Sorry to have gone missing for so long. So much of my day is kid-focused, and that means that a lot of it isn’t mine to share. So I struggle to find the inspiration to post. I post a lot on Instagram, and I’m going to start sharing non-kid photos on my public account. You don’t need to have an Instagram account of your own to look at it, though if you do, certainly feel free to “follow” me! I’m going to look into how to get the Instagram posts to show up here automatically, too.
Most recently, I packed the girls up in suitcases, and we flew over to Scotland to visit Rob in his “new” house (he’s had it for a few years, actually). Those kids are troopers! They quickly adjusted to the time difference both ways, and they were stars with all the traveling. F hit 16mos while we were there — that’s her looming over a sleeping M in the last photo — and M will turn four next week. Has anybody ever noticed how quickly kids grow up? All those photos above are from Scotland, by the way.
We returned to leaves on the ground and a garden that had succumb to a hard frost. The chickens are all getting bigger (except the buff hens, who are going through a molt), and the dogs and cats are happy we’re home again. And I’m preparing for a new addition to the family — of the smaller-than-a-breadbox animal variety. I’ll leave you hanging in suspense as to what that could be, but they should be here before the end of the month.
I’ve been teaching myself to spin (yarn), and I recently had a chance to card wool from a fleece I cleaned, and I’m currently spinning that. It’s fun to learn a new skill, even though spinning feels like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy (while doing a couple of other things, besides). I’ve also been felting a fair bit recently, as well as dyeing various fibers. And I’ve tackled a big office (the bedroom we use as a home office, that is) reorganization in order to give myself more room to store all this stuff and sew, etc.
Okay, I’m off with my hammer now, to try to figure out how to make Instagram fit into the blog.
M had two doctor appointments yesterday, in St. Paul — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So we headed over to Grand Avenue in between and did some eating and shopping. As M said, “We’re having a fun day!” She loves going on outings, especially when it’s just the two of us (F stayed at home with my mom).
We had a delicious lunch at Cafe Latté. I almost walked back out after we got there, because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to find something for M, but I reeeally wanted to try their vegetarian salads. And M was able to get a peanut butter sandwich, which is a recent favorite of hers (I never think to make them at home), so we were both happy. We went to a handful of shops in the area, and I think Red Balloon was the favorite for both of us. I’d never been before, but kids’ books are definitely a weakness of mine!
Can you see the back of M’s shirt in the photo above? The front says “Future President” — we got lots of comments on it! M doesn’t actually know what a president does yet, but that hasn’t been proven to be a barrier to entry…
We capped off our mini-adventure with a visit to the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival (which you can still go to today, Sunday, if you’re in the Twin Cities area). It was great! I can’t believe how many fiber producers/artists there are in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area. F was delighted by the sheep, and M was all about the bunnies. Which plays nicely into my “plan” to become a merino/angora fiber farmer. M was a little disappointed that we didn’t bring a bunny home, but what she REALLY wanted was a spinning wheel. If only she were a little older! I had a tough time picking out just a few things to buy from the vendors, but I came home with some wool roving (to make another felted play scene for the girls), a bit of yellow silk roving, green banana silk fibers, some mohair curls (for peg doll hair), and a basket from Ghana. This is my third basket like this, although this one is “for the girls”.
It was fun to return home and see how things had grown over the past few days. Those strawberry plants are looking good (well, the cheaper ones are — the ten that were more expensive may or may not be donefer). I got more hardware cloth to put on the sides of the “cage” I’ve built to go over the strawberries. It probably won’t keep mice/shrews out, but at least it’ll stop birds eating our berries.
The chickens are coming up nicely in the front flower garden. That’s one of their favorite places to roll in the dirt. I need to get some more in to fill in all the holes they’ve made. The little chicks are in the big coop now (with some pieces of plywood to hide under), and everybody seems to be doing okay. They definitely prefer to stay under cover until the big chickens exit the premises, though. At this rate, by the time they muster up the courage to go outside, they’ll know for sure that the coop is “home”!
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!
M officially turned two and half last month. And earlier this month, we took a last-minute trip up to Duluth to enjoy the warm weather while we’re still a mom-and-ONE-kid family. It really felt like a vacation, even though we were gone for only one night. We walked all around, ate at restaurants, went swimming in the hotel pool, and found a great playground. I’m always amazed by the way M can grow and change her opinions on things with no intervening experience — when we went to Florida, she was quite nervous about the pool. But this time, I had to constantly remind her to stay back from the pool and not go in without me. She loved jumping into the water / my arms from the edge of the pool!
She’s also obsessed with playgrounds at the moment. I’ve actually ordered her her very own playset, and I made the mistake of showing her a picture, even though it was originally scheduled for delivery in two weeks. She spent a few days talking about how the “big, big playground” was coming to the house. I’d get her out of bed in the morning, and the first thing she’d say to me would be, “My playground will be here soon!” (Luckily, the delivery company called yesterday, and now it’ll be arriving THIS Friday instead of next — so she doesn’t have to wait quite as long.)
M would spend all day outside, if I’d let her. Which is better than the alternative: endlessly watching Paw Patrol indoors (which she’s done some days, thanks to my being really quite pregnant!). Although she recently discovered jigsaw puzzles, and she spent what felt like hours putting them together yesterday evening. The concentration! As eager as I am to get the show on the road, baby-wise, I’m really enjoying the simplicity of these last days/weeks of having one kid. It’s going to change very soon, but right now, it’s still all about M!
I took M to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum yesterday. I almost didn’t, because, blah, we spend enough time in the car. But then I slept until 6:45am (the first time I could say that since M was born — we changed our clocks but otherwise didn’t adjust anything for DST) and felt like, hey, why not! And we had a lovely day!
M said she wanted to see trains, but I wasn’t sure what she’d actually think when we saw REAL trains up close. But she didn’t seem fazed by how big they were, and she was totally into climbing up the steps to look in each train. I had to ‘Mommy carry you’ down every time because we WERE quite high up, and she’d get nervous, but then she’d look for the next one with steps to climb up. I was proud of her! We found an area with toy train tables, and I thought we’d get sidelined there for a long time, but the call of REAL trains lured her away. It’s so fun that she can be actively interested in our outings now instead of just being passively along for the ride.
We had lunch at Pizza Lucé (it was a favorite of mine when I lived in Minneapolis — I’m glad I remembered there’s a Duluth location, too!) and then went to the co-op to stock up on tasty groceries. By the time we got in the car to head home, M was so tired that she fell asleep before we made it to the freeway! She woke up when we got home and said, ‘Had fun looking at trains!’ — success!
Yesterday, we got back from a week-long vacation! Rob, M, and I went to Marco Island, Florida — about an hour’s drive south from the Fort Myers airport. It was more bustling than we’d expected, but the weather was great while we were there, and we had a good time. Most of my photos are of M doing various things, as you can see, but of course that’s how I saw most of the trip, and those are the things I want to remember. I said to Rob that I’ll probably wind up thinking of this trip as the last time (for a while, anyway) that life was ‘easy’ — M is just at a perfect age and temperament for traveling. She’s such a go-with-the-flow kid, and this vacation was so much easier than when I tried to take her places when she was an infant.
M enjoyed seeing the sea… until a wave knocked her over, but then she discovered sand and enjoyed that instead. Other noteworthy outings included the Naples Botanical Garden (absolutely beautiful, and the Children’s Garden is perfect — M loved it) and Mackle Park, a municipal park on Marco Island that has a big playground and a nice splash pad. We had fun at the farmers market, where M ate an entire ‘chocolate thing’ (pain au chocolat) and had the chance to pet a nice little kitten. And one of the coolest experiences was feeding a giraffe at the Naples Zoo! I thought M would be intimidated by the size of the giraffes, but when she saw other kids feeding them, she asked to, too. And she did a great job! She stretched up high to feed the giraffe each piece of lettuce and didn’t seem nervous at all.
In case other people are interested in traveling-with-a-toddler logistics, M had her own seat on the airplane (she has to, since she’s over 2yrs), and we brought her usual car seat onto the plane. She has a Chicco NextFit, but it fit perfectly onto a Britax travel cart — they’re sort of expensive, but it was well worth it to have something safe and easy to wheel the car seat around with (and M rode in it like a stroller while we were in the airports). I didn’t want to bring a cheap umbrella stroller, and I didn’t want to risk having her BOB get banged up on the plane, so I rented a beach/jogging stroller while we were there. M liked it! We stayed in a house, and M had her own room with two twin beds, which we pushed together. Luckily, she stayed put, near the wall, so there were no rolling-off-the-bed incidents! So much easier than the days of trying to get her to sleep in a Pack ‘n’ Play.
Now we’re back in half-melted Minnesota. It’s nice to sleep in our own beds again, but I do miss that warm weather! What a nice break it was — we’re so lucky!
Today we went to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. I feel like it’s a must-do in the winter: a chance to see green plants and feel humidity again! We invited our friends Lora and W; I’ve known Lora for ages (ie, decades), and W is 1.5yrs older than M — and both Lora and I are pregnant right now! I’m biased, of course, but when it comes to toddlers/preschoolers, you couldn’t ask for two better kids to take on an outing. Zero drama the entire day.
This was the first time I’ve taken M to a zoo when she’s been actively interested in seeing the animals. Last spring, she was quite nervous about the big animals, but this time around she was actually excited to see the zebras and giraffes. Her favorite animal that we saw today, bar none, was the little mouse running around in part of the conservatory. She thought he was ‘soooo cute’ and wanted him to sit on her hand (he didn’t). This is playing nicely into my plan to get ‘M’ a pet hamster in a couple more years! M napped the entire way home, and as soon as she woke up, she said, ‘I saw Squeaky Mouse!’ Squeaky Mouse being the name of our imaginary mouse — and therefore all mice.
I’m trying to do more structured/intentional activities with M, so I took our outing as an opportunity to do a little ‘extra’. Last night, we sat down and made a list of the things we thought we would see at the conservatory. I thought up most of the list, of course, but M thought we’d see bees, a mouse, water, and the sky. M added some color to the drawings (I helped her choose the colors of some of them), and then we brought our list with us today. When we stopped for lunch, we crossed off the things we’d seen. I think the only one we never found was ‘bees’. Which, you know… maybe in another five months!