Junior Noodler

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I’m pretty sure there’s a box of spaghetti in the pantry that’s been there for a year or two. Same goes for whatever other dried pasta is in there. I almost never cook it. Yet, since I started making fresh pasta, we’ve gone through THAT at an astonishing pace. It’s not even the same kind of food, somehow. (“Somehow” probably = eggs.) I’ll make a batch or two of noodles, freeze them, and then they’re gone before I know it.

I let M help make spaghetti today. I’ve always made pasta while she’s distracted by something else — when I make macaroni noodles, for example, it always feels just a little stressful, making sure to cut them at the right point and then trying to stop them all sticking together. And forget about letting a child near a motorized pasta ROLLER. It makes me a little light-headed just to think of tiny fingers near that thing. But the extruder is safe enough, with adult supervision, and the spaghetti always comes out perfectly.

M was so excited to help! She had some real flair when it came to pitching the dough balls into the hopper — for some reason, I’d just been dropping them in, like a boring person. And watching the noodles come out is good entertainment if you’re two and a half. (Or, let’s be honest, if you’re a grown adult.) We wound up with plenty of spaghetti for the freezer, and I cooked some up — with pesto and broccoli — for our dinner. She loves those noodles!

Blocks

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We found these blocks at the thrift store today. They’ve been well loved by somebody already, but that doesn’t stop M from loving them, too! We did quite a lot of building when we got back.

Railroad Museum

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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!

Baby Sister’s Room

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Baby Sister’s room is… more or less done! There are a few things left to do, like putting up a black-out shade and making/finding better tie-backs for the curtain on the covered window (ideally — we’ll see if that happens). The crib will go into my bedroom before the baby is born, which is why it’s still in M’s sofa mode.

I think the theme of this room, if it had one, would be TOO MANY TOYS. Because, seriously. Why are there so many toys? One bonus to Baby Sister growing up will be being able to get rid of toys as she outgrows them. If anybody buys Baby Sister more toys, [insert threat here]. Pretty much all the furniture was in M’s room when she was younger, before she moved into her full-size bed and got the antique dresser, etc.

I was less concerned with getting everything ‘just right’, the way I did with M’s room before she was born, since now I realize how small a role the baby’s room plays for the first few months. But I did try to get everything sealed up, to keep both drafts and ladybugs (grr, arg.) out. So I think it’s ready-ish to go. Just ten more weeks (give or take) until Baby Sister can check it out herself!

At Home

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1. We’re settling in for a rainy week now, but we had some spectacular weather the last several days. We cleaned the chicken coop (I say ‘we’, but M only took away the one child-sized wheelbarrow of old bedding — she was very proud of herself for pitching in, though, and so was I), and it was a perfect coop-cleaning temperature outside. I think it’s quite a narrow range where raking out dirty wood shavings feels fun.

2. On Saturday, we took two walks down to the rock pile. With Grandma in the morning, and in the afternoon, we met our new neighbors. They’re also expecting a baby in May! It’s so nice to be able to let M wear herself out outside again. She’s been falling asleep much more quickly at night!

3. I needed something bigger/better to put over the breaker box in Baby Sister’s room, so I made this yesterday. I masked off the letters with painters tape and then just kept painting until I was too bored to keep tweaking it. ‘I Will’ is one of the songs I sing to M most often, when she wants a real song.

4. Trying some furniture reorganization to get M’s clutter under control. There’s still a long way to go (I think it’s just time to box up more stuff that she no longer plays with), but at least this little reading area looks serene.

5. My challah got a little tall — this particular bread flour always rises just a little too high. It’s good, though!

6. I was going to put away M’s wooden blocks and Brio trains for a while, since she rarely plays with them, but then we played with them together this afternoon and had a nice time. I made some ‘garage’ stalls for her cars, but they somehow turned into bathrooms for these wooden animals, instead. Toddlers!

Outside, with Chickens

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By the time we got outside to play today (after running errands, lunch, and nap time), it was fairly overcast, but we still enjoyed the 50˚F+ weather a lot! So nice to walk around without snow pants (for M) and without most of the SNOW, as well. The chickens are in heaven, finally seeing grass again and digging through leaves to see what’s underneath. I’m not sure if they’re finding much/anything, but it keeps them busy!

Sometimes M asks for a ‘[M] story’ at bedtime, which just means she wants to tell me a story about everything we did that day. When I got to the playing outside part, I asked her what she’d done outside, and she said, ‘Saw chickens! And sticks.’ I asked her what she’d put in her pockets. ‘Rocks! And saw Nova, Henny. I found Nova.’ (I’m always calling for Nova, so she won’t run too far away.) I reminded her that she’d done some running. ‘Yeah. Ready, set, go!’

She also played with her outside toys, which live in the garage. I sat in a chair while she played, and I’d just barely gotten settled when I was mobbed by chickens. I guess they haven’t become any less friendly over the winter! That’s Iris (left) and Laverne (right) in the bottom photo. Laverne loved to lie on my lap and fall asleep last summer/autumn, and it seems she remembers it. After peering at my face (one of the most unnerving things a chicken can do), she hopped down to my lap and settled down for a bit. Chickens are nice.

Window Be Gone

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Rob gets more riled up about some of the questionable craftsmanship in this house than I do (he’s used to houses in the UK being built out of solid materials like stones and brick), but one of the things that annoys me is how drafty a lot of the windows are. I mean, the house is only a bit over a decade old — we’re not talking about hundred-year-old windows here. Oh well.

M’s window stays sealed in the winter with plastic, but in Baby Sister’s room, I was dealing with two problems: a north-facing window that was both drafty and letting in too much light. M has a black-out shade on her window (I don’t know how people trick their babies/toddlers into napping without them), but Baby Sister’s room has two windows, which was really one more than necessary for the time being. So that north-facing one got boarded up! I actually used beadboard paneling that was left over from my bathroom. Put some weather stripping stuff around the edges of the back and nailed it into place. Problems solved (I hope).

You can see that more than enough light still comes in from the other window, which eventually will get a black-out shade. There are mini-blinds on this window (still in place behind the paneling, so the boarded-up-ness isn’t visible from outside the house), but I never had curtains on it before, so it’s actually cuter now than when there was a window there! And this should keep the drafts, light, and ladybugs (fingers crossed) out for a few years — until even Baby Sister is done with naps.

p.s. — The ‘theme’ of Baby Sister’s room is Toysplosion, aka all the toys that M has outgrown, even though they’re suddenly really interesting again, now that she thinks about it.

(Almost) Spring Chickens

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If the chickens understood weather (and English), they’d be excited to hear that it’s going to be in the 40s and 50s for a while. I think they’re done with this winter business. At least a lot of the snow has melted, giving them a chance to pick through the grass for anything remotely edible.

Mister Chicken’s tail is growing in really nicely! I don’t know how much longer most of the feathers will get, but the curly ones are starting to show up, so he should have a good-looking tail when all is said and done. He’s been a pretty nice rooster, so far — when he roams around with the hens, he keeps an eye out for any threats, just like he should. He’s less adventurous / more cautious than the hens — when they’re way out across the yard, he’s usually hanging closer to the house. And he’s always tucked into bed as soon as the sun starts getting low. He would like to woo all the hens, but as you can see in that last photo, Rita (and Charlie, Aster, and Iris) have not yet fallen for his charms.

Laverne, on the other hand, is quite enamored. Mister Chicken doesn’t always immediately come out of the barn when I open everybody’s doors, so Laverne has taken to marching straight in there to see him. And she’s been laying her eggs in his coop. She still goes home to the hen house when the sun starts to set. Laverne was the one who seemed to have an injured leg last fall (she limped around for weeks — it’s fine now), so she got used to being left behind when the other hens would run after something. I wonder if that’s part of her attachment to Mister Chicken now — not having as strong a bond with the other hens. Or she’s just boy crazy. I’m happy that he’s got somebody who likes to spend time with him, though.

Vacation!

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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!

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).