Harvest Monday – 5/21/18

FINALLY. We have snap peas.

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I honestly thought it wasn’t going to happen this year. Normally, peas are an April or early May harvest for me. And normally, I have all the plants pulled by mid May to make room for my summer garden. Last week, blossoms finally began appearing on the pea stalks, which compelled me to give them a bit more time. They are occupying PRIME real estate in my garden and have been seriously dilly dallying this year. Those blossoms really sealed the deal last week and I found alternative space for my summer crops.

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I’ve been excitedly watching the peas form and grow. Yesterday evening, I picked a pea for Milo and he actually ATE it and said YUM! Regardless of how delicious sweet peas are, they are GREEN and Milo DOES.NOT.EAT.GREEN.THINGS. But these, he loved! I was so happy. Trying to get this child to eat a vegetable is one of the most challenging things about being his mama. Anyway, after I gave him a tutorial about how to pick peas (he has to use both hands – one to hold the connecting vine, and the other to pull the pea – – sadly, he forgot a few times which hand he needed to pull with and we lost a portion of the plant – – ahh… toddler coordination!). Once he figured out how to pick peas, he had such a great time picking them and eating them. And he didn’t really want to stop!  All evening, he kept asking me if we should go look for more peas.

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I finally got my garden harvest spreadsheet up and running. The unit of measure is grams. I have not been very diligent about harvesting when I should.

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In other news, we’ve been having some epic rain storms and Milo has been having a blast wading in the flooded street. Above is after the rain had gone down the storm drain but he still wanted to see where all the water had gone.

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In the past week, the sweet peas have finally produced blossoms…

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… broccoli heads have emerged…

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… the tomatoes have been caged…

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… the beans have popped up… and the pests have feasted…

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… and all the curcurbits have a home.

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Garden – May Update

The weather is finally consistently warmed up and the garden is coming alive. Everything seemed to take so long this year to wake up. Here is our new Hawthorne tree that we planted two years ago, almost fully leafed out.

I’ve gotten most everything planted. In the flowerbed in the photo below, I planted my pepper plants because the peas aren’t ready to vacate their space.

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Here’s the other end of the backyard, in a bit of disarray. It’s finally warm enough to bring out the pool and have some serious backyard water fun!

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And here are Milo and Josh enjoying yesterday’s warm evening. In the background, you can see that the lilac finally blossomed.

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The grapes also have buds on them. We have five grape vines and they’ve never produced grapes. Maybe this will finally be the year.

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And the plum trees are LOADED with plums. I’ve started the process of thinning them out.

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Veggie garden. The asparagus continues to come in strong. I don’t have any pictures of the harvests, but I am bringing in about 200-300 grams per week. Thusfar, I’ve harvested 1204 grams of asparagus. My garden harvest spreadsheet isn’t setup for the year yet, so I don’t have a fancy way to display that yet.

I’ve planted my tomatoes and still need to cage them.

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Of course, my tomato cages are currently supporting the sweet peas that normally would have done their thing and been completely pulled by now. At present, I have yet to see a single blossom and am not sure if we’ll see any peas form before the insanity of the summer heat kicks in.

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Along the garden fence, I’ve planted beans and am using some old lilac branches for the vines to climb up.

The only thing left to plant/sow are all of the squash & cucumbers. I’m not sure where they should be, since the peas are taking their sweet time.

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Here is the blackberry zone, completely overrun by grass and poppies. I’ve been meaning to smother the grass and try to dig up the poppies for years, but always prioritize other projects. Good thing blackberries are hardy and resilient because they get pretty neglected.

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Also, I just LOVE these poppies but they are in the worst place. This is the side of the house where the gas meter and air conditioning unit are hidden, and the poppies get no visibility. It’s such a travesty.

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And here is my sweet boy. This weekend, he went with me to vote in the primary elections during the early voting period at City Hall.

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My heart melts so much, he is such a sweetheart.

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Garden – April Update

Despite our relatively mild winter, everything seems to be coming up a bit later this spring. This past week, I’ve finally been able to harvest asparagus. For over a month, I’ve been anxiously checking on the asparagus bed, wondering if they had died. Last year, I was first harvesting asparagus in March. Late indeed.

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I’ve had two harvestings similar to the above photo, and it seems like what started as a trickle might become a more steady stream. The photo above was from yesterday, and below there are already more spears that I can harvest today (as evidenced by the photo below).

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Unfortunately, most of what is growing in my asparagus bed is an invasive weed, Whitetop, that seems to be everywhere in my neighborhood. It’s one of those weeds that, if you pick one, 5 million more pop up in its place. My neighbors across the fence have tried smothering it with thick layers of cardboard and wood chips, and the Whitetop seems to be flourishing in their yard more than ever. In the ornamental areas I am actually applying a weed killer – – very systematically cutting off the top of the plant and applying the weed killer directly to the cut portion of the plant. I feel so guilty about this because I don’t like to use chemicals but I don’t know what else to do.

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Anyway, I’ve got two beds of snap peas coming up. I direct sowed these in February, which is what I normally do, and they have taken a really long time to come up. If I were more organized, I’d be testing the temperature of the soil rather than just doing the same thing from year to year. Oh well.

There’s also some overwintered carrots in this bed that I haven’t pulled yet. We have a bearded dragon who likes to eat the greenery from carrots, so I’m growing these for her.

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Here is my overwintered chard and garlic chives. I’ve been feeding the bearded dragon (named Lizzy) all winter from our garden. She loves chard.

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I planted the broccoli several weeks ago and the plants seem very happy. I’ve also been feeding Lizzy broccoli leaves. There is also some oregano that has spread to this bed.

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The raspberry plants I planted last year are coming up and already are sending out suckers.

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So, this is interesting, last year’s rosemary is still growing strong. Typically rosemary is an annual here so I’m impressed that this one made it through the winter. I don’t remember what variety I bought last year but I wonder if it was a cold hardy variety.

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An overall view of the main veggie area. I’ve been doing a lot of weeding, but still there are weeds everywhere.

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Oh gosh, I forgot to mention that I put tomato cages around each of the asparagus crowns because Milo likes to play with his construction vehicles in my beds and has crushed a good number of asparagus spears. I’m hoping the cages will somehow prevent this. Of course, I’ve asked him not crush the spears and then have asked him to play in a different place in the garden, and this is basically like giving him a double dog dare to do the exact thing I want him not to do.

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Here are my tomato plants that I started from seed.

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And speaking of the care and feeding of bearded dragons, I’ve got a nice selection of ‘dragon salad’ plants that I started from seed. These plants I actually place in her enclosure and she eats directly from the plants. I rotate them out every few days to give them a break. But in addition to the chard, carrot greens, and broccoli she eats from the veggie garden, she also enjoys mustard greens, collards, basil, mint, cilantro, and some variety of lettuce.

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Oh, and out of the 20 or so flats of peppers I tried to start, here are the two that germinated. I guess next year I’ll be investing in new pepper seed. And this year, I’ll be buying plants from the nursery.

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Onto the ornamental areas. Below is my newest flower bed in the backyard that I started last year and have continued to work on this spring. I’ve added more soil, moved the plants around, scattered flower seeds (many of which have already germinated!), and have added some compost. In the foreground of the below photo shows a pile of compost that I dumped right on the lawn. Our city has a great new compost program where it collects unlimited compostable materials from residents, and then we get to pick up a few yards of compost for ‘free.’ Because it’s a city program and there’s no way to regulate what people put into their compost bins, I’m only putting this compost on the ornamental areas. Just in spreading around this batch of compost, I’ve discovered a decent amount of trash (mostly remnants from plastic bags). So that reinforces that I don’t want to put this on anything that I’m going to eat.

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Here’s my other main flower bed in the back. Nothing new to report here, just that the existing plants are coming up nicely. In the background, the lilac still hasn’t blossomed. And you can see my sad excuse for a forsythia which I think has actually gotten smaller since I got it about 5 years ago. It was actually just about this size when I first planted it. Each year, it has grown a bit during the warm months and died back a bit over the winter. Forsythia’s are ubiquitous here and I assumed that one couldn’t go wrong with them. Kind of like with Black Eyed Susans. But maybe I got a lemon.

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And here is my main ornamental area in the backyard. I’ve been working to pull the neverending weeds, freshen mulch, and clean up the rock scapes. I procured a new trellis because I wanted to transplant the clematis that’s in the front yard to this space (because I think it would do better back here) but I wasn’t able to make that happen soon enough while it was still dormant.

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Front yard. I love our walkway that Josh installed last month (lower right). And all of the plants that I planted last year are doing well. I’ve placed rocks around some small and tender ones that I want to discourage Milo from crushing with his bulldozer. He really is an amiable kid with such a positive and funny personality, and I’m so happy that he loves playing outside in the dirt. But when it comes to dissuading him from doing something, it’s much better to modify the environment to create physical barriers and inconveniences rather than asking him not to do something. So, rocks around plants I don’t want him to crush.

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And here’s just the other side of the front yard. This past weekend, Milo helped me spread our compost on the ornamental areas and he did a great job. He helped me shovel the compost into the wheel barrow and then helped scatter compost. It was so cute because he kept saying things like, “This is hard work!” “There’s so much work to do!” and “I’m working hard!”

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I’ll leave you with a photo of the two of us at the local ‘March for our Lives’ last month.

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Garden – March 2018 Update

Overall, we’ve had a nice winter this year. It’s been warmer than usual and relatively dry, both of which have been conducive to spending a good amount of time working in the yard and garden. We have had different batches of snow come through as well as cold snaps, but in general Milo and I have been able to spend many many more weekends than normal puttering outside.

So, Milo is at the most fun age right now. The past couple of years, he hasn’t been old enough to really play in the garden or help me with the work, so my gardening efforts were limited and fairly unsuccessful. Now, he loves being in the garden with me, whether he is playing in the dirt doing his own thing or actually helping me.

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Arguably, Milo truly has been helpful in the garden. Yes, as evidenced above and below, he does enjoy playing in the dirt in which I am growing plants, but he has been mindful about not destroying my plants. But even more than that, he is a good helper.

Several weeks ago, he helped me dig up the potatoes that I didn’t have time to dig last fall. And that was the perfect example to contrast last year’s lack of success in the garden with this year’s productivity. He honestly was very helpful in digging up the potatoes and we were able to get the project completely done. He has also been helping me to clean up the debris on all of my garden beds.

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Above, here is Milo playing with his construction vehicles in my asparagus bed. Probably not the best idea to let him do this, but I would prefer to encourage a love of digging in the dirt over retaining an intact asparagus bed. I’m sure many gardeners would be shocked at this perspective, but asparagus I can replant. Right now, fostering a love of gardening in my son I feel is so much more worthwhile.

Other gardening tasks I have accomplished include:

  • Direct sowing to beds of sugar snap peas
  • Cleaning up the overwintered beets and chard – – I’ve even been harvesting some chard the last several months
  • Caught up on so much garden clean up – trimmed back perennials, raked leaves, etc.

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Above, this is a random silly picture – – Milo thought he’d be able to crawl through my tomato cages.

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I do have a good start on my seed starting. Milo has been helping me with these as well. Initially, he helped me to fill the different containers with dirt and gently add seeds and then water. Then we’ve been watching the seedlings grow and he’s been helping to water them. It’s a cool science project to share with him.

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We’ve also been working on a lot of landscaping and ornamental gardening projects. Above, this is our dirt mound in the front yard that Milo loves rolling his trucks on. I managed to bring out a haul of landscaping rocks that we found buried in our back yard several years ago. I’m still trying to figure out where to place them.

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Another project that Josh has been working on has been installing a walkway next to our driveway. It’s about 90% complete.

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In the backyard, I’ve continued to work on this flower bed that I started last year. I also laid several layers of cardboard on an area that I want to get rid of grass.

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Front yard again, our lovely neighbor across the street gave me a ton of ornamental plants that I’ve added to the front yard. For example, that bit of ornamental grass in the foreground of the above picture (obviously, is dormant for the winter). I’ve bought oodles and oodles of flower seeds that I’m going to scatter over all of our dirt areas in the front yard and I’m so excited for this to become a colorful wonderland.

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The weather is predicted to be in the mid 50’s this weekend and I’m looking forward to spending many many hours working in the dirt.

Belated Update

I am astonished at how long it’s been since last I posted. Things have been great, overall. My newish job is going well, but is so very busy that I don’t tend to feel inclined to spend time at the computer when not at work. Hence, the months of silence.

What follows will be an inadequate update, but it is more adequate than no update.

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Milo is doing awesome. His language skills continue to EXPLODE. He speaks in full sentences, using pronouns occasionally and conjugating verbs appropriately. At day care for several weeks, they’ve had a learning theme around opposites and each week they focus on a different set of opposites. This week is hard and soft – – he knows that his teeth are hard and his skin is soft. Last week was clean and dirty, before that was inside and outside, etc. It’s been fun talking about opposites with him at home. During bath time, we talked about empty and full, while filling up cups with bath water and then dumping the water out.

He has also learned that Josh and I have actual names, rather than just mommy and daddy and, on occasion, he calls us by our names. When he does, he says “Gosh” for Josh and “Genfer” for Jennifer. It’s pretty cute.

We’ve been working more on potty training. It had been going great – – Milo had actually gotten to the point where he would ask to sit on the potty before going a few times – – but then he got sick and he hasn’t sat on the potty hardly at all for about a week. He’s also used the potty several times at day care.

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We got him a balance bike for his birthday (way back in August) and he’s gotten really good at it.

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He’s gone ‘mountain biking’ quite a number of times and is pretty good at it. Josh and I will run along after him on the trails

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Obviously we take him on very easy trails, but they do have a slight grade and he can get going decently fast (for a toddler) on the downhill. He’s had a couple of crashes but nothing that phased him at all, he would just get back on his bike and keep riding. But he’s also really good at keeping his speed under control.

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In a few months, I expect to be able to have him ride his bike while I run and for it to actually be a great workout for me. Pretty excited about that.

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We had a lot of fun this past summer. There were so many great activities around town and we even got out of town a fair amount.

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In October, we went to a corn maze at a ranch and Milo got to ride a pony.

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I took him to a pumpkin patch at a local fire station and he got to explore a fire truck.

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He also had a bit of a meltdown because I wouldn’t let him climb to the very very top of the hay bale structure by himself.

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He LOVED playing in the leaves after I raked them into a pile.

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Halloween was fun. I made him a rainbow turkey (???) costume and we trick or treated along the very busy Harrison Blvd. It’s so busy that they have police stationed at all of the intersections.

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We went to an air show at the local airforce base.

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We went to the Idaho Botanical Gardens for their annual Winter Garden Aglow and it was lovely.

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Okay, well that’s a super quick update of a few things happening.

~ Milo 2 Years! ~

Today my lovable guy is TWO years old.

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We’ve had a great month. I am constantly in awe of how smart and fun he is.

COUNTING!

Get this… my little genius can COUNT! Last night in the bath, I asked him how many toes he has, and he correctly counted all the way up to SEVEN! He’s been reliably counting to 2 for a few weeks (and has been very excited to identify when there are TWO of something) but last night I was absolutely blown away when he kept counting all the way to seven.

Of course, I tried to take a video of him counting and he wouldn’t count in front of the camera. But he did count to seven for Josh, who was equally amazed as I was.

BIRTHDAY NON-PARTY

This weekend, we had a casual gathering to celebrate Milo’s birthday. Josh recently finished installing a dishwasher in our house and the process of installing a dishwasher in a 70 year old home that previously did not have a dishwasher wreaked havoc on our already chaotic lives, so we had no mental or physical energy to organize an actual party. Instead, I sent out a last minute facebook invitation to a few friends to hang out at a local brewery, one that has a nice outdoor space.  As of two years ago, minors can accompany their parents to breweries in Idaho, and we have so many breweries that are lovely places for families to hang out.

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Anyway, a small but wonderful group of friends joined us and it was a very nice time.  Elizabeth made DELICIOUS chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

ADVENTURES & FUN

This has been a fun month. There is always so much going on during the summer in Boise, particularly family friendly activities.

This past Saturday, for example, we went to Bug Day at the Idaho Botanical Gardens, which is a great space that is within walking distance of our house. The Gardens have so many fun events that are great for kids and it’s also just a great place to go.

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Anyway, Bug Day was awesome! There were so many different hands-on learning booths, that were fascinating for both Milo and myself.

They also had several model trains setup that were decorated with bugs. This was different than the other exhibits, but Milo LOVES model trains and we watched them for almost half an hour.

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We also wandered around the Gardens. Below is looking down on the koi pond.

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Later that day, he and I went on a bike ride to Veteran’s park and we spent a long time just running around on the grass. Milo has developed a great affinity for running down hills.

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We’ve also gone to the zoo several times. His day care actually did a Saturday field trip a few weeks ago, that was fun.

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Last week, we went to the old train station in Nampa, where they have multiple model train exhibits. A train came into the station while we were there and we got to learn all about it.

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Milo has a book about construction and there is a picture of a worker holding his hand out like this, to signal STOP. Milo loves making the STOP sign with his hand.

Here is a photo from a mama day a few weeks ago, when Milo and I went thrift store shopping together (and found that awesome Tonka truck on the table).

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Also during our thrift store shopping spree, we found this scooter that Milo has mastered.

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TURTLES

This week at day care, Milo is transitioning from the Chipmunk classroom to the Turtles. He’s moving along with his best friend, Lilah, who both turned 2 this month.

Joining the Turtles should be a fairly non-issue because he already knows the kids and teachers, as they socialize Chipmunks and Turtles regularly. Also, the current Turtles are all former Chipmunks that Milo has been in class with previously.

POTTY TRAINING

As I mentioned in my last post, Turtles are big kids and start working on big kid things like potty training.  At home, we’ve been having Milo sit on his potty in the morning after he has his breakfast. So far, he hasn’t gone in his potty, but we’re not really potty training yet, just trying to get him used to sitting on it.

I do think he’s showing more and more readiness. Yesterday after his bath, I was putting lotion on his skin and he asked me to put his diaper on. I was surprised because he usually loves his post-bath run around without a diaper for five minutes. So I got up to put the lotion away. When I returned, I found him on his changing table (he can climb up by himself, which used to freak me out), lying down, with a diaper, and trying to put the diaper on himself. It was hilarious! Right after I put the diaper on, he had a big pee (the line on the diaper turned blue really fast) and I suspect he was holding his urine until he had a diaper on.

Likely this is obvious, but I am excited for potty training, if only because I feel so bad about how ‘wasteful’ diapers are. If we ever have a second kiddo (which I’m sure we won’t), I will definitely try harder to make cloth diapers happen. After I had given up on cloth diapers for Milo, I learned that we have cloth diaper consultants in town as well as washing services.

Anyway, yesterday when I picked Milo up from daycare, I chatted with a Turtle mama who said that her daughter Dara (who is just a few months older than Milo) is 75% potty trained. I know that girls are supposed to be faster to potty train than boys and that it’s also very important to wait until the child is ready, but it’s nice to feel optimistic that one day we might be done with diapers.

OTHER STUFF?

As usual, I wasn’t organized with what I wanted to update this month’s post about, but I feel super awesome about being able to post an update on the actual day of the 22nd rather than six weeks late, despite the insanity of life. So, go me.

Oh, Milo got horribly sick two weeks ago and I had to stay home from work for three days. He was running a fever of 103 for four days, would hardly eat or drink, and was cranky as all get out. Apparently several kiddos from his day care were out with similar symptoms. But I also think that perhaps he was teething in addition to whatever he brought home from daycare, as he was drooling everywhere and his mouth was in a lot of pain. He won’t let me look in his mouth anymore, but I caught a glimpse of some white farther back in his mouth when he yawned the other day. So maybe molars…

This sickness reminded me of life with a colicky baby, as I found myself desperately driving him around town with the fans blaring with white noise, just to try and get him to calm down and sleep. He also had the meltdown of the century one night while I was trying to put him down for bed. He was SCREAMING, “No mama!”, kicking and hitting me with all of his might (which is actually a significant amount of might), and violently crying and crying, until finally, at a complete loss for what to do and feeling like I was going to lose my mind, took him on a walk around the neighborhood in the stroller. Of course, he fell asleep 30 seconds into our walk but I continued walking him around for quite some time because the peace and quiet was a godsend. For the next three days, the only way I could get him to relax enough to fall asleep was by walking him in the stroller.

Then, as suddenly as it began, Milo’s behavior returned to his normal, happy self.

In other news, not Milo related, but yesterday was the eclipse and I got to see 99.5% totality at the patio of my workplace. (All of my eclipse photos are terrible, but I did take this one of me and the uneclipsed sun behind me). Josh was actually able to head up to Pearl, Idaho to see full totality, which I hear is something worth looking at. I feel pretty meh about my partial eclipse experience, but everyone I know who saw totality are just going on and on about how it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

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But I digress.