Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mama haiku of the day

Planning for summer.
Camps. Sports. Always use pencil
in your calendar.

Always an exciting catch

We did a little fishing this past weekend in the farm pond. Yes, it's stocked and catching a fish is just a matter of tossing in a line. (The fish have been known to bite on just a hook -- no bait required.)
But seeing the excitement in Toby's face was a good reminder that kids love fishing. He was extremely proud of himself for casting and reeling in his very own fish, as you can see by this shot. There's just something about bringing a fish to the surface, like you are witnessing a visiting alien. And what little boy doesn't like aliens?
I think we've got a little fisherman on our hands...

Always an exciting catch

We did a little fishing this past weekend in the farm pond. Yes, it's stocked and catching a fish is just a matter of tossing in a line. (The fish have been known to bite on just a hook -- no bait required.)
But seeing the excitement in Toby's face was a good reminder that kids love fishing. He was extremely proud of himself for casting and reeling in his very own fish, as you can see by this shot. There's just something about bringing a fish to the surface, like you are witnessing a visiting alien. And what little boy doesn't like aliens?
I think we've got a little fisherman on our hands...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Who knew that ducks could read?

Last summer, during my rampage of trying to instill my children with a love of the outdoors and nature, I decided to make a pledge to bring wildlife to my backyard.
You have to understand that for me to actually INVITE wildlife to my personal space was a big step, since I’ve had such outstanding luck with animals even when they were not invited. (Think: snapping turtles under the porch, squirrels in my garage, birds in my house, rabbits in my dogs’ mouths, etc.) But the things we do for the love of our children, right?
So with my husband laughing at me all the way, I went to the National Wildlife Federation Web site and registered my little backyard as a certified wildlife habitat. To qualify for this prestigious status, you must provide the four basics needs for animals: water, food, shelter, and a place to raise their young.
And a small donation, of course. But that goes without saying.
For an extra fee, you can purchase your very own aluminum sign to proudly display. Besides being a great teaching tool for children, this sign serves many other purposes. It is a nice reminder to do your part for wildlife and keep those feeders full. It is also fantastic for explaining to your neighbors why your backyard is “au natural” and doesn’t look as nice as theirs.
But maybe it also serves as an invitation for wildlife, as in “hey! Check out the sign! This looks like a good place to move in – we’ve got everything we need right here!”
It happened just in time for Earth Day, when everywhere you turn and everything you hear is telling you to go green. Live green. Do green. Eat green. Be green. Put Kermit to shame.
In the midst of the greenness, while so many of us are grumbling about gas prices, a little something waddled into my yard, past my sign, and gave me another reason to be kind to the environment. There is a mama mallard (aka Millie) nesting in my flower bed, behind the lilac bush and directly against the side of my house.
She lays one egg each morning and then walks away, leaving her nest unattended except for the fact that we all find ourselves peeking out the front door dozens of times each day, completely amazed by this act of nature happening so close to us. Once she finishes laying all of her eggs (which can be anywhere from seven to twelve) she’ll come back for good and sit day and night, leaving only for a quick bite to eat, until her babies hatch.
The eggs will all hatch at roughly the same time and within a matter of minutes, Millie and her brood will waddle off to their watery home, which I’m hoping is the retention pond across the street. How neat it would be to see the babies swimming around that came from that hole in our mulch!
So even though Earth Day has come and gone, I’m glad I’m still doing my part to keep my own little part of the world clean and wildlife friendly. I’ve got a good quacking reason to do so, especially if it means an open invitation for critters just out my back door.
For more information on how to certify your own backyard, please visit www.nwf.org/backyard.

The attack of the milestones

It seems like only yesterday I was hovering over my oldest daughter, thinking to myself, “c’mon, roll over already! What are you, four and a half months old? Do it! Make this milestone happen! Don’t you want to be exceptionally advanced?!?”
And today I’m looking at my new baby, now four and a half months old, enjoying every second that she can’t roll over. I’m loving the fact that she can’t sit up yet and that she’s still not eating real food. I’m savoring each toothless smile and drop of drool, and yes, even each dirty diaper.
Why? Because I am learning more and more each day that they grow up so fast. Too fast.
I realized the speed of growth the other day at the dinner table when my oldest daughter told me about her day in kindergarten.
“I learned a new game at recess,” she said.
I’m expecting Red Rover or TV Tag. Maybe Keep-Away or Chase-the-Boys. Instead I heard, “it’s called Truth or Dare.”
Still keeping my cool and hoping for a preschool-type version of the game where truths range from “what’s your favorite color” to “do you ever pick your nose” and dares involved spinning or jumping, I asked her, in my innocence, to explain how you play this new game.
“Well, someone asks you if you want a truth or a dare. If you pick dare, you have to run the end of the playground or something like that.”
OK, sounds decent enough.
“And if you pick truth, they ask you a question like, ‘do you like a boy’ or ‘have you ever kissed a boy,’ stuff like that,” she told me so matter-of-factly, it caught me off guard.
You know in the old cartoons when a character is shocked so much that his jaw literally falls to the floor and his eyes bulge out like bugles? I think that actually happened to me. A little bit, at least.
My little girl is playing Truth or Dare and worrying about liking boys in kindergarten? In the blink of my eye, she went from being a non-rolling drooler just laying on the floor, to having to fess up by the swings whether or not, at the age of six, she’s been in lip-lock with a boy other than her daddy.
And while sitting there with my bottom jaw in my bowl of spaghetti I started to comprehend that this news, as shocking as it is, is really just another milestone. Another milestone in a long line of milestones that seem to be coming at me faster than I can handle these days.
Maybe it’s the finality in knowing that we won’t be having any more babies in our house, or maybe it’s knowing that once our children go out on their own into school, they are no longer in our safe-haven and protected from these playground games. Or maybe it’s just hard to swallow that our little girls and little boys grow up, no matter how we may try to stop them.
So now I think the only thing I can do to survive these milestones is to enjoy my kids every step of the way, from that first time they roll over, to their first round of Truth or Dare, to that fateful day they get behind the wheel and drive away.
“Hey Mom,” my son, age four, says yesterday, “when I’m old enough to drive, I’m going to get one of those cars with no roofs. A convertible. And then, when you need to go somewhere, you can sit in the backseat and relax and I’ll just drive you there.”
When that time comes, I’m pretty sure I won’t be relaxed, but I do hope I can enjoy the ride.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Such is life in nature, right?

Well, an update.
She laid a total of five eggs...and hasn't come back since. We're all a little bummed about it, to be honest.
Strange enough, the first day she didn't show up was the first day Canada Geese moved in at the pond across the street -- coincidence or not? Anyone know?

Such is life in nature, right?

Well, an update.
She laid a total of five eggs...and hasn't come back since. We're all a little bummed about it, to be honest.
Strange enough, the first day she didn't show up was the first day Canada Geese moved in at the pond across the street -- coincidence or not? Anyone know?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Have you heard about the ducks?

Visit my other blog, Outdoor Mama, for more info!
www.outdoormama.blogspot.com

As promised, parent drivers…where’s my soapbox?

For those of you who missed last week’s column, I told a gut-wrenching story of how I publicly humiliated myself in my daughter’s elementary school by being one of “those” moms who fusses and complains about everything. I was arm-waiving and whining about parents putting their kindergartners in the front seat of the car at an already chaotic school pick-up.
And as much as I’d like to take a few deep breaths and unwind from my semi-frenzied state, I just can’t. Not when it comes to something as important as keeping our kids safe.
Let me first tell you that I am not one of those overly protective parents that have outlet covers and foam padding all over my home. I have never installed a safety latch on a kitchen or bathroom cupboard, and don’t own those doorknob kid-proof contraptions because I can’t even operate them myself. I don’t even require my kids to wear bike helmets…oh, the humanity!
But not when it comes to carseat safety.
When I was kid, I remember riding in the back of my Grandfather’s truck, rolled up in a ball to see how hard we could smack the sides when he took a corner. Or I’d perch myself in the “top bunk” under the rear window of my dad’s car where I’d roast in the magnified sun. And I lived, right? So why the strap-‘em-down philosophy now?
I listen to the recommendations, follow the rules, and take all precautions for two simple reasons: 1) I can’t control what other drivers do and how they drive and 2) I would never be able to live with myself if something happened to one of my kids because I was being lazy.
And I really think it’s all about being lazy.
Let me tell you, I have three children, ages 6, 4, and an infant. My kids are blessed with a long, lean physique, meaning that they respectively weigh 44, 32, and 12 pounds – barely more than a sack of sugar. Because of their weights and ages and the type of vehicle I drive, I have three carseats SQUEEZED into the back seat. To reach the middle carseat, I have to turn around in the front seat and contort my body to fasten the buckles on the harness. Trust me, it’s not easy. And I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve never broken a sweat trying to get all three kids buckled in.
But to me, it’s worth it. I’m willing to work a little harder and even break a sweat to ensure that my kids are as safe as they can be in the car. So when I see people driving around with a young child strapped in the front seat, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder why these people aren’t going the extra mile.
Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe they just don’t know.
So for those who fall into the second catergory (lazy people, you’re on your own. I’ve said my piece.), here are the recommendations (not laws, mind you) for children riding in booster seats and front seats of vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov):
-Children should be 4 years old AND 40 pounds before moving to a booster seat.
-Children should be in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are over 4’9”.
-Children ages 12 and younger should be secured by an age-appropriate restraint system in the rear seat of the vehicle. (This will reduce their risk of injury or death by 30%, whether the car has a passenger air bag or not!)
I should also mention that the first car accident I was in took place five houses down from my childhood neighborhood home. Accidents can happen anywhere, so you might want to rethink even short trips when you say to yourself, “nothing can happen, I’m just driving home from kindergarten pick-up.”
You never know when there will be a crazy lady, waiving her arms and publically humiliating herself behind the wheel of a three-carseat vehicle.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Make way for ducklings!!

It's not everyday your flower bed becomes nesting grounds for a mallard duck...

A few days ago, Toby and I found what we thought to be an egg on the side of the house. And, sure enough, it was. After some research, we figured it to be a mallard egg.

Mallards lay one egg each day until they have layed them all (around 10, usually), and then they return to the nest to sit for 26-30 days.

The next day, we went back out to see if there was another egg-- she could have layed that first one days ago and abandoned the nest, and we could have just missed seeing.

But, just as it should be, there was a second egg in the nest! (It's buried in the mulch and you can't see it in this photo, but you can really see that it is indeed RIGHT NEXT to our house!)


This morning when I woke up, I snuck outside crossing my fingers to see if egg number three would be there. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? MAMA DUCK!! Look at that brilliant camoflauge!

Stay tuned for more pictures and stories...

Make way for ducklings!!

It's not everyday your flower bed becomes nesting grounds for a mallard duck...

A few days ago, Toby and I found what we thought to be an egg on the side of the house. And, sure enough, it was. After some research, we figured it to be a mallard egg.

Mallards lay one egg each day until they have layed them all (around 10, usually), and then they return to the nest to sit for 26-30 days.

The next day, we went back out to see if there was another egg-- she could have layed that first one days ago and abandoned the nest, and we could have just missed seeing.

But, just as it should be, there was a second egg in the nest! (It's buried in the mulch and you can't see it in this photo, but you can really see that it is indeed RIGHT NEXT to our house!)


This morning when I woke up, I snuck outside crossing my fingers to see if egg number three would be there. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? MAMA DUCK!! Look at that brilliant camoflauge!

Stay tuned for more pictures and stories...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Can geckos swim?

This was the question of the day.

Answer: YES.

Answer supplied by my dad, who in his South Carolina home caught a gecko and put it in some water.

Thanks, dad!

Can geckos swim?

This was the question of the day.

Answer: YES.

Answer supplied by my dad, who in his South Carolina home caught a gecko and put it in some water.

Thanks, dad!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My recommendations for the last 10%

I knew I needed a vacation because I caught myself getting pretty riled up at kindergarten pick-up time. Don't get me wrong, pick-up time after school is a time where one is justifiably allowed to be frustrated-- there are kids and cars everywhere and its mass chaos for a solid ten to fifteen minutes. Sometimes I need to practice Lamaze breathing techniques just to get through it without keeling over on the sidewalk.
But then I found myself yelling and waiving my arms at a woman who parked illegally and left her other kid in the car when she picked up her child, while I parked a block away and toted my two kids through the knee-deep snow.
I'm talking mega arm waiving. I was a veritable lunatic, very publicly humiliating myself.
Then not a day later at the same pick-up, I noticed how many parents were letting their kindergartners ride in the front seat of the car and was totally outraged. ''Don't they know how unsafe that is?? I can’t believe these people. They are risking their children’s lives!'' I yelled to anyone who would listen, and to some who probably didn’t want to.
Worse yet, I even emailed the principal of the elementary school to warn her of this scandalous parenting technique and asked if she could remind parents how lazy they were being by not putting their kid in the backseat.
And even worse yet, when she didn't respond to my maniacal cries, I was determined to write an entire column on the basic safety issues of kids riding in car seats, in which I would give a friendly reminder on how to take care of our little ones while on the road, while I casually berated parents who don’t follow the laws. (I still may do this…be forewarned.)
As you can see, the stress was starting to build up a bit.
But then we went on a little vacation, visiting my parents and grandparents. For a few days, I had a constant extra set of hands around to help me. Someone actually cooked me meals and then did the dishes. I even took a tiny bit of Me Time and read a book without pictures.
Not only that bit of loveliness, but seeing as we were away from home and on a school break we had an open calendar. It was, as you’d expect, quite enjoyable to kick back and relax. And just as we had stepped out of our stressful lives, I was able to step back and take a good look at that stressful life and realize just how ridiculous it is.
C’mon…yelling at kindergarten pick-up? Is that what my life had become? There has to be something better out there.
I think that in one’s head and heart, there’s a certain amount of energy for thinking and doing. You can only spend so much energy at any given moment, and it’s what you put it towards that really matters.
Mostly you have to do the mundane things in life, the things you need for basic survival. For me and many of my readers, that means that 30% of the energy goes towards cooking, 30% to housework, 10% to changing diapers, 10% to driving, and 10% towards remembering when to send the snack to school.
But what about that last 10%? Is it worth it to spend that last tiny bit on the lady who parked in the yellow zone?
Nope.
And while sitting on the back patio of my parent’s house, I decided right then and there that I was going to take that last bit of energy and save it for myself, to be used whichever way I want that will make me feel a happy 100%, and to never risk having a coronary at pick-up time again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No more Snappy, please.

We're slowly approaching the one year anniversary of Snappy, the gigantic snapping turtle that crawled under our back deck to lay her eggs. (You can see the dark, poor quality video here: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/snappy-removal/3542902338).
Since then, we've learned a lot about snapping turtles and turtles of all sorts...

In Ohio, the box turtle is the only turtle that can pull it's head and arms completely in it's shell.

I didn't know that....but now I do.

No more Snappy, please.

We're slowly approaching the one year anniversary of Snappy, the gigantic snapping turtle that crawled under our back deck to lay her eggs. (You can see the dark, poor quality video here: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/snappy-removal/3542902338).
Since then, we've learned a lot about snapping turtles and turtles of all sorts...

In Ohio, the box turtle is the only turtle that can pull it's head and arms completely in it's shell.

I didn't know that....but now I do.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mom, pass the nachos

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas??? It no longer works. Instead she's serving nachos.

Poor, poor Pluto, we learned, isn't a planet anymore.

It's a dwarf planet. And it's got a messy orbit.

My kids are always asking me obscure questions, so that we have to look them up. i've decided to start posting the answers should anyone else have this problem. Today, Ellen asked why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

Apparently, it was decided in 2006 what the real definition of a planet is. In order to be real planet, it has to, among other things, dominate it's orbit. And Pluto's not doing it's part to clean it's orbit, which is very similar to the way Ellen doesn't clean her room. Pluto's orbit is filled with asteroids and other such outer-space garbage, Ellen's room is filled with dirty clothes, notepads, and Barbie shoes.

Not only that, but Pluto's moon is nearly half it's size, so much that Pluto isn't the real 'boss' of the orbit, similar to the way that Toby is over half the size of Ellen and therefore doesn't let her rule the roost.

Who knew kids and planets could be so much alike?

In any case, we've got to change the old saying. I chose "nachos" but if someone else has a better idea, by all means chime in!

(This post originally appeared on Karrie's Outdoor Mama blog. Visit it here.)

Mom, bring the nachos

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas??? It no longer works. Instead she's serving nachos.

Poor, poor Pluto, we learned, isn't a planet anymore.

It's a dwarf planet. And it's got a messy orbit.

My kids are always asking me obscure questions, so that we have to look them up. i've decided to start posting the answers should anyone else have this problem. Today, Ellen asked why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

Apparently, it was decided in 2006 what the real definition of a planet is. In order to be real planet, it has to, among other things, dominate it's orbit. And Pluto's not doing it's part to clean it's orbit, which is very similar to the way Ellen doesn't clean her room. Pluto's orbit is filled with asteroids and other such outer-space garbage, Ellen's room is filled with dirty clothes, notepads, and Barbie shoes.

Not only that, but Pluto's moon is nearly half it's size, so much that Pluto isn't the real 'boss' of the orbit, similar to the way that Toby is over half the size of Ellen and therefore doesn't let her rule the roost.

Who knew kids and planets could be so much alike?

In any case, we've got to change the old saying. I chose "nachos" but if someone else has a better idea, by all means chime in!

Mom, bring the nachos

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas??? It no longer works. Instead she's serving nachos.

Poor, poor Pluto, we learned, isn't a planet anymore.

It's a dwarf planet. And it's got a messy orbit.

My kids are always asking me obscure questions, so that we have to look them up. i've decided to start posting the answers should anyone else have this problem. Today, Ellen asked why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

Apparently, it was decided in 2006 what the real definition of a planet is. In order to be real planet, it has to, among other things, dominate it's orbit. And Pluto's not doing it's part to clean it's orbit, which is very similar to the way Ellen doesn't clean her room. Pluto's orbit is filled with asteroids and other such outer-space garbage, Ellen's room is filled with dirty clothes, notepads, and Barbie shoes.

Not only that, but Pluto's moon is nearly half it's size, so much that Pluto isn't the real 'boss' of the orbit, similar to the way that Toby is over half the size of Ellen and therefore doesn't let her rule the roost.

Who knew kids and planets could be so much alike?

In any case, we've got to change the old saying. I chose "nachos" but if someone else has a better idea, by all means chime in!

Nature Activity -- Helping our little birdie friends!

Here in Ohio we have just had our first springlike weekend of the year. Everyone in my neighborhood was outside, trying to make our mud-filled brown yards look a little better. It is a sign of spring.

Another sign of spring is that we are seeing robins again. And in the spirit of our birdie friends, this month's activity is just for them.

Birds make their nests in different ways. Some birds nest on the ground, others in trees. Some make their nests out of mud. Some make a dozen nests and let their mate pick the best one (philisophical question -- would this work in the human world?) But many birds make their nests in trees out of materials such as grass and twigs. Birds also use non-natural items to make their nests, such as string and fabric.

This month's activity is meant to help them along.

NESTING BAG

Items needed: Mesh potato or onion bagBits of string, yarn, fabric strips, grasses

How to do it:Have your scissor-lovin' kids cut up a bunch of yarn or string, and simply put it in the bag. Also collect dried grasses from your yard -- we pulled some of the dead leaves from an old day lily. Once your mesh bag is full enough, thread a piece of yarn through the mesh to seal it up. You'll want to make sure that it is full enough that birds can grab at the materials through the mesh. Once it's all set, hang it from a tree and wait to see if any of your yarn ends up in a local nest!



Collecting leaves from last year's day lily...
Now we sit and wait!

Nature Activity -- Helping our little birdie friends!

Here in Ohio we have just had our first springlike weekend of the year. Everyone in my neighborhood was outside, trying to make our mud-filled brown yards look a little better. It is a sign of spring.

Another sign of spring is that we are seeing robins again. And in the spirit of our birdie friends, this month's activity is just for them.

Birds make their nests in different ways. Some birds nest on the ground, others in trees. Some make their nests out of mud. Some make a dozen nests and let their mate pick the best one (philisophical question -- would this work in the human world?) But many birds make their nests in trees out of materials such as grass and twigs. Birds also use non-natural items to make their nests, such as string and fabric.

This month's activity is meant to help them along.

NESTING BAG

Items needed: Mesh potato or onion bagBits of string, yarn, fabric strips, grasses

How to do it:Have your scissor-lovin' kids cut up a bunch of yarn or string, and simply put it in the bag. Also collect dried grasses from your yard -- we pulled some of the dead leaves from an old day lily. Once your mesh bag is full enough, thread a piece of yarn through the mesh to seal it up. You'll want to make sure that it is full enough that birds can grab at the materials through the mesh. Once it's all set, hang it from a tree and wait to see if any of your yarn ends up in a local nest!



Collecting leaves from last year's day lily...
Now we sit and wait!

Saturday, April 5, 2008



Celebrating Easter!

That's my grandparents with the Easter Bunny. You can't tell me they don't look fabulous. And of course, baby Annie with the ears, and Ellen and Toby making out bigtime at the Easter egg hunt.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin
This page and all its content are copyright 2006-2010 Karrie McAllister.