was still quite surprised when she started drawing these faces a few days ago. She doesn’t draw very much, and usually I have to coach her a bit to get her to draw a THING rather than just scribbling. But clearly her hand-eye coordination is improving, and the wiring in her brain is all coming together right now. I especially love how she does the big circle for the eyes, with the little pupil/iris in the middle. That’s not something I showed her! She’s getting better and better at writing her name, too. It’s incredible how stuff just “clicks” at this age!