Madeleine officially entered the "terrific twos" recently and with that turning she continues to be a pretty terrific kid.

As her vocabulary explodes we have wondered "Where has our little girl gone?" when she now says "Peek-a-boo" instead of simply "peek." Her favored manner of communicating continues to be with shouted exclamations and imperatives. She did enjoy announcing to the entire congregation during an especially quiet moment at mass recently "Poop!" as she pretended to change her baby doll's diaper.

Favorite activities continue to be playing with her doll (now she likes to nurse it), feeding the chickens and going on egg hunts (she can identify their cackles when they've just laid an egg), visiting our two beehives where she flaps her arms and implores the bees to "fly!", and any other outdoor activity, especially if it involves dirt, water, cats, climbing, swinging, or riding on the back of mommy's bike. We are fortunate to have many wonderful neighbors who welcome her presence in their front and back yards, because she thinks those are extensions of her yard anyway.

In this most recent quarter of her life, Madeleine became a seasoned traveler. We spent five days in Santa Cruz on a retreat in April where she loved the ocean and beaches. We then took a week-long road trip to Oregon in May, where she quickly took to farm life with its various domesticated animals, tractors, and a large trampoline. The week-long trip to Illinois and Indiana via airplane in June was exciting too. Her introvert side came out strong on the first two trips, but  she proved to be quite the precocious show-off to her grandparents, great-grandarents and other extended family in the midwest.

We had a great birthday week—remember we have 3 days of labor to celebrate. It was the second year in a row we tried plum pie as the birthday dessert since July brings us thousands of plums from our three trees. This year Madeleine took one bite of pie and wailed, "No. Crackers!" as in "I want crackers instead." We had a small party with mostly neighbors present. It was gratifying to see what a well-loved figure Madeleine has become on our block. Two of her godparents also came and they suggested a small parade around the block with the birthday girl leading the way. She happily blew her kazoo at the head of the procession, but later was upset when we returned home without having witnessed a "real" parade that included horses in it.

Photos from the past few months can be seen here.

The time came to retire the coop we built for our first flock and get some new digs for our current flock.

The coop we built from some diagrams in an old organic gardening magazine served it's purpose well, but had some drawbacks.  It was very heavy and difficult to move, quite hard to clean, and hard to completely secure.  The final straw was when we found a mouse or rat was trying to take up residence in the next boxes.

For the new coop, we settled on a Chick-N-Hutch with an attachable Chick-N-Rabbit Pen.  It was easy to put together, is relatively light, and was cheaper than the materials we spent on the original coop. It has a pan under the wire mesh floor that collects the poop and can easily be slid out. 

The coop also has a pole across it, so that the girls can perch at night.  While there's room for all four to do this, they're still fighting over who gets to sleep on the perch (two or three of them win, and the other one or two sleep under them on the wire mesh).

The only major downside so far was that it had an unsecured swinging panel on the back wall that we thought a raccoon could exploit.  I replaced it with a thicker hinged door with a latch.

Soon after we set up the coop, Madeleine learned that if she got scared of the chickens (pecking or chasing her, which they occassionally do) she could run inside the coop and close the door behind her.

PaulAndAnn.org has a new look, a new home, new features, and a lot new under the hood.  We are now hosted at Joyent, rather than on the Linux machine under my desk (I would always cringe when I could hear the CPU fan cranking hard on a hot day).

Of particular note:
  • You can leave comments to our blog posts.
  • The new image at the top of the page is at a park near Ann's parents' house, from our recent trip to South Bend.
  • A facelift for photo albums, with pop-up preview mode and access to downloading the full-sized images (hopefully to the delight of certain grandparents).
  • Paging of blog articles, so you don't have to wait for all of them to render when loading the main page.
  • Everything's faster!
Let us know if you see anything amiss as we complete the transition.  For those who care, the site is running on a new CMS engine I have written in Ruby on Rails for use with other consulting client.