Family Room

I wonder if the family room will ever feel totally “settled”. When we moved in, it was a huge space. I’m not even sure what the dimensions were, but it ran from the front of the house to the back and was wide, as well. During the summer of 2015, we split it in half and turned the front half into my bedroom (F eventually moved into my old bedroom). The remaining family room space was more contained and cozier and felt more useful.

I shuffled the furniture around a little while ago, swapped the sitting area and the kid area to give more space to the kid stuff (the slate tile in front of the patio door not being super play-friendly). I really like it now! It feels much brighter in the room now that the dark bookcases aren’t under the window anymore. It’s still pretty full of furniture, despite moving the love seat out to the barn, but I prefer that to big, empty expanses. The shelves behind the table (the left side of the second photo) house all of M’s home-preschool materials, and the rest of her area is her little kitchen and other “dramatic play” stuff.

We’ve been playing down here much more regularly since the shuffle. I love sitting on the sofa now that I can look out the patio door! Now we just have to teach F that the play food in the kitchen is just for PRETEND eating.

Toys

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I mentioned M’s current Littlest Pet Shop love in my last post. Small animals are her thing! Despite constantly despairing over the number of toys (and plastic ones at that) in the house, I bought her this play set recently, and it’s been a big hit. She already had a bunch of the pets, and now they have somewhere to live. Anything that sparks her imagination and can keep her entertained for stretches of time is a win, in my mind.

Yesterday, I pulled out the big box of My Little Pony and Barbies from my own childhood. We’ve looked at them before, but this was the first time M really seemed to lock on to the fact that these were TOYS and fun ones, at that. I was quite surprised that she gave the Barbies any time at all (she’s never cared about baby dolls — it’s always been animals with her), although she mostly just wanted their furniture for the ponies. She was heartbroken when I said it was time to clean it all up, so I think she’ll want to drag that box out again — and soon!

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!

Lovey Doodles

I’ve been posting doodles on my public Instagram (@twelve22org), and I often wind up asking M what I should draw. One her favorite subjects is Kitty Cat Doll, because obviously — KCD is her best buddy and all. I thought it might be fun to draw other loveys, too. If your child (or whoever!) has a beloved object, I’d be happy for the doodle-inspiration. Just send me a photo (you could post it on Instagram and @ me or send me a message either over Instagram or e-mail — I’m on gmail: anna.torborg). And while loveys would be particularly fun — I assume most kids are like M and get a kick out of seeing them in various forms — I’m happy to take any doodle suggestions you’ve got!

Beeswax

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We got a fun package yesterday! I had ordered a few things from Amazon — some Stockmar modeling beeswax, a candle-making kit, and a book about honeybees. We’re loving it all! We haven’t played with the modeling wax TOO much yet — I made that little bee in the photo, and that’s about it. But M asked to read the book last night and again tonight. She’s in a bit of a non-fiction phase! This book (along with her other current favorites, some books about body systems) are a little above her level, but I read the most interesting parts, and she’s just fascinated by it.

The beeswax candles have been a huge hit. I’m going to need to order more, soon! She’s the creative director (i.e., picks the colors), and I cut the wax and wick, get it started, and then she rolls them up. We made a bunch after breakfast today, and she kept thinking of more and more people whom she needed to make candles for. She’s also enjoyed watching the flame. (Or as she says, “We have to put the thing on top.”) The first candles we made weren’t very tall, so we got to see what happened when the wick ran out. Such a great reminder that so much is new to a little kid — and so much of it is fun!

On a Mission

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F turned seven months old almost a week ago, and a few days before that, it was like she set out on a mission to Grow Up. Her two bottom teeth poked through, first. Then she went from refusing purées to eating, like, meals of table food. She often eats more than M did when M was a year old and surviving on real food alone. F’s interest in food quickly turned into a determination to master the pincer grasp. She’s still trying to perfect it, but she’s come a long way. It’s been amazing to see the idea pop into her head and to watch her actively work to make it happen.

She’s also been focussed on crawling, though she hasn’t quite gotten it yet. It’s hard to leave her sitting anywhere, because she immediately flips to her hands and knees to try to crawl away. And then winds up flopping around on her tummy. Soon, though. Then we’d better watch out!

Doodles

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I have a new (public) Instagram account, which will be mainly doodles, with the odd photo thrown in. I’m trying to get back into the habit of drawing regularly and also trying to learn Adobe Illustrator and Draw. So if you want to see my silly sketches, hop on over. My user name is twelve22org.

Chickens and Things

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It’s really winter for real, isn’t it? We had a string of Very Cold days, the kind that, when it returns to “just freezing” outside, makes you think, “Ah, it feels pretty good out here!” I’m so glad that I got the big coop in the barn built this year. The chickens are staying warmer (they have a huge, south-facing window to let in the warm sunlight), and they have much more room to mill around. They’ve had no interest in going out into the snow, which to me is a sign that they’re content indoors. The worst of the hens’ molting seems to be over, and now I’ve got two hens laying again. Last year, I had enough eggs to make myself a big angel food cake for my birthday — not so much, this year! Luckily, I still have a few quiches in the freezer from this spring. M won’t eat them (too delicious?), but I thawed one recently and had it for several breakfasts (and one lunch) in a row.

The girls have been sick for over a week and a half, and we’ve been house-bound almost that long. Out of boredom, I went through a box of my personal ephemera — mostly pretty things that I’ve had up on bulletin boards at various points of my life. I found my animal drawings from several years ago, though, when I was planning to make a little book titled (something like) Animal Facts (and/or Lies). I hadn’t seen them in quite a while, and I was happy that I still found most of them funny. I think I might have to do something with these, after all.

Earlier this week, M got a surprise package from the delivery man. Puzzles! Her great-uncle (and my godfather) had sent them to her, saving another dull day just in the nick of time. These were her biggest puzzles to date — two 60-piece jigsaws and one 48-piece. I had to help her a little with one, as there was a lot of similar-looking greenery, but otherwise she did them all herself. It was the first time where I got a little spooked by her uncanny ability to know where pieces go, since the puzzles were brand new to her, and they weren’t familiar characters (ie, Paw Patrol). Lots of fun for my little puzzler!

Puzzle Master

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M loves puzzles. She has… a LOT of puzzles. I actually put them all away for a while because I’d gotten tired of there being puzzles everywhere, but she’s gone back to her puzzlin’ ways recently. The little 24-piece puzzle she’s doing above came in an ornament that we got yesterday — she got it put together pretty quickly. The girl’s pattern recognition skills are on point. (She put together the seven puzzles in the second photo in the time it took me to put F down for a nap one day.)

I haven’t been able to find very many 48-piece puzzles at the same price point as 24-piece ones. I think we might have to skip to looking for 100-piece puzzles at the thrift store, and we can work on them together for now. I really like doing jigsaws, too, but it’s one of those past times that’s fallen by the wayside since I had babies. But soon we’ll just make it a family activity!

Walnut Cookies

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It’s cookie season! We’re making sugar cookies today, with my friend Julie, but I made peanut butter blossoms and these walnut cookies yesterday. The recipe for the latter came from an old Martha Stewart Christmas Cookie magazine, but I also found it here! It’s definitely a keeper. I made half a batch but followed the recipe exactly, otherwise. I made the dough Sunday evening, put it in the freezer overnight, and baked them the next morning. (I found that it was easier to slice the cookies and roll the edges of each in walnuts vs trying to get them to stick to the entire log.) It’s basically a shortbread type of cookie, but the walnuts and cream cheese give it a much more interesting flavor.

We had snow on Sunday and then more — unexpectedly — yesterday. Big, fat flakes at one point. So M and I spent the day doing quality control on the cookies and taking turns saying, “Look at all that snow! Wow!”