Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Finally...some progress!!

I'm finally starting to come out of the first trimester funk and feeling like I'm able to get some things accomplished. Knitting is still not quite there on the list yet, but if I can keep working on the other things I've going going on the front burners, it will be ready to come off the back burner very soon.

This weekend was very busy in terms of getting things done. Got the garden tilled, planted, and put up the fence to keep the dog out on Friday. Even jumped in the pool next door for about 20 minutes. The kids, on the other hand, spent quite a fair bit longer in the pool. Liam's getting brave and has tried underwater swimming with a mask (a huge leap of faith for him!), while Jonah was ready to go skinny dipping after only a short time in the pool. Clothing has become optional in his mind this past week. It's been a struggle to keep him dressed.

Hopefully by the end of summer we'll have broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers (2 kinds), cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes (3 kinds), watermelon, celery, and plenty of fresh herbs.

Saturday, Liam and I went and picked up a pre-cut swing-and-slide kit from the Home Despot. Supposedly, this was supposed to be an easy assemble. Three to 6 hours of assembly by 2 adults it says on the box in a big star. More like 3 to 6 days. By the end of the first day, we only managed to get the tower assembled. Two days later, we have it mostly finished. There are only a couple more things that need added, like the two-person swing and periscope. Oh...and the monkey bar kit. The monkey bars will not be happening for quite a while yet. This will require a weekend where the children can vacate the premesis for parent sanity.

Both the boys have enjoyed the swingset so far, as has the neighbor girl who came to play today. If I can ever get the rest of the house in order, I'll finally feel good about having some of Liam's friends over for play dates knowing they'll have plenty to keep them occupied with. The slide is wicked fast, as per my personal experience (gotta make sure these things are safe, ya know?), so I can see the kids really having a good time with the whole set.

Father's day ended up being a working holiday for poor Cliff, as he was stuck helping me assemble the swingset, but we made up for it yesterday with full homemade breakfast of waffles, eggs, and bacon, a fairly lazy day (we only hung the hand grips for the rock wall and the pirate's ladder) with an afternoon nap, and we grilled out on his new grill that I snuck out to get at 10 pm (closing time for Lowe's...sneaky I am...) the day before Father's Day. Today we celebrated 8 years of blissful marriage (Is that all? he asks).

Although med school has been put on hiatus for a couple of years, I got my much anticipated MCAT scores today. I did far better than I thought I could, given my practice scores on the Kaplan exams. I was so excited that I screamed when I saw them and scared poor Liam who was standing right next to me. The scores are good enough to get me into any of the medical schools I was looking to apply to, so all I need now are my letters of recommendation...well...and a couple years to let the littlest bean grow up a bit. I'm all about playing things by ear, but at least now I know I have options.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

An empty nest

Today has been a day of lessons on the wonder and cruelty of Mother Nature. As I had anticipated yesterday, our baby robins decided that today was the day to fly the coop. When I first awoke and came down to the kitchen, the biggest baby was sitting on the very edge of the nesting box and was looking to take a leap. Somehow in the process of getting everyone breakfast, I missed the actual first flight of the big baby, and by the time I came back to the window to watch, there were two babies left in the nest, and the one that had left was nowhere to be seen. The second biggest baby was then showing his bravery, flapping his wings and going to where his brother/sister first must have flown from. Liam was insistent on eating his breakfast at our nook where he could watch the nest, while Jonah was set up at the table in the front room. After finishing our cereal, the second baby had not yet taken the leap but made several ventures out to the edge of the nesting box. We all gathered in the kitchen to watch, and we all cheered the baby on. You'd have thought it was a major sporting event, and we were cheering for our favorite athlete. Finally, with us all as his witness and celebrating, middle baby took a wonky flutter from the nesting box toward the back of the yard. He/she flapped to the garden and then off to the back fence, awkward as could be, but with one of the parents watching closely. We watched the little thing fly to the fence, skitter over the neighbors shed, and then flutter off into another neighbor's yard.

We were all so excited. We went out and checked on the nest. One baby left. The last baby was the smallest (the one with his/her eyes closed in yesterday's picture), and I didn't think that it would be ready for flying today. I was a little concerned that with the two bigger babies gone from the nest that the parent birds might neglect the runt (as I know some animals do), but for the remainder of the afternoon while we were out, one of the parents would come back periodically with a snack for the baby.

After we napped in the afternoon, I saw the baby still in the nest, and assumed there would be no grand flight for him/her today. Hubby and I are taking dance lessons with the neighbors, so I had to get ready for those. The boys played in the house while I got ready, and not long before we were ready to head next door, the dog began carrying on in the back yard.

Normally, I would assume that he had a squirrel treed, as he insists on chasing them through the back yard, crazy dog under the powerlines with the squirrel dancing across the black tightrope, likely giving him the middle finger or at least sticking out a tongue once across. Bailey always wants to make his presence known to the squirrels. He actually once caught and mangled one, and in my guilt of owning a squirrel mangler, I put on thick leather gloves, rescued the injured guy (not before getting bit on the knuckle, however) and dragged him in a box to a local vet to see if he had a chance of surviving. I figured if he was vivacious enough to bite me, surely he had a chance. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be so. But I digress....

So, as I put my earrings in, I sent Liam out to the back yard to see what all the yapping was about. Liam quickly came flying back in the house. The dog had gotten one of the robins. Liam assumed it was the mommy or daddy, but when I saw the mottled feathers, I knew it was the last baby. Sure enough, empty nest.

The little guy had decided to take a chance at flying after all, but with the dog out in the yard and unsure wings, he didn't have a chance. Bailey had really done a number on the little guy, and by the time we got to him, he was pretty much dead.

Liam was mortified (as was I). I had to explain that the poor baby bird was going to die, that there wasn't a Band-Aid in the world big enough to fix him. At that point, I was pretty much at a loss and having a hard time containing my own tears. Shift into mommy mode. I instructed the boys to guard the crime scene and got my gardening gloves. I picked the mangled baby up and told him/her how very sorry we were that he/she didn't get a chance to grow up to be a big robin. I may have called the dog a brute and banished him to the house until we were to leave.

We decided that our baby bird needed a good impromptu funeral, but finding a good location was a little tricky, as we didn't want the dog coming back out and digging up the spot. So Liam helped me pick a spot in the back corner of the yard near our compost heap, and I dug a hole.
I placed the bird in the hole, said a few words about him/her going back to the earth and nourishing Mother Nature's other creatures and that Bailey was sorry. I covered him over and put a brick on the spot to keep the dog from digging him back up. Poor Liam was beside himself. I told him it was okay to cry, that death is often a sad thing, but that it's also a part of Mother Nature's circle of life. Bailey is a retriever, and it's his part of his instincts to chase and hunt animals. He can't help it. Liam was insistent that the mommy and daddy bird would need to come lay another egg to replace the lost baby. I told him that maybe some time they would, but right now they had two other birds that needed to be raised before any other babies could come along, and that another baby doesn't always make the hurt get better, that it takes time.

As it turns out, the neighbor's dog also got a hold of a baby robin this morning. I'm hoping that it's not one of our babies, but it may be. I wasn't expecting how emotionally invested the kids (and I for that matter) would get in the babies, and I wasn't expecting to have to have another deep conversation with Liam about the nature of death (we had quite the intense discussion of it the other day, but I'm not mentally equipped to discuss it at the moment).

I wasn't sure if the birds come back to the nest at night once they've left, so I checked the nest tonight after we got home from our lesson. Still empty. So we will watch for our robins tomorrow, and if they haven't returned, we'll clean the nesting box out and let another family of birds give it a try. A house sparrow tried to land in the box today, and the babies chased him off, so we'll see who makes it home next.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

School's out, school's out, teacher let the monkeys out

Summer break has officially started here now that Liam finished school last Friday. While I have been on break for a month, it hasn't really felt like break when I've had to get up early to drive him to school or to be there to pick him up. Already, bedtimes are stretching way past the 8 o'clock he's used to, and we've all been sleeping in. That part has been lovely.

Last day of school they had a closing ceremony where the teacher invited all the parents to come in for the last 45 minutes of class. The children put on a performance where they sang and acted out each song and poem they'd learned during circle time over the course of the ENTIRE school year. As Liam said a few weeks ago, "it's so sweet it makes me want to cry." And cry I did.

After the songs were over, the teacher led each of the children who would be moving on to first grade over the rainbow bridge and gave them a bouquet of flowers. For those children who would be returning to her class next year, she'd made little felt heart pins for them to wear to help keep their friends in their hearts over the summer. I tried to take pictures, but Jonah was not interested in sitting through the ceremony. He was much more interested in playing and going over the rainbow bridge and having a seat to himself.

On the home front, we've started working in the garden again with hopes to have the plants we bought yesterday in the ground by tomorrow. Our robin babies are getting ready to think about leaving the nest. They fill it so completely on their own now that the parents can barely fit in with them. All three babies have their fledgling feathers and are a mottled brown and grey on their backs and a mottled orange and brown on their bellies. They aren't sure what to make of us. One of the babies is a bit bigger than the others and he is always the one who sees us coming first, because he's usually sitting on the side of the nest. All the babies hunker down in the nest when we get too close, but the big one still seems to be the bravest. He was flapping his wings in the box today, a sure sign that it will probably only be a matter of a day or so before they're off and flying. Mommy and daddy robin have been doing overtime bringing food for the babies. In the past few days, it has gotten quite raucous when the parents return to the nest with food, as the babies chirp excitedly for their meals. The parents are nearly as noisy. They don't like us hanging around, and profess this with squeaks and chirps. My boys have been fascinated with watching them, especially Jonah. He will stand atop the four bags of mulch stacked on the back patio with his binoculars and watch them. "Aren't they so cute?" he will repeat multiple times, until one of the parents comes back and I have to pull him down so they can get to the nest. Having the robins nesting has been fun, but Liam is ready for them to leave so we don't have to tiptoe around the nest anymore.

Here's a picture of the robins. Just like any family with three kids, inevitably, someone has their eyes closed when the shutter snaps.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Yes, I do still blog....

Been a busy week since I posted last. Part of why I haven't been posting is that I get my morning sickness in the evenings. By the time I get time to sit down in front of the computer and post (when the kiddos are in bed), I feel too yucky to sit in front of the computer. I haven't even been knitting lately. Hubby says you know I'm sick when I can't knit. I had the same problem when I was pregnant with Jonah. Something about knitting made me sorta motion sick until I got into my second trimester. Not too much further to go before I get there, so I'll be happy to get back to the needles and regular bloggin'. I spent most of the week getting ready to go to Indiana.

We spent the weekend in Indiana visiting my family, and a good time was had by all. The trip out there (5 hours in the car by myself with a 2.5-year-old and a 5.5-year-old...) was not fun at all, despite the DVD player we borrowed from a neighbor, but once we got there, it was worth the trip. Went to a wedding on Saturday that was held at a bed and breakfast resort right on Lake Michigan for a cousin that I haven't seen since childhood. The kids had a ball. The weather wasn't too cool, and the boys were insistent on spending as much time in the sand as possible. After a picnic dinner on the beach, playtime in the sand, and a gorgeous sunset, we headed up to the reception to warm up a bit and wait for the bonfire to start. The DJ was spinning tunes, and we all got out on the dancefloor. The kids have my dancing prowess (which means they really don't have any and looked like they were having epileptic fits, but since they're kids, its perfectly acceptable), and Liam stayed on the dance floor until the DJ packed up. He made many new friends while dancing (the ladies loved him!), and it was pure joy watching him dance and have such fun. Jonah fell asleep despite the music about halfway through the tunes (I knew he was tired when he wanted me to hold him and dance), and he napped until the music was through and we were ready to go down to the bonfire. We roasted marshmallows on a roaring fire down at the beach, but it wasn't long before the boys were ready to go home. It was after midnight by the time we left, and after 1 by the time we all got to bed. Jonah's been asking daily since if we can go to the beach, so I'd say a good time was had by all. Sadly, I was so occupied with keeping track of the kidlets that I didn't take any pictures. Bad mommy.

The trip home was similar to the trip out, long and grueling, but we were also glad to get home. The eggs have hatched as I suspected before we left as the daddy suddenly showed up, and there are three little babies in the nest. I surprised them last night when I tried to take a picture, and they poked their little heads up and opened their mouths. They're still pretty featherless, but I'm sure they'll fluff up quickly.

I also realized that I never posted about how the Day out with Thomas went. The kids had a good time, Jonah probably more so than Liam. We hit a break in the weather just in time for our ride (I swear, I'm so tired of the rain), and the river was really moving along as we watched out the window. We really need to check into doing some of the other (less expensive and longer) valley rides. Mr. Conductor took pictures with all the willing children, and we got one with Thomas, too.

That's all for now. Got some straightening to get done, and since it's sunny outside, I really want to get out and enjoy the weather! I'll close with a "who shrinky dinked the daddy" picture.