Beta just turned three. She spent her birthday demanding we sing “Happy birthday to me” again. Every time she would sing along and Alpha tried to explain to her that she’s not supposed to sing along when we sing happy birthday, we’re just supposed to sing to her and she is supposed to listen. She didn’t care. Alpha clearly has a better grasp on social rituals than she does at her age.

It amazed me how big the differences between the two of them are, even when I try to compare Beta to Alpha when he was her age. She is definitely more girly. Every morning we have a discussion over what she is going to put on and I have to veto many of her choices (clashing patterns, wearing entirely purple, that sort of thing). I’ve realized the most effective way to get her to go along with my objections is to give her a reason she can’t argue on. She tried putting on neon pink capri leggings with a top that clashed. I told her she couldn’t wear the pants–they were way to short and for today’s cold weather, she needed long pants. She looked at her pants and realized I was right–they were too short. She picked out a grey long pair and we were done.
But other days we can’t agree and it just ends up in tears if her favorite outfit (a purple velvet dress) is dirty.
The only times I fought with Alpha about clothes was when we were in a transition season–he used to have a lot of trouble moving between short sleeves, long sleeves and so on.
She’s also picked up on the fact that women carry purses. She knows I do and imitates this. Whereas Alpha at her age was limited only what he could carry when it came to taking things out of the house, Beta is limited by what she can fit in her bag, which is significantly more. And she has to load it up before we can leave. Stuffed dog. Wooden cake. Stuffed pigs. Spoons. And so on.

She is very quick to come and comfort someone if they hurt themselves. If I bump my leg against furniture, she rushes over and kisses it and asks, “You okay, mommy?”

She likes to go to the bathroom with me. If I’m going to the bathroom, she’ll rush to come with me, pull down her pants and sit on her potty, chatting all the while. Some times she doesn’t even have to pee, but there she is anyway. She’ll talk to me about how my experience is going and hand me toilet paper as needed and help me flush the toilet. At some point in the future, she’s going to be doing this with her friends. Hopefully in different stalls.

Both Beta and Alpha play with cars. But they play with them differently. Alpha would build caravans or stack the cars on top of each other. He’d also have a lot of fast and large crashes to destroy the caravans and stacks. Car playing for Beta goes like this:

“Mommy, mommy, mommy!” Little McQueen car is driving around frantically. Fortunately, Bigger McQueen car is right around the corner! “Baby, baby! Did you hurt yourself? Awwww.” The cars cuddle.
She even does this with crayons, which I find highly amusing because I used to do the same thing when I was a kid. The small broken crayons were the babies and the tall unbroken crayons were the adults. The in-between sizes were children of other ages. She does the same, though I don’t think her games are as complicated as mine.
When Alpha and Beta play together, they usually end up playing some sort of family-oriented game where someone is the baby and someone is the mother. Some times, they play going to school–a game I’m pretty sure they picked up from my niece.

But as far as getting dirty is concerned, they are just the same. They love a big mess, though Beta gets a little more upset when her clothes get dirty. They both love danger. Beta recovers more quickly than Alpha when she falls and gets hurt–he’s always been more high strung in this manner.

Over all, she’s a happy 3 year old. She loves to play. Her gymnastics teacher told me she’s fearless because she tried to do a forward roll off the top of a high mat, when they were supposed to jump down and then do a forward roll. And she is definitely fearless.


Things We Need to Do in the Spring

I know, technically it’s already spring. But the snow suck to the ground outside says otherwise. It’s starting to melt, but slowly, reluctantly. We had enough snow out there to read above my knee without snowshoes. Our large 5 gallon chicken waterer was completely buried. The day its lid reappeared was special.

But now we have that spring paradox: tons of things we need to do before spring actually hits full on, but can’t do until the snow has melted and the ground has thawed.

1) Fence in the chickens. The deep bedding in our coop has covered their little back door entirely, so we’ve been letting them free range around everywhere. However, it’s getting warmer and the foxes should be coming by to dine any day now. While we have rifles and are prepared to shoot them, we’d rather not lose any chickens first. So we need to get them fenced in. But first we have to….

  • Build a compost bin. But the snow needs to melt first
  • remove most, if not all, of the bedding from the coop
  • Fix the electric fence because it has fallen over in places
  • Run an extension cord to turn it on to keep the chickens and the foxes out

It’s never as easy as just opening the chicken door.

2) Build separate brooding areas for the ducklings and chickens we’re getting. You cannot brood chickens and ducks together because ducks are fiends for water and scare the living crap out of the chickens with their outlandish behavior of trying to swim in the waterer. They also get the chicks wet, which the chicks really hate.
We can however, put the goslings with the ducks should they arrive at the same time.

3) Fence off the shed so the chickens stop laying underneath it. My husband hopes to do this today. About 10 of our chickens have decided they’re too good for their nesting boxes and lay underneath our woodshed. We cut holes in the floor so we could access the area underneath and pull out eggs, but the fact we have to is annoying.

4) Fence off the garden. Right now my mobile manure spreaders can go in there and hang out, that’s fine. But I’m bound and determined to get my spinach and peas in early this year (as soon as the ground is workable!) and I’ll be damned if they’re going to be the ones to enjoy them. I made a makeshift fence last year to keep the geese out, but the few chickens who managed to escape their fenced off area still managed to get in. This year we will build a proper-er fence, a few feet away from the outer most raised beds so no one can use those as leverage to propel themselves over the fence. I’m not joking. Chickens can be annoyingly clever when it comes to getting greens.

5) Clean up the basement. Ugh. Going down there makes me want to throttle myself. We managed to free the last logs from their trap of frozen mud and are burning those and hauled in some branches to saw off so we can rely less on the propane, but now the basement floor is covered in bark, wood shavings, and water. The water is actually from the washing machine because the outflow pipe came off the other outflow pipe and we failed to notice, attributing it to the heavy rain and snow melt. We were under a flood watch! Now I still have water to get off the concrete floor.

6) Start the rest of the seedlings! I enjoy this. I’m going to buy a heat pad today and see if any of my friends have extra eggplant because I forgot to order that…again. I’m going to have an awesome garden this year! I say that every year, but last year was disappointing. No one got tomatoes before August, which is quite late. I’m going to concentrate on melons and hope to get a lot. Being as far north as we are, we grow the small “personal sized” melons,  but they’re still deliciously awesome.

I think that’s it. I didn’t include the regular every day stuff. All this is on top of that. Sometimes I feel I don’t appreciate the winter enough.



I’m getting dumber

It’s time to face facts: I’m getting stupider.

When I was in college, I would read a lot of blogs on economics because I was an economics major. A lot of the posts discussed things I was learning in class and tied them to current events or current debate, which made them interesting. Then there were the posts that just discussed markets in everything or different cities, which are always interesting. I still read these blogs, but more and more I find myself skipping posts discussing actual economics in exchange for the ones about other topics–parenting, food in Singapore, books, whatever. You know: the ones that are always interesting if you’re not interested in economics.

It’s not that I don’t want to read the economics-heavy posts; it’s that I can’t concentrate on them. I try. But my mind wanders. I get up and do something else and when I come back, I just scroll past. My brain no longer has the time or energy to devote to topics that are now only marginal to my every day existence.

When Brian Caplan–hands down one of my favorite economists–wrote his book about parenting, I lapped it up. I even pre-ordered that book and it stands as my number 1 parenting book to this day. It’s the economics of parenting–but written in such a way that a sleep deprived new mom can still understand it. In other words, no math.

Maybe I’m just out of practice. It takes a lot of effort to concentrate on something boring. If you have to do it for a grade, that gives you motivation. But I have no external motivation to concentrate on blog posts that deal with the ‘difficult aspects’ of economics, even if it came to me fairly easily before. In my Money and Banking class, I was the only one who understood how the interest rate works to control money supply and I tried explaining it to my friend (a mom returning to college to get her degree). My teacher overheard and told me, “You’re good at school. You should do more of it.”

But I was sick of school. I’d been doing it since I was 4 years old. I wanted to get my degree, get out and do something else. I briefly considered getting a masters degree in economics, but the expense and econometrics (something I wasn’t sure I’d do well in) hung over me. Why take out tons of debt without any guarantee that I can pay off?

But all the same, I feel sad I’m getting stupider, that my brain no longer has the energy to read something more challenging than Jane Austen. I started reading the Gulag Archipelago, but stopped because Solzhenitsyn’s writing style bothered me. Too conversational in some ways. I figure if I’m ever stuck in an elevator for a long time, I’ll finish it then.