Friday, March 23, 2012

Birds. Again.

There’s still an obsession in our family with birds. I’m not sure exactly how long this phase is going to last- but I’m not going to be left out. That’s why I left our public library yesterday with exactly 8 books about birds. (the other 8 were lovely rhyming books on mice and cookies).  Three year old Joey has hardly let go of his copy of “A Nature Company Guide, BIRDING”. I decided not to discriminate against the 282 page book full of small typed words like “attributes”, “daunting”, “species” and “vocalization”. I figured that it also, with a new bird on each page, provided great illustrations for my not yet literate toddler.

It’s a bit ridiculous to look at him lugging that book around. He dragged it from the couch to the bathroom to interrupt me blow drying my hair. “And what is this one?” he asked. I read, “A belted Kingfisher.”
 “A belted Kingfisher oh my favorite” he responded. I started the hairdryer again.
 “And what is this one?” He asked.
I turned off the hairdryer. “A Marbled Godwit” I read.
“Oh a marbled Godwit my favorite… and what is this one?”
I left the hairdryer on and yelled that it was a “Northern Pinhead.”, I paused, peered closer and corrected, “A Northern Pintail.”
“oh my favorite” He replied.

Today I looked over at Joey and Guy eating peanut butter toast and threatened that the next boy I heard making an owl call was getting a time out. An “owl call” is where they cup their little hands over their mouths and “Hoo Hoo” very loudly. Like loud and long enough to drive me crazy. I know. I’m the meanest mother ever.  It’s okay though. They took up “whistling.” Also known as making a high pitched noise while keeping their mouths in an “o” shape. Guy’s not really sure what’s going on. But Joey is super into it. So he is to.

Also today, perhaps trying to get over the slight guilt of two time outs over owl calls, I drew and cut out fifteen birds out of construction paper. The boys frantically colored them while I kept explaining to Joey that yes. I was aware that Robins aren’t purple. A goldfinch is not blue. I told him to color it anyway. I made a tree and we taped the birds in it. On request tomorrow we will make some owls and crows as well. Possibly. There is a chance that the construction paper will be nowhere to be found tomorrow.

Joey asked to go on a nature bird walk today. I told him we only do that with dad. I was not going to walk two miles only to fail at identifying every whistle. We went to the playground this evening instead. But we brought along that huge book anyway. Guess who ended up carrying that?
Tomorrow we will go on a nature bird walk. Tomorrow we will make some owl calls. Tomorrow I will make the decision to either cut out the requested crows on black paper and hear the complaint that they can’t color on black paper… or cut them out on colored paper and hear that crows aren’t orange.

How blessed am I?
Because I’m sure this is a phase. He’s three. It’s a phase. But soon he’ll be fourteen. And the phase might be computer games, or not talking to me. But now he is holding my hand and hanging on to every “chickadee dee dee” noise I make. For now- he’s all into birds. So all into birds we’ll be.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's time.

Oh! Is the temperature only going to reach a low of 38 degrees at night? Must be time to go backpacking with children! Joe is taking both the boys for a weekend trip up North to go ‘into the wild’ for a few days… I can’t believe it’s only March- but I’m not complaining! It's beautiful and reaching into the seventies and Little Ellabelle and I get to spend a girls weekend together while Joe, Joey and Guy get to do the muddy woods thing. Sounds like an excellent plan.

Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to pack this kiddo some pants.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I know I haven’t blogged in a while. For a couple of reasons.  I’ve been really really exhausted and have been trying to be in bed by 11pm. Leaving no real time to write. Or write anything more than a grocery list.
The other reason I haven’t blogged is that I’ve now had to negotiate the computer away from Husband Joe in the evenings. His new favorite web page is Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, Species Audios. Yes. It’s a website that has all the birds in Wisconsin and Minnesota and you can click on their names and learn the birdcalls. (Oh? That info is fascinating and changed your life? I know. Mine too.)
Now I’m not saying blogging stories is more important than the essential skill of identifying the Eastern Meadowlark that Joe heard at work today. Or more important than memorizing the call of the Sand Hill Crane so it can be recognized immediately. In fact both our toddlers can now recognize and name more birds than I can. We stepped outside the other day and Guy pointed out a Cardinal. Joey correctly identified a Morning Dove by its call. (Whistle? Sound? Noise? --Call.) I’m just explaining why I have not been online as promptly as before.
Husband Joe asked me to take my phone call into the other room a few minutes ago because he was trying to memorize some bird calls. And apparently the noise of my chit chat was interrupting the Warbling Vireo. Or something. Here’s a not so secret secret (I don’t really care about the birds). But which is actually more important- getting to my gmail faster? Or being able to identify the Scarlet Tanager?... Probably neither.
 But this evening we went walking in the woods. Joey stopped riding his bike to look up in the trees and yelled back to us that he saw a bird! Joe stooped down next to him to see it from his son’s eye level. Trying to listen, Guy was squinting. Apparently squinting helps him listen. Joey had his mouth open. Apparently that helps him listen. Ellie made her eyes super big. That helps her listen. All five of us became very very quiet. For at least fifteen seconds.
And I identified the sound of expectant silence- as three year old Joey waited for knowledge to be dropped like a ball into his outstretched hands. His dad leaned over and identified the bird. Joey caught and memorized “Pileated Woodpecker”. And as he rolled the name around making the connection for maybe the first time, I decided that listening to bird calls was not so useless.
I myself, tried to memorize the fabulous fifteen seconds of silence.  And we continued on our way.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Air Travel

For all of you that hate flying and for all of you that hate flying with a baby on your plane and for all of you that hate flying with a screaming baby on your plane—I apologize.
Ellie girl did pretty well this weekend as I hauled her on my lap to head out to see my family on the east coast. I was so stressed out about the whole ordeal.  Two 90 minute flights with a 3 hour layover in Detroit. With a walking, curious 10 month old. Constrained to my lap. I was sure we weren’t going to make it. But we did. I could write a 3 page paper about the whole travel experience. But I won’t. Here’s what I learned:

1.       Airlines ticket babies under 2 years old as a ‘lap child’ which means that since I did not pay for her seat- the airline treats her as a purse. Seriously. I did not have to show any identification that she was mine. I did not even have to announce that I was traveling with her in advance. I could literally just show up with a baby- show them it’s a real baby-and get on the plane. They care only about what they can charge you for. I said, “Here is my daughter do you need her birth certificate?” and the agent said, “No. But it’s 25 dollars for your checked bag.”

2.        If you mention the word ‘puke’ they let you cut in line through security.

3.       Apparently white substances over 3ml must be tested for possible bomb material even if it is in a baby bottle. And the baby is drinking it.

4.       A gate agent will not be very helpful if you politely ask to change seats. If you hold a screaming child inches away from their face and say, “WE HAVE HAD A VERY ROUGH DAY. I’M SURE YOU COULD CHANGE OUR SEATS TO AN EMPTY ROW.” --- They are much more accommodating.

5.       Flight attendants will not provide hot water. They will however fill an air sickness bag with hot water and let you warm the bottle in it.

6.       People are nicer than you think. Ellie cried non stop (well she stopped for 10 minutes) during a 90 minute flight. I kept apologizing to the people around me. They all smiled, and nodded reassuringly saying “it’s fine. We understand.” Of course they were lying but I appreciated it.

7.       The bottle you bring on the plane for your baby to drink to help her ears during take off and landing will be entirely consumed before you finish taxi-ing to the runway.
8.       Therefore your baby will probably cry during take off.
9.       And landing.

10.   When your baby looks out the window with her little nose pressed against the plastic amazed that she is taller than the trees and face to face with clouds – you should probably take a moment to be amazed too.

11.   Let the nice woman sitting next to you hold your baby if she offers. She probably really wants to hold a baby. Ellie cried with me and then stopped with the distraction of a new face. And I think it made the stranger’s day- she thought she must be a baby whisperer. Fine by me.

12.   Say no when the beverage cart comes around. Just say no to an open cup of liquid within an arm’s reach of a baby. No. Even if you’re thirsty. Really thirsty. No.

13.   Seeing the faces of family is always worth it. I am grateful that we live in a country that we can freely travel in, and thankful for the money to be able to do so. Ignore the face of the person next to you when they realize they won the coveted seat that’s in front of the bathroom and next to a crying baby. Ignore the tight seats and huge diaper bag so zero leg room. Ignore the stress.  Ignore the million of little germs shooting down on you and your child from those air conditioners.
The faces of family are always worth it. The face of family is always worth it.