March 1st marks the day where it stops being encouraging to hear birds chirping before you get out of bed in the morning and starts being annoying. Actually, on second thought it might be a function of the day of the week instead.
Hey, at least it wasn't the neighbors taking trees down with a chain saw like yesterday morning. Yes, before 8:00 am on a Saturday.
Last year I planted some carrots in, oh, July or something, just to see what would happen. How excited I was when the first little sprouts came up! I sat and watched them for hours. Then, sadly, the lack of nutrients in the soil and the aberrant weather (was it too wet or not wet enough? I can't remember) stopped any further growth, and the carrots and I both gave up. Well, imagine my surprise when, after the snow finally melted, I saw them poking up from the frozen ground, forced out by the frost heaves or what have you. How pretty they looked! Two to three inches of stunted carrot perfection each. Their taste, sadly, was not perfect. It turns out that carrots don't take kindly to freezing, or to being left in the ground for months and months, or for a combination of the two: all the carrot taste was subsumed into a vague sweetness, and the ice-damaged cell structure was rather lacking in the crispness you like to have in a carrot. Still, it was pretty cool to find them, and we can't complain: they exceeded any expectations I had for them by their very existence!
A snowy nor'easter is just the thing to bring in March in the proper style. Sure, we were enjoying seeing the grass for the first time in months the last couple days, but you can't expect too much of that when it's still properly winter. School was also called off today, and I have to say that this time I entirely agreed with the powers-that-be that the cancellation was necessary (and not only because I hadn't done any lesson planning!).
Now bring on the lambs!
I'm not so sure about birthdays. Mine is coming up, and while I won't say no to a cake and a present or two, I'm a little uncomfortable with folks outside of my immediate family making a big deal out of it. So I survived another year; that's no great accomplishment in this age of modern medicine! Though I suppose I have to appreciate the sentiments. And really, I can't fault the first-graders for being interested: birthdays are bigger deals to them, because they've had so few. What, three or four that they can remember? For me, though, number thirty-two is old hat.
Watch out for those brillo pad thingies, even if they are occasionally necessary for particularly tough pots and pans: not only can they give you a nasty metal splinter, but on doing so they also automatically inject poisonous soap into the wound! Very painful.
I take back what I said about not wanting anything special on my birthday! What a day of working I had, leavened hardly at all by 200 people wishing me many happy returns of the day. To show you the gravity of the situation, I am still awake now—after 10:00—when I could happily have gone to bed at, oh, 8:30 or so.
In happier birthday news, Leah gave me the cutest little sheep stuffed animal ever, that she made from scratch. It is incredibly awesome. I would post a picture if I had a camera. Also I won two dollars from a one-dollar scratch ticket they gave me at work. Yeah! Way to stick it to the government! That takes a little bit of sting out of the tax bill that we owe this year.
A new lamb and a new camera.
Give me back my hour of sleep! I really need it this year! I'm also not looking forward to getting up when it's still dark again; the current not-dark situation is enjoyable, and something which I could and have gotten used to. Sure, the later sunset is nice, but we're barely using those hours anyways (the last two evenings excepted).
Really warm today: much of the snow in the yard melted. It was really pretty astounding, as we had probably six inches yesterday evening. I guess that's what 50° temperatures will do.
Tonight we completed our first midwife appointment in over a month, and it would be an understatement to say that I had been completely panicked in anticipation. Mostly I was afraid that my pace of weight gain would get me in trouble with Rebecca, a very even-tempered woman who has never gotten anyone "in trouble" in her life, but who is nevertheless my judge and jury in the realm of parental fitness. At the beginning of the pregnancy, she told me to expect to gain between 30 and 35 lbs total. Of course I balked, thinking how athletic and conscientious I am. Yeah right, I said, Im going to skate by with only 28lbs, you just watch!
That was 6 months ago. Currently, with about three months and one week to go I have already gained 32 pounds. And its not like you gain enough weight and ding it stops! Most likely Ill rack up 40-45 pound by the end of this thing, and really no one will be surprised if its 50. Yes, as I have sunk to the depths of pregnancy I swear that I will never judge a fat person again. I know what it takes to gain 50 pounds in ten months. All it takes is working ten feet from a fridge.
On the flip side, I have had many friends and casual onlookers comment that I dont look so fat because "Its all baby!" True, my body does have the appearance of a normal human with an inflated belly, making it look like Im a contestant in some extreme pregnancy competition. "Are you sure theres only one baby in there?" some actual Christians have asked me. This had the dual effect of making me feel better about my weight gain and making me petrified that we are delivering the incredible hulk.
But good news! Tonight we learned that the baby isnt fat; I am! The baby is a very normal two pounds, and all the extra padding you see up front is just demonstrative of the fact that I store any extra weight in my belly, instead of for example in a sexy pair of lady lumps. The baby has very wisely taken the food it needed and declined the rest. See, its already smarter then me. Thats evolutionary progress.
Also, all my vitals are normal, the baby has a strong heart beat, and I learned that at this point in the pregnancy its okay for me to have one alcoholic drink a week. So yeah, its been a good day.
Last night at our appointment, Rebecca told me the baby had hiccups while she was listening to the heartbeat, which is a good sign because it means the brain is working. A brain-dead baby cant hiccup you see.
Okay, so good. One less thing to worry about.
Then today while working, my belly starts bouncing up and down with little baby hiccups.
"What a little smarty pants you are!" I start cooing.
My hiccuping baby is the smartest. Yeah, I guess I'm a mom.
Well, I guess it's not gold any more... resin or something. Whatever it is, they use UV light that comes out of a little gun to make it dry, which necessitates the patient's wearing a set of orange-tinted rock-star shades not unlike the pair Bono one affected. Perhaps he still does, I don't know. He was in Somerville yesterday, we hear, but I didn't have time to stop by and see him. In any case, what I mean is that I got some fillings this afternoon, fillings for cavities that have been developing for at least three years since they were first discovered way back when I worked in Newton (the last time I had dental insurance)—if not longer, of course!
It was all very impressive and even fascinating—the part that didn't hurt, that is, and even that was pretty cool. (The pain didn't last long and they were suitably apologetic). I don't mind dentists at all, as long as they're doing stuff to my mouth and not preaching about dental hygiene and whatever. Two cleanings a year?! You know that's just to give them a reliable income stream, right? And I wouldn't even complain about that if it weren't for the off-putting quackery that attends some of their other advertised services, such as orthodontia and teeth-whitening. That's where the money is, and when socialized medicine comes in both those useless, built-on-artificially-induced-social-phobias procedures will not be picked up by the government tab. And good riddance! It'll be just like England, and we'll all have good English teeth.
I came home from work yesterday feeling very poorly: a full week of teaching and getting coughed on tired me out, I suppose, and left me with a fevery headachey icky flu. Luckily Leah was there to take care of me, which she did wonderfully, so today I felt healthy enough to go exploring with the puppy in search of some good pictures of water. Not much luck in that regard, but it was still a joy to be out in the sun; at least, that is, until I mistook my footing and plunged well-past ankle-deep in icy water. The hiking boots did noble duty in keeping the entirety of the lake from soaking into my sock, but I still thought it would be the better part of valor to head home quick after that.
I also got myself pretty much soaking wet doing the dishes this evening, but that isn't quite as interesting.
Not tremendously significant on the global scale, perhaps, but what is a blog for but to record minor personal milestones or significant events? We formally opened the garden season today by doing some tidying and pruning, and we also opened the ice-cream season by walking to Bedford Farms for cones after lunch. I am now beginning to recover. I also (nearly!) finished my first-ever batch of report cards, which is perhaps a major personal milestone in the career of a teacher. In this case the real teacher will be back soon and I will be relieved of this terrible responsibility. I like gardening and ice cream better than assessing and ranking!
Yesterday on my way to work I was stopped by a cop for totally not even pausing at the stop sign at the end of the street by our house. It was totally deserved, so I was glad to hear that living around the corner meant I got a warning rather than a ticket. It made me think, though, about the logic of stop signs and the enforcement thereof. After all, the intersection in question has great visibility for folks turning right, as I was. There was no danger, then, from my not stopping; unlike the situation today, when I did stop (of course!) and then decided I could make it out before the oncoming car got there. Which I did with no problem, but still: unless you get in a wreck, there's no penalty for poor judgment in pulling out, as long as you stop first. What does this mean for America? I don't know. But it really makes you think.
One of the many ways that pregnancy reveals itself to be the curse of Eve is that you can't take any drugs while you're pregnant, even garden variety over the counter ones that help you sleep. Which is frustrating because more than a big margarita right now, I would really like to inhale a case of Niquil. I've got some sort of sinus cold from hell (arent they all?) and the doctor-ordered course of treatment is to stick my head over a bowl of steam three times a day. But I can't even make it down the stairs to boil the water. And if I could, I would need to fight off the mice that have taken over our kitchen. How can I bring a child into this mess?
Which brings me to the other overwhelming issue confronting us right now; mice infestation. Once you get a family of mice in your house, do you know how quickly they reproduce? We do! Just fast enough to fill your silverware drawer with poop every day. Yes, it's very unsanitary. For about a month we have been looking the other way and putting off the extermination decision, because I have met several of the mice personally when they get stuck in the recycling drawer and they are darn cute. Like, mind-bogglingly cute. So cute that their dead little souls will invade my dreams if I go about setting traps. But the humane solution is to trap them one at a time in a cage, and then let them go in the woods about a 10-minute walk from our house. Which is not very feasible times 25 mice if I can't even walk down the stairs.
I've been thinking about buying a pet store cage, trapping the mice one by one, caring for them in the cage until we think we've caught the whole nest, and then freeing them all together somewhere far from our house. Do you think wild mice are more feral than pet store mice and will go about tearing each other to bits in their newfound captivity? Because that might be harder to take than the dead ones in the traps.
It is spring today, and we celebrated it in style in my classroom. I had the childrens come up with a million different ways to finish a sentence that begins "Spring is...", mostly because I wasn't satisfied when they said "fun" the first seven times; some more explicit instruction was required to pull out the kind of answers I really wanted, like "Spring is beautiful trees and bugs" and "Spring is riding bikes". Then we made posters. Spring is tissue-paper collages, and the watered down glue that holds such collages together is not as difficult to clean up when it spills all over the table (twice! no, three times!) than you might imaging. I did put it in very small cups for a reason.
One problem with the arrival of spring is that I still haven't gotten my seeds in the mail. Everything stands ready for them; well, almost ready. I can't bring myself to finish their enclosure until they're actually in my hot little hands, but it won't take long now! I've even learned something about florescent lights, though perhaps still not enough. But if they don't come soon, there's no chance they'll be ready in time for prime gardening season, and I'll have to end up buying plants again. Like every other year. Boo. Oh well, at least the seed-starting will be good practice, and maybe with careful storage I can try and keep some of the extra seeds until next year.
Everything else seems to be going apace in the garden, without much intervention from us. Crocuses blooming (very small this year, but present), daffodils sprouting very nicely (and nicely increased in number, it looks like!), lilies and irises starting to emerge. It's enough to make you want to keep on living!
Yesterday we solemnly resolved to do something about the mouse problem. Well, dan's mom Judy did, at least. She phoned us first thing in the morning to let us know that she would be over presently with traps, and by no means should a pregnant lady be cleaning up mouse poop, what is this the dark ages of infectious disease prevention?
So Judy came over Saturday morning and 100% sanitized our kitchen of mouse droppings. I tried to convey that it was overkill to wash everything in the utensil drawer, seeing as the mice would just poop in it again the following evening, but Judy was more filled with hope than I. "This will be a new beginning for you. Youll set traps tonight. Only if you start out with a clean kitchen will you know if youre winning the war!"
It is with great shame therefore that I report that, as of night number 1, we are NOT winning the war. The mice have taken the first battle.
We set our 1 havahart trap yesterday afternoon (2 more coming via mail on Wednesday) and proceeded to check the trap excitedly every 30 minutes from then on. Were so pleased with our little plan, you see: On the kitchen buffet we have a nice little mouse hotel set up in the Archibalds former ferret cage. Mommy lovingly ripped up newspaper, spread birdsead, filled a peanutbutter lid with water, and even included two toilet paper rolls for fun and excitement. This should be a suitable home for the cute little critters for the few days until we can release them into the wild someplace far from our field stones. Yes indeed, were ready for our new mousey pets. They have but to take the humanely set bait...
We werent too upset with the ineffectiveness of our afternoon trapping. After all, mice come out at night, and we would certainly wake up to a little critter in the trap. So when I stumbled downstairs for my 3am snack (yes, now that Im pregnant I eat at 3am; dont judge me) I readied myself for a mouse encounter. I opened the trash drawer where we had set the trap, and BAM.... no mouse. Indeed, the trap doors still sat up in the up position, waiting at attention. We have not quivered all night, they said to me. No mouse has disturbed our tranquility.
Meanwhile, the silverware drawer, and utensil drawer are again filled with poop. Even the smell of clorox did not deter.
I know it makes grocery store checkout a little more convenient, but I wish that industrial fruit producers would refrain from putting those stupid stickers on every single piece of fruit they ship. Who could ever be expected to take them off lemon rinds or banana peels, or any of the other excess bits of fruit that get tossed into the compost? Not us, which means that our compost is sprinkled liberally with the little things, which have made it through the winter and the total decomposition of their parent fruits without the slightest change to their own appearance. It makes me wonder, how we cheerfully make and use "disposable" things that'll outlast us by years or centuries!
Since the mice didnt take the birdseed bait on saturday, I sweetened the deal last night with a big hunk of cheese in the middle of the havahart trap. This morning the cheese is gone, but that trap has yet to deploy. What are you like on a frickin time delay? Youre a mouse trap for God's sake... I assumed some design testing went into the process! I am left speachless. Actually, Im cashless, since this humane trap cost Judy 20 bucks and we have two more worth $16 a piece on the way. Perhaps the trap is humane because of its unique feature of NOT DOING ANYTHING AT ALL!!!
"Looks like youre ballooning out nicely."
Im starting to think that normal people just arent used to seeing third trimester pregnant women. And thats because these women dont go out in public. And thats because the public is full of bitches.
It turns out that the act of licking peanut butter is no more effective than that of stealing cheese to get our MOUSE DESIGNED havahart trap to spring closed. Not only did a mouse sit on the food dish long enough to eat about a teaspoon of peanut butter, but HE POOPED ON IT. Pooped right in the food dish, in the so-called bait area of the so-called trap. Ideas?
We went out dancing this evening, because we try and get out and experience some night life once a year, whether we need it or not. Night life is relative, of course, because this particular outing was to a contra dance at my school, and it ran from 6:00 to 8:00—right up our alley, time-wise! Promoters everywhere, that's how you get the Archibalds out to your shows: make sure they're over before our 9:00 bedtime. Yes, on weekends too. We did think about going out for ice cream afterwards, but we didn't feel we could handle it.
Today from 8:30 to 9:30 was meant to be "Earth Hour", when we all turned out the lights to save a certain amount of energy or something. We didn't participate, even though I cared enough to put in on my calendar when Sierra Club emailed me about it. I figure we save enough electricity the rest of the time, what with the no air-conditioning and things, that we can be grudged a little bit of light in the darkness to help us knit and write web pages.
Which reminds me, there are some things I wonder about Earth Hour. Like, does it only include lights or is all electricity out? Also, what about timezones? Is Earth Hour a rolling thing, or is it supposed to happen at the same time all over the globe? If the latter, the folks who get it at 2:30am or whatever have it pretty easy! Finally, what's the point of the whole thing: to raise awareness, or to really save energy? I hope it's the former, because I didn't notice any participation around the neighborhood (and I'd feel bad too, if I thought I was contributing to the coming energy crisis or climate catastrophe that we're hoping to avoid). And since my awareness is already at about peak level for this particular issue, I won't feel bad for not getting on the bandwagon. Not too bad, anyways...
Leah and I don't always get a chance to relax together in the evenings, both of us having jobs that often require some after-hours work. When we do, though, it's board games if we're feeling adventurous; if not I read to Leah while she knits or embroiders. Or winds yarn, which is what she did this evening. Our literary selection was By hook or by crook, David Crystal's book about whatever random facts about English and England he can come up with, mixed with some Old English poetry. Yes, we're that cool.
When people warn us ominously that having a baby will keep us from doing all the exciting activities that they imagine young couples enjoy, we laugh.
My friends, we have turned the corner in the mousey war.
On Friday afternoon we received 3 additional havahart traps from Amazon.com. Unlike the one from the hardware store, these new traps actually spring shut with provocation. Blame manufacture error for the first trap, or the fact that it was sitting on the shelf too long. Anyway, we set the new traps on Friday night, and by Saturday morning we had two round little mice in our clutches! And a lot less poop in our drawers!
We transfered the mice to our big ferret cage, a challenging task considering how fast these little suckers are. Seriously, they can run faster than you can see them run. But we got them into the cage all right where they stayed for the next two days to wait out the thunderstorms outside. The smaller mouse spent the entire two days hanging upside down from the roof of the cage, while the bigger one hung out in a toilet paper tube for the duration.
On Monday morning I took the mice to our local farm (2.5 miles away) to release them into the woods. I had mixed emotions about letting them go. They're so gosh darn cute, and their safety is not very well ensured in the wild. They are wild animals however, and when I saw them scamper out of the cage and into the woods I felt the greatest sense of joy at their newfound freedom. Then driving away in the car I felt so much relief that the little critters were back in God's hands and out of mine. As much as I love watching the little creatures dash around their cage, I'm feeling a bit burned out with trying to mother the whole world.
Last night Dan caught two more mice, and they are (unfortunately) even cuter than the previous pair. These ones are more friendly than the previous duo, and from where I sit I can see them leaning against each other in the cage. (In desperate fear?) Yes, these mice are perhaps the cutest little brown spotted rodents I have ever seen. But I'm afraid that we can't get any more than two in the big cage without having the others escape, and that limits our ability to both keep pets and clear our kitchen of feces. So sadly, these too will soon need to go to the big farm in Carlisle.