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Catching up on cute baby pictures, because that’s all we take around here these days.

I think this picture sort of sums up our lives. Surrounded by furry beasts and baby toys in our little living room. Delightful! I don’t know where Tesla was. Evidently missing the party.
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My first Mother’s day with an exterior baby.
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Good to the very last drop.
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This child has the longest eyelashes!
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She’s a deep thinker sometimes.
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Six month picture. I forgot to print out a sign. I and all my sisters, plus our good friend Zoae wore those pink pants. That makes Anna the 7th baby girl to wear them!
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Nothing is more delightful to this child than a petable animal.
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I tried my hand at taking 6 month pictures. I wore this dress in my 6 month pictures. This is the one that I printed out to hang on our wall.
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But this one is my favorite!
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Here’s me: Do we look alike? Thankfully, I don’t think she got my ears.
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Here’s her dad. He’s not wearing the same dress though. I think he has the funniest eyebrows I’ve ever seen on a baby. But this is coming from someone who evidently had no eyebrows as a baby and is even now somewhat lacking in the visible eyebrow department. Go ahead, scroll back up to the pictures of me as a baby and on Mother’s day. It’s true.
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We went canoeing. It was a little bit of a fiasco.

We took Anna canoeing sometime before she was 5 months old. Ken’s mom shuttled the car for us and it was a bit of a fiasco getting in because the river was higher than when I had done it before and the nice sloping river bank was under three feet of rushing water. There was a very nice fellow fishing who helped us get launched – he even laid in the mud to hang on to us while we loaded up. Thank you anonymous, kind fisher-gentleman!

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Anna did ok – she wasn’t super happy about the life jacket, which was sort of… large. I think she was pretty hot before the sun went away behind big, threatening clouds. She wouldn’t cry if I was talking to her, but I couldn’t do that and paddle, so Ken was stuck paddling most of the way, and an upriver wind came up near the end and was pushing us back upriver. Did I mention it looked like it was about to pour? Also, the Rio Grande is different than any of the rivers we’re used to paddling, it has a sand bottom and it’s really hard to tell where the main channel is and where it’s super shallow, so we ran aground a couple of times.
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We made it to the take-out uneventfully and it didn’t even rain on us. It was more of a character building experience than we wanted it to be, but we did see a beaver swimming, so that was very cool.

Daycare starts tomorrow

It has been so great having Anna’s grandmas around to take care of her for the past 2.5 months since I went back to work. Ken’s mom came and stayed for 2 months and was super helpful with Anna and above and beyond with the household chores. So big thanks to her and to Ken’s stepdad for enduring missing his wife for 2 months!

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My mom was here for about 2 weeks watching Anna and helping us with projects, so thanks to her and to Dad, who was at home working and trying to keep abreast of stupendously producing raspberries and kale without Mom’s help.

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One of the projects my chemist Mom helped with: testing 10 soil samples for us. Turns out we have alkaline soil (which we knew) and need phosphorus badly and nitrogen everywhere we haven’t been amending.
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I feel much better about Anna going to daycare now than I would have 2.5 months ago. She happily drinks for a bottle, doesn’t need quite as much sleep, and she LOVES people, so I think she’ll do great. Also, a week ago she sprouted a couple of razor sharp little teeth, and it somehow seems like it makes her more ready. She’s not my tiny, helpless baby any more. She can bite people now like a real person!

Anna, please don’t bite anyone at daycare.
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How to make a free dog bed

Step 1. Decide that your pillows are in terrible shape because you’ve had them since the beginning of time and use money you got from returning generous gifts to your darling child to buy new pillows. Bad parents. But Anna didn’t need anything, and we did. I’m sure we’ll buy her a thing or two in the future to make up for it…
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Step 2. Find the cheap flannel bottom sheet from Target that only lasted through 2.5 winters of use before developing holes and cut it to a reasonable size to encompass all pillows.
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Step 3. Fold right sides together and sew two sides to make a long bag.
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Step 4. Turn right side out, stuff a pillow in, and sew along the bottom.
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Step 5. Repeat with another pillow.
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Step 6. Find that even a partially finished dog bed looks napworthy when you’re a mom with a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night.
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Step 7. Stuff in last pillow and sew it without doing a finished seam because it’s for DOGS and they don’t care about unfinished seams. Feel embarrassed any way and tuck the several inches of unfinished seam under the pillow for the picture.
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Step 8. Enjoy the sight of both dogs together on the dog bed in the kennel, but never have a camera when they are there.
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Bees!

I have been enamored with the idea of keeping bees for ages. I don’t remember when it started – maybe when we studied bees as a unit study when I was a kid? Basically I just think bees are cool and that it would be fun to have some to watch.

In the definitely hippy leaning birth class we took, at the last class the fathers were encouraged to make something for the mother and give it to her in a “mother blessing” ceremony that included foot washing. Sorta weird, but the upshot of it was that Ken made me a beehive (totally showing up the other 6 or so fathers, by the way. Not that we’re comparing.) I was totally surprised!

It’s a top bar hive, which is a different setup than most commercial beekeepers use – the rectangular boxes (Langstroth hives). It’s basically easier to build, so cheaper to get into, but you don’t get honey as efficiently. If you’re doing it for fun like us you don’t need hundreds of pound of honey anyway. Some people like it because it’s a bit more “natural” and more mimics what bees do in nature. I like it because there’s an observation window (The blue painted area in the pictures below) and pulling out the bars to inspect the hive doesn’t disturb the bees as much.

The way it works is that the bees build comb hanging from the triangular bars that make up the top of the hive – you can see some installed and some laying on top at an angle. Yes, that’s baby. Don’t worry, the bees hadn’t yet taken up residence and she wasn’t yet rolling.
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Here’s a view down inside. You can see the entrance holes on the right. The board on the left is movable so you can add more bars as the hive grows.

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This shows how the roof is hinged and the hive is on a stand that will hopefully deter skunks and raccoons. I’m afraid if we have a bear wander through who wants it we’re just out of luck. Hopefully they stay up in the mountains.

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Here’s the bees as they arrived in their package. I say “they arrived” like they showed up by UPS or something, but no, a local guy drives all the way to California to pick up like 4000 of these packages and drives them all the way back for beekeepers in Arizona and New Mexico. We had to drive about 35 minutes to meet him to pick up our bees. (Not bad, from what I’ve seen on the internet – some people drive for like 6 hours to meet a bee package). It was a Friday morning, so “we” was me and Anna. It was a bit nerve wracking picking up and transporting 4 lbs of bees in the same car as a 5 month old, but there was a very nice lady at the pickup who volunteered to hold Anna while I actually got the package, and all the bees stayed back in the trunk happily on the drive home. Installing them was definitely interesting (when Anna finally decided to take a decent nap). I’ve seen it described as pouring a thick liquid like oil, and it’s just like that except that the bees are much less dense. They didn’t seem too perturbed by it, they were just happy that the queen was still there with them.

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The bees have been in-house for just over 2 weeks now, and you can actually see that they’ve built quite a bit of comb in that time. Hopefully that means that we’ve got a healthy queen who’s laying lots of eggs that will hatch into new bees in the next couple of weeks. They’re certainly busy flying out and bringing in loads of pollen when the weather is nice. Usually the side of the comb is completely covered with bees, but today it happened to be exposed when I peeked through the observation window, so I took a picture.

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I haven’t yet felt comfortable enough to bring the camera down while I’m actually opening the hive – I’m busy not panicking and trying to avoid squishing the little ladies. I’m still nervous, but in the two times I’ve had the hive actually open I’ve only seen one bee try to sting me and awesome bee shirt/hat and gloves protected me just fine. Maybe sometime in the next few months I can build up the courage to take some in-hive pictures.

Keeping bees seems to be a sort of heartbreaking thing. At the local beekeeper’s club meeting, the average from all the data they’ve collected is that 50% of hives make it through the winter. So… We should probably get at least one more hive to avoid having to buy a package on average every other spring, and to have a place to put our ladies if they grow enough bees that we could start a new hive. All credit goes to Ken for this hive, the only thing I did to assist in building it was to paint the outside. So Ken, better get crackin’ on another hive! Unfortunately (well, fortunately) one of our other live creatures that we take care of is about to need a major carpentry project. And frankly, this baby who is about to crawl around our baby-death-trap house is far more important than the bees. Railings and stairs come before a new bee-hive, I guess.

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The baby is a-growing

She is pretty much super cute.
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Working – why?

I went back to work about a month ago, and turns out that working 4 days a week and trying to get other stuff done around the house puts a damper on the blogging time even with an awesome mother-in-law around to help with the household chores.

Hiking with Grandma
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I was not looking forward to going back to work at all. I wasn’t looking forward to “me” time away from a demanding baby – I like her and she’s not particularly demanding. I wasn’t looking forward to looking “put together” and wearing nicer clothes. I wasn’t looking forward to adult interaction. I wasn’t looking forward to finishing my coffee in peace. Also, we intentionally structured our lives so we could live off of one income with minor hardship, so I don’t have to go back to work to afford to eat.

Watching Grandma hit some golf balls
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So why go back? Perhaps this is self aggrandizing, but I really think the work I do is important and there are relatively few people who can do it. God gave me the aptitude and desire to do what I do, so I feel like I should use that talent. I also enjoy my job and my coworkers, and I know this is sorta rare and a great blessing. I went to school for 8 years to get this job. I would not have considered my education a waste even if I hadn’t worked a day in the field because I enjoyed the vast majority of all 8 years of school and got paid to do it. However, I’m still having fun, so it seems like I should keep using that education that generous donors and the government paid for. Me working also gives Ken more freedom to take a greater risk in his career if the opportunity arises.

So far working is going fine. I’d still rather be home, but Anna seems to be thriving in the care of her Grandma, we are so thankful that she came to watch her for a couple of months.

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