Winter Odds and Ends

— Here’s Charlie, thinking about coming outside. She didn’t that day, but everybody came out later in the week; the snow had finally melted and given them a patch of grass to walk on. The chickens have been much pickier about walking on the snow this year (i.e., they completely refuse to), which I still think must mean they’re pretty happy in their big coop.

— In sad chicken news, I had to bring Laverne to the vet to have her euthanized. I’ve read that chickens are so good at hiding their illnesses (being prey animals and not wanting to seem weak) that they often appear to decline very rapidly once it becomes noticeable to us humans. That was definitely the case. She was my most special lap chicken, so it was hard to say goodbye. It was almost impossible to find a vet that would see a chicken. I called all around, and the one large-animal vet (within an hour’s drive) that works with poultry was completely booked up. I finally called back our regular vet and begged, and they were accommodating and very kind to the lady crying about her chicken.

— F is crawling! Not very well, admittedly. But babies operate on a steep learning curve, so it won’t be long before she’s zooming around. So far, F has done everything a bit earlier than M. Sitting (5mos vs 5.5mos), first tooth (7mos vs 8mos), and now crawling (7.5mos vs 9mos+, but there were complicating factors for M). It makes me scared to think how early she might walk! And also convinced that I must have gestated F an extra month or so — how else do we explain a 10lb3oz baby when the first was barely over 7lbs?

— M is the best big sister, though. All things considered, she’s very patient with F and usually mostly delighted by her, too. M’s favorite book at the moment is The Life and Times of the Honeybee. I wouldn’t say that it’s for the preschool set, exactly, but we MUST read it EVERY night, and she’s just fascinated by it. I love seeing what captures her mind. In less intellectual pursuits, she’s also in love with the Littlest Pet Shop toys right now.

— I’ve been reading quite a bit this year (since my birthday and Christmas, really, since I got a bunch of books). I need to do a post to talk about the books I’ve read lately. Right now I’m reading The Power of Off by Nancy Colier, about technology addiction. I’m only halfway through, but I can’t recommend it strongly enough. SO many passages have made me want to whip out a highlighter, and it’s just very validating to have somebody saying, “This is a real addiction,” and explaining why it happens and what it does to us. I think I’ve convinced at least one other person to read the book and go through the 30-day detox with me. I’m excited!

Mouse(s) in the House

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Everybody around here agrees that it’s been a terrible year for mice. Well, great for the mice, terrible for us humans. There are just so many of them, and they all want to live indoors! We had mice (and the occasional baby shrew) when we first moved into the house, as it had been vacant for quite a while. But then (ignoring the weeks when M was in the hospital as a newborn and the cats weren’t in the house) mouse sightings/catchings have been pretty few and far between. Until this year.

The cats have dispatched about half a dozen mice and helped me catch about that many again. A few days ago, Bear-Bear cornered the mouse above, trapped it behind a trash can. It seemed almost relieved to scurry into my little “holding pen” cage. The cats had obviously been playing with it — it has only about a third of its tail, and one eye was swollen shut. Because I am a SUCKER, I made it a home in the spare 10gal aquarium I had. The eye has made a full recovery, but now it’s cold and really snowy outside, so I feel bad dumping it in the middle of a field. (My parents over-wintered a mouse they caught last year, so I come by my bleeding heart honestly.) If you were a mouse, would you rather have the freedom to run wherever you please but be out in the cold (or run the risk of being killed if you go indoors) — or trapped in a cage but warm and supplied with food? I wish I could get an answer about that, straight from the mouse.

Oh, and I’ve got a second mouse tenant, too. This one came out of the garage while the girls and I were playing outside. It walked straight over to us (over the snow), almost purposefully, and let me scoop him up with my mittened hands. If you’ve ever tried to catch a wild mouse, you know how odd that is. Maybe word had spread that I’m offering warm beds and fresh produce.

Lately

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No rhyme or reason to these photos except that I wanted to share them. I had to take a picture of this outfit of M’s — she has the best clothes! If only I could buy clothes for myself at the same price (and then look as cute in them as M does).

Screen-Free Weekend

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We took a much-needed break from screens of all kinds this weekend. I feel like that shouldn’t have been a huge challenge, but I’m always glancing at my phone or laptop, and both M and I watch some TV almost every day. On one hand, I think that pregnancy and the baby/toddler years are times to take it easy on oneself — energy is in short supply, so keeping everybody happy and fed are the most important things. But I often feel like the internet borders on an addiction for me, and I’ve been feeling more and more unhappy with that over the months. So everything stayed off this weekend.

I wasn’t insanely productive or anything (see: pregnancy/toddler-years energy level), but I did wind up feeling like I’d really had a weekend, with no obligations to anybody except M and myself. There were a few times I had to put off doing something because I couldn’t look up the recipe or instructions on-line. But I think we were both happy for the break. So what were some of the things we did?

— Read more books! I read a couple hundred pages of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book I originally got shortly after it came out, although I didn’t enjoy the writing at the time. I’m finding it much more interesting this time around. M and I read tons of books, too, of course.

— We ‘found’ an imaginary mouse named Squeaky. It now lives in a basket on the kitchen table (the Kleenex blanket was M’s idea) and lives off of crumbs and offerings from our meals. M’s sustained interest in imaginary things like this always surprises me.

— I started knitting the new baby’s stocking. It’s only a few inches long now, but, like M’s stocking, it’s all colorwork, so it’s slow going.

— We wrestled and played on the floor a lot. We always do this, but I definitely got down at M’s level more than usual. We put M’s puppy blanket on the floor and looked at books, and then when I started making lunch, I was amused to see M reclining, playing with a couple of funnels she’d stolen from the cupboard. Whatever makes you happy, eh?

— We listened to the radio a lot. MPR and Christmas music. I used to listen to the radio a TON, and I wish I hadn’t gotten out of the habit.

— The pets got more attention. After M went to bed on Saturday, I read a book in my own bed, with the dogs for company. At one point, I put the book down and just pet Henny for about twenty minutes straight. SHE definitely enjoyed the screen-free weekend!

— We went to a kids’ holiday event at a local coffee shop on Saturday, with my dad (M got to decorate a tree cookie and made a Christmas tree decoration, too — she had a blast!), and yesterday we went to the thrift store and supermarket. Not huge adventures, but things we might not have necessarily done if just staying tucked in at home with the TV had been an option.

— I ‘slept in’. I usually wake up around 5:00am and use the time before M gets up (at 6:00) to check blogs or read work e-mails. But without those temptations, I just stayed in bed and wound up catching a few more minutes of sleep.

Generally, I just feel like M and I slowed down and enjoyed each other more. Even though I was excited to see what everybody had been up to when I checked my phone this morning, I was reluctant to break the spell. If I didn’t need to be on-line for work, I’d definitely have extended our break. I have to find a way to strike a happy balance now.