Not Quite Barefoot

I’ve been reading Balanced and Barefoot, which is basically a guilt trip in book form. Okay, not really, but it’s eye-opening to see how far the average child has slipped in terms of physical strength over the past several decades, and it’s not had to imagine why that is. Reading the book is a real motivator to make sure we get our outside time each day, even when I’m not feeling like it. Especially when I’m not feeling like it, because nobody in our family needs the benefits of moving around outside as much as I do!

We usually do a circuit around our house, dwelling longer in certain areas on different days. M has been asking to start out at the “fairy rocks” most of the time, which is also the spot where we can weave through the young birches to get in the woods. We’ve been bringing Jellybean (one of the young roosters) with us, as he’s so friendly and will tag along wherever we go. We have to see if the ants are out at the giant ant hill. Then it’s a run down to the pond and the big flat rock. A couple dozen leaps off the rock, looking for fish in the pond (we haven’t seen any lately — there are just some tiny minnow-y things), then up and over to the swing set. I check on things while M dawdles or runs in circles. Lots of blossoms on the apple tree; the baby catalpa is finally showing signs of life; some fuzzy critter has snuck in through the garden fence and eaten our little broccoli and cabbage plants (grr!).

Once F is bigger and can join us, we’ll have much more to explore. We’re going to need to invest in bug spray!

Growing, Changing

The weather has been here, there, and everywhere, but I feel like, overall, it’s been a pretty good spring. I just wish that F were older and could come explore the woods with M and I. I take M out while F is napping, but we can’t go very far before I lose the signal on the monitor. And the woods are too dense (with too many branches and twigs to duck under) to put F in the carrier. But she’ll probably be scrambling along with us next spring! She started walking at 10.5mos, so I reckon by the time she’s almost two years old, she’ll be climbing to the tops of trees!

Friends on Instagram have probably noticed that I’ve been exploring Waldorf methods/philosophies/projects. When M expressed an interest in fairies, I latched onto it — I don’t subscribe fully to any method except following the child’s interests and needs. Montessori seemed a great fit for her during her toddler years, and now as her imagination grows, a lot of the Waldorf “stuff” is really appealing. It’ll be interesting to see if F goes through the same phases or is more swayed by whatever big sister is into. Her birthday is next week (somehow!), and her little gifts are a good mix — the play silk and the little fairy (a decoration I made for her room) are more in the Waldorf category, while Schleich animals are a favorite of Montessori folks. We love our other Schleich farm animals, and F has started playing with them in the barn I made when M was little.

It’s interesting to see how M is drawn toward the magical as she gets a bit older. I don’t do Santa or the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc., and if you ask her if fairies are real, she’ll say no. But she also loves looking for fairy homes when we’re outside. It’s like she’s knowingly taking part in a suspension of disbelief because it’s fun. Which makes it fun for me. I just love watching her interests reveal themselves. And we’ve barely even begun with F’s!

Rhubarb!

The rhubarb seems pretty happy in its new home, although it always seems pretty happy in spring! It’s super pink this year, though. I need to start harvesting more of it. I thought my first use would be just stewing it down with a little sugar — quick and easy. And what better to have it with than cheesecake?

I didn’t want to make a full-sized cheesecake, and when I searched for a recipe that used only a pound of cream cheese, I came across this page. I used the first recipe on there, minus the sour cream topping. It was actually a little challenging finding an unfussy cheesecake recipe! Forget about water baths and leaving it in the oven with the door open for 2.5hrs, etc, etc. I don’t care if it cracks. Is it a cheesecake? Then it’s good enough! I made it in a small (7″?) springform pan, and it’s just the right size for us.

M likes it, too, although she prefers to pick hers up and eat it like it’s a slice of pizza! (Sidenote: She won’t eat pizza, though.)

Floors — M’s Room

Another room down. I spent all of Wednesday (= all the hours my mom was here to watch the girls) prepping M’s room and all of Thursday putting down the new engineered hardwood. It’s quite a process. I had to move almost everything out of M’s room, pull up the carpet, pull up the pad (which requires scraping it off the glue at the edges), pry up the nail strips, use an oscillating multi-tool to saw off however many nail heads wouldn’t pry out of the concrete, use the same tool to cut the door jamb and molding to the appropriate height, sweep, vacuum, and then vacuum with the hand-held to get around the edges. Then wipe down the trim, tape it off, give it a few coats of white paint, and remove the tape. THEN I can finally start with putting down the new floors. It’s sort of an overwhelming amount of work, but it’s also really methodical and satisfying. Putting down the boards is actually kind of fun. I’m really glad I went with an engineered hardwood over a regular laminate with a set number of board patterns. I love opening a new box and seeing the different grains and colors of the boards.

I’m using this project as an excuse to drastically pare down on what we keep in each room. When I put F’s room back together, I moved back all the necessary furniture and then just a couple of toys. I want M’s room to be similarly minimalistic. (Though, in the photo above, I hadn’t finished moving furniture back into the room — it won’t be THAT bare!) It makes the rooms feel so much calmer, and toys actually get played with instead of just strewn around. It’s been much easier to remove everything from a room and then put back only what we love instead of standing in a full room and trying to decide what to take out. Some toys we’ll be selling at a garage sale (to get some $$ for our trip to South Dakota this summer!), but most of them are just boxed up, either to eventually rotate them back into the mix or to see whether or not they’re ever missed. It’s a nice change!

Nature Girl

What a place to be a kid, huh? We have really been enjoying this sweet spot in the Minnesota year — there are ticks (but they haven’t been bad at all, so far), but none of the flying, biting bugs are out yet. It’s been so pest-free, in fact, that I keep fooling myself into believing that the flies and mosquitoes just might not come around this year. (I know that won’t be the case!)

Our lawn is full of dandelions right now — so pretty! I always felt pressure to dig them up when I lived in the city, but of course that would be completely futile and pointless out here. And they’re good for the bees. So we just enjoy our sea of little yellow flowers.

The other two photos are in our “new” area (not at all new, but we just started visiting it), full of rocks and small birches. The perfect place to climb around and think about fairies, if you’re three and a half! I’d like to get our big weed whacker out there to remove the tall and dead grasses, so it’s easier for short people to get to. I especially like that it feels like we’re in the woods, but it’s close enough to the house that the baby monitor still works when F is having a nap!

I’ve fallen behind on my egg counts, but we had three on Saturday, two on Sunday, and yesterday there were two, but one had a paper-thin shell and was broken. I’ve topped up their bowl of oyster shells — I hope that was a one-time thing!

Sunday Crafts

M and I broke out the watercolors on Mother’s Day. I was just playing around, which drew M over, and soon she was painting too. She painted a pink fairy (those little blue circles are its wings, and its head is floating above its body), a blue bird, and a blue flower. I love her pictures!

We also painted some little peg people. I painted seven of them in the Waldorf day-of-the-week colors, just in case we someday want to use them that way, although for now we’re just playing with them. (I started calling the green one Greeny, which of course led to the rest of them being called Orangey, Bluey, etc… I didn’t think about what would happen to our naming scheme when we got to the white one!). M painted the eighth one, and we named him Rainbow. I took the photo before I gave them a coat of beeswax polish, but they look really nice now. I never would have thought to use watercolors to paint wood, but that’s how M painted the fairies she made at Heartfelt. Such a nice look!

Garden 2017, Part Two

It’s not exactly overflowing with a bounteous harvest yet, but it looks better than a month ago, doesn’t it? Fairly soon after that last post, I tilled rows and covered them with good quality landscape fabric. Then I waited for cold, rainy day after cold, rainy day to pass. It’s been delightfully spring-y lately, though, and yesterday was borderline hot.

We visited the local nursery to buy a replacement plum tree (my Toka plum is doing great, but the other one — and they need two to pollinate — died a couple of years ago) and some veggie plants. It still feels a little early to plant tomatoes, but I got two to start with, and we’ll either replace or add to them in a week or two. We’re right on the zone 3/4 border, so you never know which way it’ll swing! My Mother’s Day present was spending F’s afternoon nap in the garden with M, who had a great time running through the sprinkler in her bare feet.

I’ve got four main rows in the garden now. On the left (the one with the mulch) there are mostly perennials, so far. My rhubarb is right at the front, then two new blueberry plants, then two herbs (thyme and oregano) that should come back year after year. At the front of the next row is broccoli, with tomatoes down at the back. The mulched section along the back fence, connecting the first two rows, is going to be for squash/melons. I think we’ll grow pumpkins this year, as that would be fun for M. The next row has onions at the front (in those strips) and cabbage at the back. And the final row is all potatoes. My strawberries are in the back right corner, and the front right corner (which you can’t see) is full of raspberry canes. They’re from the few surviving canes that I brought up from Minneapolis, and they sure have taken hold and spread!

It’s getting to the point, as I begin planting things, that I can see in my mind’s eye how it’ll look in another month or two. Fun!

Home Again!

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”!

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!