Whew, it’s good to be home. M had surgery (urological, this time) last Friday, so we were in the hospital all weekend. I had read many accounts of this surgery having a difficult recovery, but M is handling it like a champ — as usual. She came down with a head cold the day before surgery, and I’m pretty sure the stuffy nose has bothered her more than most of the medical stuff.

I haven’t had a chance to work on the garden since a couple of weekends ago, but we returned home on Monday to find that the rhubarb had made good progress, along with the Nanking cherry bush. I really need to get that fence up, so M can play outside with me while I do other stuff in the garden. I want to build her a little water table to play with out there, and ideally I’d get some sort of shade situation going on, so she can play in the garden without having to be in the sun.

M’s Schleich animals have been a favorite lately. I got her some baby animals to match the adult (farm) animals she already had, so she can work on pairing them up. They’re so great. When we go out to eat, now, I put a few of them in my bag, and they’re the perfect restaurant toy (if you’re M). They don’t make noise, they’re not too big, and there’s lots of ways to play with them (again, if you’re M). She likes to make the animals eat and drink her food, or she’ll try to stack them up or balance them on other objects, etc. I love finding the animal line-ups that she leaves around the house, too.

The day M’s baby animals arrived, so did my new Kitchenaid stand mixer! OooooOOOoooh. My mom had earned some prepaid Visa cards as a reward at work, and she very generously let me use them to put toward the mixer. I’ve mentioned before that my electric hand mixer broke a while back (maybe in December?), so all the baking I’ve done has had to either be mixable in my food processor or by hand. The Kitchenaid is a big step up from anything I’ve had before — it’s so fun! I made a lemon meringue pie today (I still have a lot of eggs!), and I basically blinked and the meringue was ready.

Other random stuff: I made chicken-fried tofu for dinner last night. I don’t even season the tofu, just press as much water out as possible. I use a mix for the breading, although I cut it with plain flour and cornmeal yesterday, because it was too salty last time. Then I pan-fry it. Even M likes it! Also, I had to include a picture of sweet Bear cat. Can you believe somebody just threw her away in the woods? Their loss. (Recently, I was telling somebody about my cats, and I started with Bear and Birdy, and she asked, ‘What’s the third one called? Fish?’ I had to explain that the theme is B-names, not animals. OBVIOUSLY.)

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Productive Saturday

What a productive start to the weekend! My mom came over to watch Maris for a good chunk of today, and I actually did things. I started the day by finishing up a little barn for M’s Schleich animals. I had done most of the work after she went to bed last night, so all I really had to do today was attach it to the base, sand it, and then give it a coat of beeswax polish. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, as long as I don’t look too closely. I was making up the design as I went along, so there are a few things I’d do differently now that I’ve done it. M is happy, though, especially with the open design that lets her see the animals from different angles and pass them through from all the sides.

During M’s afternoon nap, both my parents helped me get the new garden posts set. We had to finish digging some of the post holes, and then we used Quikrete to hold them in place. I still have to work out what I want to do for the gate. It has to be at least as high as the new posts (6′), or there’s no point in any of it being so tall. Once the garden is fenced in, then I can work out there while M is awake — I’ll be able to give her some outdoor toys to play with and not have to worry about her wandering off.

I ALSO made an angel food cake and chocolate pudding today. When we went to the neighbors’ house this week, they gave us three dozen eggs, so I have to use them all! The cake took a dozen egg whites, but the pudding only needed two yolks, so there are still a bunch of yolks in the fridge. Anybody have a favorite ice cream recipe? I used the trusty 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook for the cake and the pudding, and I’d use both recipes again. I was amused that there were two angel food recipes — one was ‘Supreme’ and the other ‘Deluxe’. I’m not sure which one is supposed to be better! I made the ‘Deluxe’, which uses powdered sugar AND granulated (‘Supreme’ just has more granulated sugar in place of the powdered). It does taste pretty deluxe, but I feel like it’s not quite supreme enough. I suppose you just can’t have everything.

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Eighteen Months

M is eighteen months old today! Here are a few recent cute things:

– She likes to spin around when she’s in a goofy mood, and now she stops after a while and pretends to be really dizzy. She probably IS a little bit dizzy, but she hams it up, swaying from side to side and saying, ‘OhhhOhhh!’

– Sometimes she likes to ‘feed’ her toys, but she really took it to a new level the other day. She held her Schleich cow’s nose up to the end of her sippy straw and made fake eating noises (lip smacking). Then the cow was finished, so she said, ‘Ahhh!’ the way one does after a refreshing drink.

– Last week, she found an empty squishy pouch in the living room and, with no prompting, took it to the kitchen, opened the trash cupboard, and threw it in the bin. Nice! Except that she’s been recycling for a while now, and I discovered a bill (which I’d already paid, luckily) and a dish and a Pyrex lid when I sorted the recycling. So I daren’t imagine what she might start throwing away!

M is still really easy-going. I keep waiting for her to enter toddler-mode, and I know from other parents of kids this age that their eighteen month olds are tantruming and becoming physically aggressive. So I feel pretty lucky that we’ve lasted this long in relative harmony. On the other hand, those same parents keep mentioning all the new words their kids are saying, and M isn’t doing that, either. She has a handful of signs that she uses regularly and still says ‘CAT!’ to tattle on Bear, but that’s about it. There are other things (both signs and words) that she’ll repeat, but only when she feels like it.

I won’t get the official height and weight numbers until next week, when we go in for her check-up. She was weighed at 23lbs a couple of weeks ago (they measured her height, too, but I think it was off). If I’m reading the chart right (and if that’s still what she weighs), that would put her around the 25th percentile for weight. I think that’s crazy — she looks very average-sized to me. So I looked up the growth charts for the UK, and THAT seems to put her at about the 60th percentile! That’s quite a remarkable difference between countries.

We do a lot of wrestling and cuddling and climbing (M climbing over me, that is). She loves to be tickled, and I only ever do short bursts of tickling (’cause you know what tickling is like), and as soon as I stop, she starts signing for more. She still loves to be read to and will bring me a book to read if she gets bored with her toys. She’s not into scaling furniture, but she’s obsessed with sitting on things that look to be toddler-seat height. Gotta get comfy!

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M’s BIG Big-Kid Bed

I switched M from her crib to a full-size bed about three months ago, and it’s been great. She’s got more room to move around, and since she still sleeps in her hip brace, she doesn’t try to climb out. Until this morning, though, her bed was just a mattress and box spring on the floor — but it’s been upgraded!

Beds without headboards really bother me. Even though M neither knows nor cares where the head of her bed is, it’s just weird not to have a headboard. She actually had a makeshift one (a piece of hardboard, padded and then covered with fabric), but it wasn’t cutting it. I went back and forth with the options — trying to find something antique to match her dresser, making something cute (search for ‘house toddler bed’ on Pinterest), or just using the headboard I’d made for my old guest room, which was sitting in the barn. I didn’t really want to spend a lot of money on an antique headboard, and I was worried that something cutesy would be a lot of work and then get quickly outgrown (and it didn’t seem to ‘go’ with her dresser), and the existing headboard was white, which I knew wouldn’t work.

But then I remembered about paint, a magical substance you can use to change the color of things. Twenty-million coats later (it did NOT want to cover the semi-gloss white paint underneath!), the headboard fits perfectly with the rest of M’s room! I had to put the mattress set up on a bed frame, since the headboard was built for that height, so now M has a really-real big-kid bed. Still no bedding, though (she sleeps in a duvet-weight sleep sack), since she rolls and spins around all night long. The body pillow goes near the foot of the bed, so she can’t wiggle down past the end of the rails and fall off.

I won’t be switching M to real bedding any time soon, but I’m curious to hear from other parents as to when your kids stopped acting like whirling octopuses in bed. M is a great sleeper, but she likes to change her position every time she wakes up between sleep cycles, and it’s hard to imagine her ever keeping her head at the top of the bed!

p.s. — We brought some watermelon rinds over to our neighbors’ chickens today. M looooves birds. Only a month left until our chicks arrive!

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To Do

In 2007, I started keeping a daily ‘journal’, which was mostly to-dos and have-dones for each day. I started with little homemade monthly notebooks and graduated to nicer (and cuter) diaries over the years, and I even bought a new one for 2015, but I haven’t really written in them regularly since early 2013. It’s not like the old ones were full of my THOUGHTS and FEELINGS, but I still like looking back at them to see what I felt was worth making a note of — it’s really a shame I haven’t been able to keep them up since M arrived. (Although I just got the first volume of my letters to M printed, so suffice it to say that there’s no shortage of documentation of her early life.)

Anyway, I was totally inspired by Brandi (here and here) and her to-do lists, so I made my own this morning. (This is what most pages of my old journals look like.) It’s been a productive day. I’ve finished nearly everything on the list, and more besides.

Relevant things:

– I got that ceramic cat a few years ago, at an antique store on the way down to La Crosse. I got it 50% because I like it and 50% because Rob thought it was so creepy/strange.
– I signed up for Heather’s Whole Food Kitchen workshop in my continuing quest to get excited about food/cooking again. While our little town certainly isn’t a food desert (I’m actually pretty amazed by how the selection of organic and vegetarian food has grown at our supermarket), it does lack inspiration.
– I had to call our contractor back about some estimates he’d sent us. There’s one big project that we’re not going to go forward with right now (a workshop in the barn), but I have decided to divide the large family room into half family room and half bedroom. I’m excited, but man, that’s going to be a messy project. The dust from drywalling goes everywhere.

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We had a full day yesterday — dropped Rob off at the airport, met up with friends at a playground, and then did a little shopping on the way home, since M was too revved up to fall asleep for a nap. It was so warm and sunny, so I’m glad we had a chance to be outside.

And now today, it’s much cooler and rainy. So we’re doing indoors things. We made banana bread after lunch — M’s okapi did a little too much taste testing and had to have a soak afterward. I’ve never had banana bread stay so light inside; usually the bananas make it quite brown, you know? It’s delicious, though. The true test will be whether M wants any once she’s up from her nap.

My seedlings are still trucking along… mostly. They’re growing more slowly than I’m used to. That’s not such a bad thing with the tomatoes (I hate when they get all spindly and sad), but I wish my kale were a decent size. My parents tilled the garden while M and I were out yesterday, so I feel that much closer to getting plants in the ground. I still have to get the fence up and build some raised-ish beds, so… not TOO much closer.

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Perfect Spring

What amazing weather we’ve had this week! Last week was cold and blustery, but it was sunny and beautiful by Saturday, and it’s been steadily lovely since then. We’ve been going out a lot — M loves to be outdoors, like most kids do. Usually we just wander around and look at things, but I’ve also been trying to get the garden overhauled for the season. If I find the right combination of unusual objects for M, she’ll usually stay occupied in one place long enough for me to get a few tasks done. I’m looking forward to having the garden fenced in again, and I want to make a little bench for her, as she loves having a special place to sit.

I’ve been posting on my Instagram almost every day but really neglecting the blog. I never feel like I really want to just give up on twelve22, since I occasionally like to talk about things at length, but it just doesn’t feel as connected as the community on Instagram. I’ve been trying to reply to every comment on here, which helps a little, and of course I adore you regular commenters. One of the things I like about Instagram, though, is that I can follow everybody who follows me, and then I get a chance to see what everybody else is up to. A LOT of people post more frequently on Instagram than on their blogs (me included, now, I guess). If you blog somewhat regularly, maybe you could leave me a link in the comments (even if you’ve commented/linked before and/or know that I already read your blog). Then I can make up a list and make sure I’m keeping up to date with you guys. Thank you!

In the meantime, I’m going to try to take more (daily?) photos with my DSLR instead of relying on my phone all the time. I strongly agree with that sentiment about the best camera being the one you have with you, but I don’t want to look back and realize that all my photos from this time were taken with an iPhone. And spring is such a great season to document, especially when it’s as beautiful out as it has been!

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Spring Things

Little by little, we’re getting closer to spring. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth this year: a few warm days, a few chilly days, repeat, repeat, repeat. The ice is out on the pond now, probably for good. There are lots of ducks right now — a pair of mallards and a handful of wood ducks — plus the Canada goose and his missus. M is so good at spotting them out on the pond, even when they just look like small dots in the water.

I’ve got lots of seedlings growing in the office (the only place to put them where I can keep the lights on and shut out the cats). The ground is still too frozen to really work on the garden, though — I can’t even pull out the tomato cages that are stuck in the dirt. Soon, though. Getting the garden in shape is one big project; building a chicken coop is another. I’ve still got a while to get to that one, at least. The chicks don’t arrive until the end-ish of May, and they’ll need to stay inside for a while before they’re ready for a coop.

April already! M will be 18mos later this month — a year and a half. She loves being outside, and I think having chickens will amplify that even more. Probably for the dogs, too! Today is very sunny, but we’re in one of the chilly phases. I hope it’s a little springier where you are!

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A New Shirt for M

I’ve been really good about not buying new clothes for M for a while now. I got a few things (a dress and two cardigans) at the thrift store, so I could cut the sleeves off when she had her cast, but that hardly counts. Clothes had such a rapid turn-over when M was young, but she doesn’t outgrow things quite as quickly anymore. Actually, there are some shirts and pants that she’s been wearing for over a year now! They were big when she started wearing them, and now they fit perfectly. There’s one yellow sweatshirt that I really like, and she wore it to her 4mos check-up — and she also wore it a few days ago (at 17mos). I can’t believe her head still fits through it! She definitely doesn’t need the sleeves rolled up anymore.

Anyway, I haven’t started buying warm-weather clothes, as Minnesota isn’t quite there, and I’m also not sure yet if I should buy 18mos or 24mos sizes. But I thought it would be fun to sew something this morning, and I came up with this little shirt. I used a raglan tee pattern I have, and the 18mos size has seemed a little big on M, so I was hoping I could use a woven cotton instead of a knit. I made a slit a few inches long at the back of the neck, so it would fit over M’s head, since the material isn’t stretchy.

After getting the seams sewn up, I tried it on M, and it went on just fine — but would NOT come off again. Whoops. I’ve had that happen even with store-bought clothes made from woven materials. I don’t understand how things go on without a struggle and then become almost impossible to remove. At any rate, I had to cut this shirt off M. I went right down the center of the back, as I figured that was the only way to salvage it. Some bias binding and a couple of snaps later, it actually turned out cute! I like how the open back lets the shirt flare out at the bottom instead of being so straight through the body.

This was one of my first ‘real’ projects that I made with my serger (I got this one for my birthday). I comes threaded with different color threads, and I’d had to re-thread a couple of them while working on test projects, but this was the first time I replaced all of them (with all white) from scratch. I couldn’t believe that it worked on the first try! I still have a LOT to learn about using a serger, but I already really like it for sewing clothes. It’s so nice to have finished edges inside. I used my regular machine for the binding and the hem at the bottom, but all the seams (including sewing the sleeve cuffs on) were done with the serger. It definitely makes homemade clothes feel a little less ‘homemade’!

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Seventeen Months (and Play Dough)

I made some play dough for M yesterday. I looked at a bunch of different recipes and now can’t find a link for the exact one I used, but it was…

– 1c flour
– 1/4c salt
– 2t cream of tartar
– 1c hot water
– 1t vegetable oil

All in a saucepan, over medium heat, stirred until it started clumping together and looked like dough. I split it into two pieces at that point and carefully kneaded in a few drops of food coloring. It’s really nice, soft dough, and M had a good time sticking pegs (and cows) in it.

Also yesterday, M turned 17mos old. Almost a year and a half! For a while, it was like, ‘A year ago, M was soooo tiny!’ — and now, a year ago, she wasn’t SO tiny. We were in Galveston when she turned 5mos, and that was right around when things started to get a little easier, in terms of sleeping and her general attitude. For this month’s update, I thought I’d make a list of some of M’s favorite things.

– Goldfish crackers
– black olives
– scrambled egg
– pesto noodles
– green juice

– Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
– Kitty Cat Doll (the cat from Moulin Roty’s Les Zazous collection)
– Schleich animals
– Learning Tower (not a toy, but definitely a favorite)

– Dancing!
– Wrestling/cuddling/tumbling. She definitely needs her doses of physical contact throughout the day. She plays well on her own, but she loves when I get down on the floor with her. ‘I Bet You Can’t Push Me Over’ is a favorite game (that she always wins).
– Water play. This is a good one for when she’s in the Learning Tower, since it keeps her (and therefore the water) contained.
– ANYthing in the Learning Tower. What a great investment this has been! She just adores being up at the counter with me.
– Being outside. It’s been hit and miss lately with the weather, but she’s definitely realized that there’s a lot to explore out there!

– Cats and dogs, obviously. She says, ‘GAT!’ if she thinks Bear is doing something she shouldn’t, and she’ll also say ‘doggie’ from time to time, usually when we see somebody else’s dog(s).
– Birds. We went to the Audubon center last weekend, and it was WAY more interesting to her than the zoo had been. I think it helps that birds are more her size. There are a lot of animals that she likes seeing pictures of, but she’s not so keen on the real thing.

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