Wheeling and Dealing: The Wheels on the Bus

I’ve started a weird habit, guys.

This morning, The Toddler and I drove up to the Rocky River Nature Center (highly recommend if you’re in Northeast Ohio!) for a quick hike and playtime at the center itself, which is free and houses a small animal exhibit, an awesome tree-themed playhouse, and a few really big, climbable animal models, plus a bird-and-bee viewing area and a big deck over the river where you can watch wildlife. God love the Cleveland Metroparks.

We had a great time, slowly scaling the 150 or so steps of the Fort Hill Stairs (The Toddler repeating, “Step. Step. Step.” and flatly ignoring several high-five invitations from fellow climbers) before doing a few laps through the nature center to admire the taxidermy and live animals on display.

On our way back to the car afterward to fulfill The Toddler’s three-string-cheese snack quota (Every. Day. I realize this probably isn’t good, but he also eats his weight in fruit and it seems to be the only thing keeping him from exploding from all that fiber. But I digress and overshare.) Anyway, on our walk back through the parking lot, we came across two school buses parked and vacant of children, with their drivers hanging out.

The Toddler is obsessed with school buses (and tractors, and bulldozers, etc.), so I walked him toward the buses for a closer look. I pointed out the wheels, the stop sign, etc., and we were standing close enough that the drivers took notice. One of them asked us if we wanted to climb aboard to see the inside of the bus.

In a voice that I hoped communicated surprise (feigned) and gratitude (sincere), I said, “Really?! Oh, [Toddler], do you want to get on the bus? Thank you!”

So we climbed aboard and The Toddler spent a few delighted minutes walking up and down the aisles, sitting on the seats and pointing at the steering wheel. It made his day.

Which is great.

And which is also the second time this exact scenario has played out in the past week.

Last week, we were at a closer-to-home park where two buses were waiting for a middle school cross country team to finish its practice. A kindly bus driver who was waiting for her infant grandson to come visit with her daughter invited us aboard.

Both times, the drivers were really gracious and seemed genuinely excited to have a toddler on board. The first was emphatic that she encourages young kids to hop on the bus whenever they show interest because it helps alleviate eventual first day of school jitters.

And it makes The Toddler’s day when we get to do this. I’m just going to have to figure out how to keep up this new hobby of ours without becoming the creep who loiters outside of every parked bus I find.

bus
The Toddler’s happy place
Wheeling and Dealing: The Wheels on the Bus

Night weaning: A hard-fought victory

This announcement guarantees that last night’s sleep training success will be short-lived, but it feels so monumental that I cannot pretend it didn’t happen, even if it the victory is fleeting.

The Toddler slept from 7:45 p.m. to 5:55 a.m. With no wakings, no nursing, no tears.

You guys.

This is huge.

Sleep has been our family’s battleground for the past 15 months. Yes, breastfeeding was rough at first, but since we figured that out, sleep has been my white whale, my Sisyphean boulder, my biggest source of frustration and guilt and (of course) exhaustion as a parent. Ever since that little balogna loaf decided he wouldn’t sleep unless we were armpit to shoulder and boob to face at a week old, I’ve been daydreaming about the day I could put him in his crib with a, “See you in the morning!” and have it come true.

First it was months and months of first terrifying (thanks, unhelpful public health campaigns!) then resigned, then generally tolerable but still quite limiting and often uncomfortable bedsharing, then a month or two of his crib “side-carred” to our bed, then that fourth wall up and the crib in our room, then the big jump of the crib back to his room, and there we stalled for about the past five months.

We hit wave after wave of colds or teething in between brief but delicious spells where he’d drift off to sleep peacefully, waking once at about 3 a.m. for a quick nursing session before easily going back to bed. The fact he could do that made me start believing I might be able to convince him he could make it a few more hours.

Well, couldn’t… not by myself. It’s just been too easy to nurse him back to sleep when I’m still 60% asleep during his night wakings.

So we waited until The Husband was on spring break from work and didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. and enlisted him to be the night time hammer for the week. Usually, The Toddler screams in frustration if The Dad shows up during a night waking and points at the door until I relent, relieving The Dad of his duty, administering the night nursing. Not this week.

It was rough. The first four nights were hard going for The Dad and The Toddler. Lying in bed across the hall, I didn’t get much sleep, either, between the loud crying and the guilt. But we stuck it out. Even on the fourth night, when at 3 a.m. I decided to give The Husband a break and went in, I managed to refuse to nurse. The Toddler was enraged, but he eventually fell asleep. The Husband slept in a little in the mornings, and The Toddler took 3.5 hour naps every day this week (admittedly a bit of a silver lining through all this.)

Then last night, because I suspected he wasn’t really getting that much milk at his pre-bedtime nursing session, leading to that 3 a.m. wake up, and because I was hopeful for some success, I gave The Toddler a bottle of cow’s milk with his bedtime stories. He finished that off, then nursed, then gave me a hug and kiss good night (Oh my God, the best feeling ever, this new habit), and I left the room saying, “See you in the morning.”

And it worked! At least this once!

(I still slept fitfully, dreaming for the second night in a row about forgetting to take care of The Toddler the next day, and getting repeatedly awoken by our jerk cat who wants me to walk him to his full food bowl a few times a night because he likes the company?! But still, the potential for a full night’s sleep is closer than it has been since my second trimester.)

So. Here’s hoping this isn’t a fleeting taste of the rested life. The Toddler is just about done cutting his last canine, and we’re almost through cold season (though I know that’s a bit of a misnomer/pipe dream for someone who still licks food off the floor), so maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally start getting some sleep.

A girl can dream, right?

goodmorning
Good morning snuggles from the boy who slept through the night. Big thanks to his dad for enduring a nearly sleepless spring break. ❤ ❤
Night weaning: A hard-fought victory

The kids are all right

On Saturday, The Husband and I left The Toddler with Grandma and drove an hour and a half into the heart of Amish country to pick up three young Nigerian Dwarf goats we found online. Their owner was selling them as almost year-old wethers (the name for neutered male goats), as she has milk goats and her herd was getting too big.

We ended up cramming the poor guys into a dog crate in the back of my Subaru hatchback because we need to do some repair work to the cool but temperamental old yellow 1972 Ford F250 we co-own with our friends. The ride home was a quiet but tense one, The Husband gripping the steering wheel and doing his best to keep the turns smooth and slow on the winding back roads, carefully passing Amish families in buggies while the goats stumbled around in an increasing puddle of urine in their crate. Not an ideal way to start the relationship, I’m sure, but they were exceedingly patient with us.

They arrived at our house and we corralled them into an area we have cordoned off with portable electric fencing very near our house. This is one of the big garden beds my grandparents used to manage, but which has over the past decade or two become utterly overrun with poison ivy, wild roses, blackberry bushes and feral garlic (from the time my grandmother threw some old, sprouting garlic cloves out her window. Advice: Do not do this. All last spring and summer the overwhelming scent of garlic wafted through our windows.)

Anyway, to answer a few questions we’ve been getting:

  • The goats’ main purpose is to help us manage this overgrowth (they prefer “browse” or “forage” to pasture–they like reaching above their heads to eat, more like deer than cattle. So the brambles and vines and saplings are prime eating for them.) They will also serve as pets. Also, their poop makes great fertilizer. Also, they’re pretty cute.
  • We have no interest at present in running a dairy. Nigerian Dwarf goats are bred for milk, but you have to breed goats about annually to keep the milk flowing, and breeding goats brings an overwhelming element to the adventure that we’re not willing to entertain right now: stinky, aggressive bucks (non-neutered males), helping with deliveries and keeping kids alive in the dead of winter, when they’re usually born, twice-daily milking and figuring out what to do with all those extra goats.
  • We haven’t picked new names for them. They’re still pretty leery of us (they were quite friendly toward their former owner, but being a year old and only with us for a few days so far, they’re taking their time warming up to us). So we’re keeping their old names for now in hopes that a little consistency in that regard helps open the lines of communication. I’m not going to get into what the currently are, because it’s kind of a longer story than you’d think, but we’ll let you know when we settle on new ones.
  • The Toddler adores them. He can see them out his bedroom window, and they have been added to the good night tour each night along with the chicks.
  • The Dog, poor Louise, got a nose full of the (honestly potentially not strong enough, it feels only slightly worse than getting a static shock from socks on a rug) electric fence when she first encountered the goats, and holds me personally responsible. She’s avoided eye contact with me since Saturday.

Here are some photos for your enjoyment… I hope as the goats get more used to us, there will be better shots, but I can’t get very close right now (and if I am, I have a spoonful of molasses in one hand and a lead in the other, which doesn’t make for easy photography.)

Nigerian dwarf
One of the guys before we brought him home. (Behind him is one of the bucks from the herd, saying his goodbyes.)
Nigerian dwarf goats
The boys stayed shoulder to shoulder the whole first day they arrived, but did nibble on some forage.
Nigerian dwarves exploring
This photo is from today. They like to stand on that falling down fence, and here they are nibbling some wild roses. Get it, guys!
Tucking in for the night
This is where they sleep in the barn at night. Check out my Instagram @arkayokay to watch a video of them basically sprinting to the barn on leads as I try to mimic the “praise voice” their former owner used (embarrassing).
20170326_194730
The apparent leader of the herd in his favorite spot. They started to let me get a little closer today so long as I sat still.

In chick news, the girls are getting bigger and bolder and feathering out nicely. I bring them a treat each day (either hard boiled eggs… yep, the original chick feed, as weird as it sounds, or smashed chick peas, or raisins or freeze dried meal worms, but eggs are their No. 1 jam) and they hop into my hand and go nuts. A couple of them have even been testing out the mini perches we put in their brood box. So cute!

They also survived an attempted massacre by my cat while we were out picking up the goats. Fortunately, everyone was accounted for soon after we got home. We have reinforced the boxes to keep that from happening again (I hope.)

In parenting news, The Toddler is 15 months old now. He’s absolutely a toddler, exploring everything, throwing tantrums, picking up more and more words (his current favorite word is “gouda.” Ha!) and being equal parts heart-explodingly sweet and unbelievably challenging. I am addicted to his hugs.

This week, The Husband is on spring break from school so we’re finally working on a gentle approach to night weaning. (Yeah, I know a lot of moms figure this one out 6 or 10 months in or whatever, but we’ve been lazy and he’s been down to one quick nurse a night unless he’s sick or teething.) Anyway, every night the husband is “on duty” no matter what for an increasingly longer amount of time. Usually if I send him in, The Toddler screams and points at the door for me until we cave, but he’s going to have to take comfort with his dad for longer and longer period of time until he figures out we can’t all get 3 a.m. milkshakes every night.

Speaking of 3 a.m. milkshakes, The Toddler’s dwindling need to nurse, coupled with my persistent attachment to frozen yogurt and string cheese and buttery toast, means I’m starting to gain back a little of the baby weight that fell off so easily from breastfeeding. So today starts a conscious effort to pay attention to my appetite and get some exercise. I went running outside for the first time in eons. It felt like I was running with a backpack full of bowling balls, but I got through it and it felt good to break a sweat. Here’s hoping my saying it on the Internet will help me stick to it.

Time for a very desperately needed shower! Until next time.

The kids are all right

Cooped up with kids (and life is sweet)

Good morning, Internet! As I’ve alluded… we’re going through some exciting additions to TLMB household and I’m thinking of shifting gears to a more hobby farm/parenting blog… workshopping the title, which I hope will make sense to you soon as it is basically one clever turn of phrase after another.

Cooped up

I have been up since 3 a.m. with inexplicable insomnia. Except it’s not really inexplicable… If I’m being honest, it’s a shadow of the sleeplessness I felt waiting for The Baby to arrive, fed in equal parts by sheer excitement and my obsessive need to plan. Because, my friends, in two short days I will be welcoming six new babies into my house.

Fluffy little chicken babies.

dominique_chicken
Dominique chicken By gunthercox (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Yes, The Husband and I are taking the leap into hobby farming with a half dozen chicks, who will, if luck prevails, provide us abundant eggs and entertainment.

I’ve trawled chicken blogs, researched breeds, assembled a brood box (though I still have to finish the second one and build a “chunnel” today), bought feed and bedding and heat lamps. We thought about building a coop, but after careful reflection on our carpentry skills and less than ample free time, we decided to buy a ready-made one that is now waiting for us at Tractor Supply to see if we can get our old yellow truck started to pick it up. (Note: A Subaru Impreza hatchback is not large enough to transport an 8 chicken-sized coop, even unassembled.)

First thing Tuesday morning, The Baby, my brother and I will head over to Grace Brothers Nursery to pick up the girls (which, despite its lackluster website is a great small business… and while we’re now closer to the North Royalton location I highly recommend anyone on the West side of Cleveland check out their urban farm shop on W. 65th.)

We’ll get some combination of the following breeds, selected for their temperament, hardiness, size, egg production and status (as available) as heritage/threatened breeds:

  • Golden Buffs (apparently a.k.a. Golden Comets or Red sexlinks, I think). This is a hybrid bird, and the sexlink means that female chicks are one color while males are another. They are bred to lay a lot of eggs.
  • Buff Orpingtons. These are extremely common, extremely big/puffy, and known in chicken circles as the “golden retriever of chickens” for their friendly, easygoing demeanor.
  • Dominiques. This is the breed I’m most excited about, as they are among the oldest American breeds, developed by some of the first European settlers to North America. Their barred black and white feathers provide camouflage against predators, they are extremely active foragers, very cold hardy and friendly. They’re also medium sized, I think about on-par with the Golden Buffs.
  • Silver-Laced Wyandottes. These are probably the showiest of our selection… check out those feathers. They’re big like the buff orpingtons and cold hardy, too. Perusing the chicken forums, I suspect these might have the greatest potential to be less friendly, but they’re still considered pretty easygoing and docile.

The chicks will spend about 6-8 weeks indoors getting bigger and growing feathers before they move out to their coop. I’m excited to see how The Toddler takes to them! (Don’t panic: No small children or dogs or cats will be left unattended with the flock. Handwashing precautions and kissing bans will be in place to prevent salmonella.)

So that’s the news in chickens.

With kids.

We still just have the one human kid (15 months old now. How?!) But in a week, we’ll be adding three literal kids to the family. Goat kids.

The Husband and I found three Nigerian Dwarf wethers (neutered males) available for sale from a lovely woman who lives in deep Amish Country, about an hour and a half south of us. We went to “interview” them a couple weeks ago and decided we had found the pets/weed eaters for us. They’re actually almost a year old, so maybe not kids much longer, but they’re super cute!

nigerdwarfgoat
Nigerian Dwarf goats. Ours have different coloring, but you get the idea. Cute! HoppingRabbit34 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
No, we’re not doing dairy goats. I know we’re already teetering on “more than we can handle” territory and can’t imagine keeping up with milking, let alone having to breed regularly and deal with newborn kids. And no, despite our jokes and hypothetical talks last summer when this crazy idea first crossed our minds, we’re not raising them for meat. They’re going to eat all our poison ivy and wild roses and enjoy the sunshine and sleep in the barn.

What I’m most nervous about with goat ownership is parasite/worm control. There is definitely a learning curve, but the woman selling the goats has already been really helpful in sharing resources, and we’ve been doing a lot of research and reading on our own. There’s no greater teacher than experience, though, right?

So on Saturday, we’ll go get our little herd. Today we will be setting up the electric fence and finishing setting up their barn stall and outdoor shelter to keep them out of the rain. And finding a mouse-proof place to keep the goat pellets we bought that isn’t the dining room.

More on goats as the story develops.

And life is sweet.

beekeeper

Our smallest new charges will arrive by the thousands in April. This is the piece of the hobby farm pie I’m most nervous about, as it seems you need an advanced degree to keep up with all the maintenance and disease prevention, but we’re going to start beekeeping.

We’ve been taking classes with the Medina Beekeepers Association over the past month, learning about bee anatomy and hive dynamics and mites and pollen and honey. While it will be really nice to have fresh honey if it works out, I feel a moral duty to at least try to take on this task, as honey bees continue to die out and be threatened by insecticides and pesticides and mites.

I don’t have much more to say about beekeeping yet because I still have so much to figure out, but by late April we’ll have the hives installed, and if the weather conditions are right, we might be able to harvest a little honey by the end of the season.

So there you have it. Our little homestead is taking shape, and my days of reading books and folding laundry and freelancing will also be days of sweeping a coop, trimming hooves and checking hives. It’s going to be a big change for our family, and thus a big shift in topic matter for the blog. I hope you don’t mind. Stick around–if for nothing else than the many, many pictures of baby chickens I’ll inevitably post in the coming weeks.

 

 

Cooped up with kids (and life is sweet)

Surfacing

Winter-window
The Toddler and I were both clawing at the walls last week.

There’s something about winter that presses down on me every year and makes me feel incapable. And not just incapable of achieving goals but of having original thoughts. I don’t even really hate winter, but after noticing a pattern the last 3-4 years, I have to acknowledge that it really gets to me.

Which is why I’m super relishing the unseasonably warm weekend we just had and the week that is ahead, even if it probably points to the catastrophic, irreversible climate change we’re pretending as a country is not happening. (But that’s a train of thought for another post. I can’t think and talk about politics all the time. I just said winter makes me depressed as hell.)

The reason I’ve mustered the strength to think about getting back to blogging, beyond the nice weather and sunshine we’ve had lately, is that our household has finally emerged, still sniffling a little, from two weeks of snotty, coughing, sleepless hell. The Toddler (new nickname. Catchy, right?) caught it first, either from licking every toy at the library or from a birthday party we attended. He started excreting more mucus than seemed possible, quit eating much in the way of solid foods, and coughed his way pitifully through the night.

Immediately, the amazing progress he had made learning to fall and stay asleep by himself, vanished like it had never existed.

Then The Husband caught it, so night duty became my exclusive purview for a few nights.  At least I’m not sick, I thought, trying to console myself when The Toddler called out for me the fifth time in as many hours.

A few days later, of course, that was no longer the case. In the middle of all this, bless his little heart, The Toddler cut THREE TEETH — two molars and a canine. So even when he was starting to recover from his cold, he woke screaming from tooth pain. And even when The Husband wanted to help with night wakings, he couldn’t. Only MOM. (Technically, only MOM’S BOOBS.) I absolutely spent some of those night wakings crying while he nursed, and most of the others gritting my teeth and trying not to be a resentful asshole to either The Toddler or The Husband, neither of whom really deserved any blame for this miserable situation.

I was sleeping like I had been when he was a newborn. Even the mess was similar, though instead of pooping hourly he was vomiting hot mucus all over me whenever he nursed at night. The days felt endlessly long because I was too tired to do much and we were quarantined from going anywhere, because cursed be the parent who brings this cold to another family.

He’s had a cold before, and I remember being this spent before. It breaks you down so that you don’t even realize how broken you are. It feels hopeless and eternal.

But then the night before last, he only woke up twice. He even puked the second time, soaking me down to my underpants in breastmilk and snot. But you guys: He slept in until 7:45. And then he napped for another solid 2.5 hour stretch yesterday.

Last night was even better. It’s 6:45 a.m. and I’m alone. He’s not awake yet. He’s truly feeling better and starting to catch up on his deep, deep sleep deficit. I’m glad for him, because of course it breaks my heart to see him in pain, but if I’m being honest, I’m also super excited for me. I feel like I’m surfacing from two weeks of barely treading water.

It feels so good to feel good again.

(If any of this sounds like nonsense, I remind you that I’m super rusty in the blogging game.) Also, in other news, I made my first Etsy sale on my Granny’s stuff, we’re starting to play  “Are we really doing this” chicken regarding actually getting goats this spring and I think it’s happening for real, and having a sick toddler made me wonder sincerely how anyone keeps two or more children alive at any given point.)

Surfacing

March and a haircut

If you’ve been following along, you know that the election sent me into a deep, persisting feeling of hopelessness, and that after an initial burst of inspiration to become an activist, I settled in to wallow for the long haul, because what difference can I make?

That remains to be seen, but I decided to march in Cleveland’s sister march to the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday. I also decided to bring The Baby.

Unpaid protester. #womensmarchcleveland #lovetrumpshate #whyimarch

A photo posted by Reanna (@arkayokay) on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:16am PST

I’m so glad I decided to go. I walked with a few friends (one of whom was also wearing her baby), and was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of peaceful but defiant women (and plenty of men!) There were amazing signs and an amazing vibe. Cleveland Police confirmed that about 15,000 people marched.

#womensmarchcleveland #makeamericaclevelandagain

A photo posted by Reanna (@arkayokay) on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:27am PST

I remember reading somewhere on Instagram as I perused the #womensmarchcleveland someone talking about how the election had made them feel lonely, and that the march was an antidote. I related very much to this sentiment. My values may not be represented in the White House right now but they’re sure as hell represented by the millions of people who are angry, sad and worried enough to protest around the country and around the world. I need to keep this in mind in the coming days, months and years as I do my best to fight for these values.

Okay, enough politics. That was the exhilarating part of my weekend. Now onto the traumatic.

We cut The Baby’s hair today. (And by “we,” yes, I mean his father and I actually did the cutting after watching a few Youtube tutorials. The results are not terrible considering how much a 13-month-old moves.)

The Husband has been pushing for this trim for awhile now, and I pushed back. The Baby’s bangs were starting to get in his eyes, and he had what appeared to be wings sprouting from the sides of his head. And also some sweet curls in the back that I liked to cradle in my palm like the feathers on a baby bird or twirl in my fingers while he nursed. I’ve heard moms get sentimental about baby hair before, and I GET IT NOW.

The resistance to cutting his hair felt almost visceral to me. Once it was over, my fears were confirmed: He’s really, really, really not a baby any more. I know hair grows back–maybe the curls will return–but time only marches forward, and babies don’t keep.

At the start of the haircut, we dropped one wispy curl into a little silver keepsake box someone gave us at our baby shower. It’s a lovely little box, and a beautiful little curl, but altogether it’s just a time capsule, an inadequate memento from a time I wish I could freeze forever and step into whenever I want.

 

March and a haircut

Greetings from an old mom

Hey, Internet.

Last I left you, I was feeling overwhelmed with my life and despondent about the turn of events in American politics. I decided to take a breather from blogging because it felt like one more thing I was failing at, and that’s a pretty bummer outlook on something that was supposed to be a fun hobby.

I found some time today, so I thought I’d do a quick catch-up post. No promises that this will be followed up with any consistency. In no particular order, here’s what’s up.

I don’t think I can call myself a new mom anymore.

The Baby turned one year old on Christmas Day. We threw him a hell of a party earlier in the month, complete with a fire code-violating guest list (sorry, all our guests), a cameo from our friendly neighborhood Santa Claus, some damn good gingerbread cupcakes if I do say so myself, and a near nervous breakdown from yours truly. It went great, we had a blast, but I have a longstanding inability to acknowledge my own social anxiety or remember that I don’t really like hosting things until I’m elbows deep in gingerbread cupcake batter with dustbunnies and laundry strewn about the house and a squalling toddler with a pretty sizeable cold.

In addition to ramming through that one year milestone, The Baby has mastered walking, running, walking backwards, tripping, climbing things and getting into everything. Lately I’ve been looking back at those days in the 4-6 month stretch that seemed so impossible to get through with longing… It used to be I could put The Baby down and he’d be exactly where I left him. Now, I put  him down and find him 37 seconds later having emptied a box of tissues, eaten and vomited a few up, and emptying the contents of my dresser onto the dog’s bed.

We also are officially past the cosleeping era, which is wonderful and also a little bit sad. The Baby still wakes up once a night to nurse, which I’m generally OK with. The times that a cold or teething have messed up his sleep have been rough, because he won’t cosleep anymore. The couple of times I’ve tried to bring him back to my bed so I can get some sleep, he has promptly stood up and proceeded to stomp around threateningly toward the edge of the bed until I con The Husband to taking over the go-back-to-sleep routine.

I’m still just as tired as I ever was, but for different reasons.

My house is a prison.

Not really, of course, but it’s winter in Northeast Ohio and today’s wind chill upon waking was somewhere around -12. When you’re a toddler on the move, this is unacceptable. I’ve had to really, really commit to getting out of the house for a good, long errand every morning to keep both of us from going totally nuts. This has taken more and more creativity because I will bankrupt us switching back and forth between Target and the grocery store.

I bought a punch card for the local rec center and have gone a few days since mid-December. I drop The Baby off at the little daycare room there and actively ignores/avoids me as soon as his feet hit the floor, preferring to ambush any other children there to steal their toys and try to bump heads with them (which is what he thinks hugging is).

I skipped this week because TB has a cold (again) and I’m anticipating insane post-New Year’s crowds, but next week that will be back in the rotation because it really wears us both out nicely. (God, it feels good to exercise again. I’m slow as hell, but that indoor track is like heaven.)

I also ventured into an off-brand Chuck E. Cheese-like indoor playground that’s right around the corner from my house. I’ve avoided it thus far because it looks sketchy AF. We went yesterday, and I can confirm it is pretty sketchy (I saw more duct tape than I’d like to see, and the netting under all the climby-tube things had a LOT of debris), but The Baby loved it. And the whole time we were there nobody emptied out all the drawers in the kitchen. Four dollars well spent.

Today, we managed to make it out to The Rainforest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. This was The Baby’s second visit, though he was just about 3 months old the last time, so he was far more interested in the animals than the last time. That doesn’t mean a whole lot, as we spent 10 minutes climbing and descending a small set of stairs and entirely ignoring the underwater exhibit they led to, but again: nobody trashed anything at my house while we were there. Score.

I’ve come up for air with work (for now).

The end of the year remained fairly busy for freelancing, so it felt really good to not have to factor blog posts into my weekly to-do lists. I’m in a little bit of a lull with that, but The Husband and I recently redid our miles-long to-do list around the house. I reviewed my billing for 2016, and while I wasn’t trying to make big bucks, I was a little surprised to see how much work I actually managed to do.

Now that I’m out of the newborn phase of things and it’s clear how much The Baby wants to get out of the house and around other kids, I’m looking forward to trying part-time child care again (abandoned in October because of constant colds, and yes, this is a possibility again, but maybe his immune system is a little stronger by now?). Anyway, I think it’s time to start sending him off into the world a little more so I can spend more time writing (for money), designing (for money), and putting things back in drawers in peace.

It’s time to admit failure.

I was pretty gung-ho about getting more civically/politically active in the wake of the presidential election. I even mapped out what seemed to be a manageable plan for educating myself and taking appropriate action. Here’s the thing, Internet. I’m just not there yet. I still aspire to do better, to become more informed and more active, but I just don’t have it in me right now. I know that’s a lazy excuse and it makes me feel really terrible to say it, especially after I publicly declared my intentions, but I overestimated what I’m psychically, mentally and physically capable of doing right now. I’m still trying to take steps where I can, donating, signing petitions, contacting elected officials, and maybe I’ll pick it back up later on, but right now I’m still just deflated and feeling ineffectual. Sorry.

Okay, that’s about it for now. Maybe I’ll see you again soon! In the meantime, stay warm, stay active, and stay out of my kitchen drawers!!!

Greetings from an old mom