City Mouse, Country Mouse

We’ve been spending a few days in the cities, doing city stuff that we don’t often get a chance to do. Yesterday, we went down to Linden Hills (a neighborhood in Minneapolis) and visited Wild Rumpus and Heartfelt, had lunch at Zumbro Cafe, and then played by Lake Harriet. You can imagine how well the girls slept in the car afterward!

F loved the kitty cat at Wild Rumpus (M thought the chicken was great — I was like, “We drove all this way so you could play with somebody else’s chickens?”), and M had fun painting little flower fairies at Heartfelt. I had fun trying to exercise a little bit of restraint at both places!

I was struck by how good the food at Zumbro was — not because I wasn’t expecting it to be, but because I’d forgotten that, when I used to live in Minneapolis, getting a delicious meal at a restaurant was something I practically took for granted. We don’t live in a food desert, by any means, but restaurant food in our area just isn’t as… thoughtful as the urban offerings are.

I think M’s favorite part of the entire day was seeing Lake Harriet. More in her element, I suppose (though M is “in her element” wherever she goes — she’s very social!). I had to explain that we’re supposed to walk on the sidewalks in cities, and it occurred to me that most of the times that M trips, it’s when we’re walking on sidewalks. Her feet are accustomed to grass! She loved exploring the sandy beach and looking at the boats, and we sure don’t have as big a playground out in the country!

Busy

It sure was nice out today — but windy! We nearly blew away! I cut the grass yesterday, the first time this year. It looks so nice and tidy now. We have a lot of lawn, but if the weather is good, it’s quite nice to listen to music or a podcast and ride the mower.

But most of my “spare” time (basically, whenever my mom is over to watch the girls) has been spent working on putting down our new floors. I spent my tax refund on engineered hardwood — like a laminate, but with a veneer of real wood — for the lower level. I started with the hallway, which meant painting all the trim and doors first, but F’s room is going a bit faster. I *really* like the new floors. And I *really really* like getting rid of the carpet. Ugh, so much yuck in it!

Anyway, here’s the egg report: one yesterday, two today. (I’ve been meaning to keep track of the daily egg count since the hens started laying, for my own reference. I know it’s pretty boring for everybody else!)

Chickens and Ponies

No egg count today! The hens hadn’t laid any when I went it to check on them this morning, and it was so miserable outside (blustery and snowy/rainy — happy May Day!) that I didn’t let them out of their coop, so I didn’t go out again to collect eggs. I did spend some time socializing with the young roosters — trying to keep them friendly. The chicks are still in the small coop, but I brought Beatrice and Jellybean to the big coop to see what the grown chickens would make of them. (They weren’t sure what Beatrice was, if their alarm was anything to go by!) Assuming Eddie becomes head rooster of the younger flock, I’ll probably build a small bachelor pad for the other two boys. But Eddie has been aggressive with me for a while — charging the mesh sides of the brooder coop when I get close — and I don’t love that behavior. If he doesn’t shape up, I might not keep him, which could mean that the other two boys (Jellybean and Beatrice) would stay with the flock. Three roosters (including Red) for eight hens isn’t great, but it might work?

We went out in the brisk May weather to get some shopping done, and I let M pick out a toy. She’s all about ponies right now! I don’t think she’s seen more than a few minutes of My Little Pony, but she loves the toys. She’s spent the last hour jumping on a mattress on the floor with her new pony. Whatever keeps her busy! Now it’s time for us to read the last chapter of Little House in the Big Woods. Good night!

April Yuck

Two eggs today. And freezing rain. And snow! Which isn’t super unusual for Minnesota in April, but I don’t like the trickery involved — so many nice days, making me think we’re in the clear. There wasn’t any snow accumulation, but it still won’t be planting weather for a while yet. (In case you can’t tell, that’s frozen rain stuck to the bottom half of the windows.)

I’m reading Little House in the Big Woods (the first in the Little House on the Prairie series) to M right now. I’ve skipped some the parts about butchering meat… and how golden curls are prettier than “mud brown” hair… but we’ve been enjoying it, otherwise. I realized M really has been taking in the story when we looked at the icy snow out on the deck, and she declared it a “sugar snow”. Of course, she then started licking the window to see if it tasted like sugar. So she might have missed a couple important points there…

BMX

I’d like to start keeping a brief log of what’s gone on on our “homestead”, but today I didn’t do anything except make sure the chicks and chickens had food and water — and brought in two eggs.

I meant to use the day for tidying, but M really wanted to go to “the bike race”. So I told her that if we got the upstairs tidy before we left, she could go. That was some speedy cleaning! This was our second time doing strider BMX. I don’t think you’d say M is a natural (she still hasn’t figured out the balance part of “balance bike”), but she really enjoys it. She’s fallen down so many times but, even when she’s upset, she gets right back on the bike. There’s just something about it that she likes.

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!

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!

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!