Monday, May 28, 2012

The Robin's Nest - An Update

If you didn't catch my first post about the Robin's Nest in our backyard, you can check that out here.  Paul has started calling me the "Bird Lady" because I'm a bit obsessed with my little feathered friends but I'm finding this whole process quite interesting and I enjoy getting to witness it so up close.  Anyway, to pick up where we left off...

A week or so after all four eggs were laid, Daddy bird disappeared.  I don't know if that is common for Daddy birds or not but I found it a bit sad.  He had been bringing Mommy bird food while she sat on the eggs and it was the sweetest thing.  It looked like they were kissing.  But with Daddy bird gone, Mommy bird had to do all the work herself and I felt bad for her.   Around this time, I found one of the little blue eggs sitting inside the flower basket but outside of the nest.  It had a very small crack in it and I assumed that Mommy bird had pushed it out of the nest.  I wasn't sure why but guessed that Mommy bird either realized this bird wasn't going to make it or knew she couldn't care for four eggs on her own.

Mommy bird became even more protective of her nest around this time.  She didn't like us to go into the backyard at all and would dive bomb me anytime I peeked in the nest.  I can't say as though I blame her but like I said before it wasn't really a prime location for her to place her nest.

Also, my hanging basket of pansies doesn't look so good anymore.  Momma bird wasn't a fan of me watering the plant around her nest and so it's gotten pretty sad looking.

Oh, and in case you didn't catch the first post or forgot, Day 1 is the day Mommy bird starting building her nest....

Day 19 - May 16th

The first baby bird hatched!!  This was 14 days after the first egg was laid.  It looks as though he or she is trying to pull his baby brother or sister out.

A few hours later, baby bird #2 hatched!

Day 20 - May 17th

Baby bird #3 hatched

Day 22 - May 19th

Baby bird #3 went to bird heaven.  I think taking care of three baby birds was just too much for Mommy bird to do alone.  It didn't appear like she could keep up with the feeding and it was incredibly hot with no overhead protection.  We tried to put the patio umbrella over the nest to offer some shade but it scared Mommy bird and she wouldn't come towards the nest so I had to remove it.  With all that stacked against her, Mommy bird did what she had to do and only two baby birds were left.

Day 24 - May 21st

The baby birds eyes started to open and their feathers really started to come in.

Day 25 - May 22nd

Baby bird #2 was gone.  I have no idea what happened to it.  At this point, my heart couldn't take it so Alexa and I went to the pet store and bought some mealworms.   I wanted to do whatever I could to help Mommy bird out so at least one of her babies would make it.

Day 26 - May 23rd

I put a little tupperware lid inside the hanging basket but outside of the nest.  I would put some mealworms on the lid every few hours or so.

Mommy bird would come and pick the worms up and give them to baby.  It worked out quite nicely and I told myself that Mommy bird appreciated the effort even though she would still squawk and dive bomb me every time I went outside.

Day 29 - May 26th

Baby bird started getting big and not so ugly. 

Day 31 - May 28th

The day started off with baby bird becoming more adventurous.

Then he (or she) started to test out his (or her) wings

And then tonight when Paul went outside, baby bird got scared and flew right out of the nest.  It was really fun to see him (or her) wander around and explore our backyard.

So one month after Mommy bird made her nest in the hanging flower basket on our back patio, one baby bird survived and is out hopping around our backyard as cute as can be.  I've enjoyed this experience very much but it will be nice to be able to walk into my backyard without fearing for my life and I will encourage Mommy bird to make her next nest in a more appropriate location.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Good and Bad of Soccer According to Alexa

Alexa’s favorite things about Soccer
  • Picking the “daisy-lions” in the grass
  • That a lot of her family members (aka “my million people”) come to watch her
  • When her “million people” clap for her and tell her she’s doing a good job
  • When the coach lets her kick the ball in
  • That her last game was today and we're not signing her up again

What Alexa doesn’t like about soccer
  • That the other kids don’t take turns and won’t let her kick the ball all by herself
  • That she has to run around and chase other kids that "don’t share" for one hour a week
  • That she doesn’t get her own ball
  • That she is supposed to play with a bunch of kids she doesn’t know vs. playing with and getting attention from her “million people” who are sitting on the sideline
  • Everything else that has to do with the actual playing soccer part
In other words, soccer wasn’t a hit this year and I don’t think Alexa is sad at all that her season is done.   I’m pretty sure we’re going to try gymnastics, swimming or dance next time.   Hopefully that will go better because this super-competitive Mom who loved sports as a kid and always tried her best to win is having a hard time watching her daughter sitting in the middle of the field crying, “I don’t want to play soccer anymore.  I just want to go home.”  It's OK though because I will help Alexa find her niche - something she can be good at and enjoy at the same time.  Any suggestions on what activities three-year-old's should try?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Something New for Date Night

Paul and I try to go on one date night a month.  Usually we just end up going to a movie because that's easiest.  This month we (OK...I) decided to do something different.  I found a deal for Glass Blowing on Living Social and was excited to give it a try.  

The studio was located in a really old building in downtown.  It's a building that I've driven by many times but I had no idea there was an art studio/bead shop/glass blowing studio inside.  It was a quaint little place with a cute old dog that greets you when you walk in.   The studio was small and full of oxygen concentrators, propane tanks, and a few torches.  Our teacher gave us a brief history on glass, familiarized us with the equipment, and then let us jump in and give it a try right away.  I have to say I was a bit nervous as the only safety measure we used was this awesome eye protection.

I have never played in an open flame before and I couldn't believe we didn't have to sign a waiver or wear gloves or at least write down an emergency contact.  I also couldn't believe Paul let me play in a flame because let's face it - I'm a bit totally accident prone.  

The instructor made it look so easy, but it was so much harder than it appeared.

I am so glad we went though.  It was a nice change of pace from our typical movie and we made it home with some pretty cute "masterpieces".

Our Fish

Isn't he cute?

I also got to make a bead.  And even though I'd like to say I made this little cup, I didn't.  Our instructor demonstrated this technique for us and let us keep it.

All and all this date night was a lot of fun and as an added plus, we didn't even burn our fingers off!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Chocolate Chip Day

So I feel a little cheated that I never knew there was such a thing as National Chocolate Chip Day.  SERIOUSLY?  This is one of my new favorite days!  So, Alexa and I celebrated by making our favorite - Chocolate Chip Cookies (with some M&M's thrown in for good measure).

I've tried a lot of Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes over the years but the recipe from Crisco is our favorite.  Oh and this recipe is for a single batch but I almost always double it (and would recommend you do the same).


3/4 cup Crisco Butter Flavor Shortening
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 T milk
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1-1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat egg into mixture.  Combine dry ingredients and mix into creamed mixture just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips (and M&M's if you like).

Drop by large tablespoons onto un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake 9 minutes for chewy cookies (that's how we like them) or up to 11 or 12 minutes for crispy cookies.  Cool on a cookie sheet for a couple of minutes then remove to cool.

ENJOY!!  Alexa sure did.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Parker's Giggle

I sure do love this kid...and his giggle!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Robin's Nest, Day 1 - Day 8

If you’ve ever been in the market for a home you may have heard the top 3 rules to keep in mind when buying real estate: 




But, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in some of the other features of a home and forget about these three rules.  For Mr. and Mrs. Robin who live in our backyard, they decided to pick the location of their new home apparently on the “beauty factor” rather than picking an adequate location.

You see, they decided to build their nest right in the middle of my hanging pansy basket which arguably is a very pretty place for a nest.  However, this basket hangs about 6 feet from our backdoor and we are outside a lot.  It also has absolutely no overhead protection and when you live in Nebraska there is a lot of wind, rain, and even hail and some protection would be helpful.

So, although Alexa and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Mr. and Mrs. Robin build their nest from our back windows, I think they’ll pick a new location next time.  First, because I'm quite sure they are tired of squawking at us every time we walk outside and I’m afraid their nest (and Mrs. Robin’s head) are getting quite wet with all the rain we’ve had.  

Anyway, here’s a timeline of Mr. and Mrs. Robin’s nest building and egg laying.  You can go ahead and tell me I need to get a life if you want but when you are stuck at home with nothing better to do, why not document this process and have fun and teachable moments while doing so.  

Day 1 - April 28th, 2012

Mrs. Robin started building her nest

Day 2 - April 29th, 2012

Mrs. Robin was hard at work making the nest just right

She kept busy by bringing straw, sticks, and grass to the nest

It amazed me how much she could carry at once

She just kept on bringing more and more

Feeling proud of all her work

All while Mr. Robin stood watch from a distance

Good job, Mrs. Robin.  That is a lovely nest!

Day 3 & 4 - Nothing exciting took place

Day 5 - May 2nd, 2012

Mrs. Robin laying her first egg

First Egg!

Day 6 - May 3rd, 2012
Two Eggs!

Alexa taking a peek

Day 7 - May 4th 2012
3 Eggs

Day 8 - May 5th, 2012
4 Eggs!

Mrs. Robin stopped at 4 eggs and she's protecting them like it's nobody's business.  I don't even feel like I can step foot in my backyard right now.  So, we're hoping in a couple of weeks to see some baby birds in there as long as Mr. (or Mrs.) Squirrel stays out of the way.  He (or she) has been quite interested in these eggs!

For an updated post on the Robin's Nest, click here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Girl and Her Dog

19 years ago I fell in love.  It’s not the typical love story though.  I was 11 and I fell in love with this little black and orangish-brown puppy with white feet, floppy ears, a crooked tail and big eyes.   She looked like a mix between a dachshund, beagle, and pit bull.  She had a long body, was close to the ground and had short little stubby legs.  She was a little disproportioned it seemed.  Many thought she was rather ugly but not me.  I thought she was beyond adorable and I wanted to keep her forever. 

It was summer and I had been spending most of my time at the local county fair.  I usually did spend a great deal of time at the county fair when it was going on because my Dad was the County Extension Agent and he practically ran the thing.  I was showing my bunnies in the 4-H competitions and kept busy with other activities while I was there.  The carnival had been at the fair but had since packed up and left.  This little puppy had probably come to town with them but had been left behind. 

The little thing followed me as I walked home from the fair one day and I’m sure I didn’t put up too big of a fight to keep her from doing so.  She was obviously a bit malnourished as she was quite skinny and very hungry.  I gave her some food and she was instantly my best friend.  I introduced her to my Mother who was not thrilled.  She did not want a dog, especially an indoor dog.  I was told “NO” I could not keep her.  My parents said I could take care of her only until I found her a new home. Well, I did reluctantly try to do this but no one would agree to adopt her.  After a few days with her, there was no way my parents could refuse to let me keep her.  I was head over heels.  And that’s how Callie (because she resembled a Calico cat) joined our family. 

In my opinion, Callie has been the best dog ever.  She is small-ish in size but thinks she is big.  And she has a BIG personality to go along with it – especially when she was younger.  When we were kids, my brother would put on his rollerblades or jump on his skateboard and hold on to Callie’s leash and she would pull him around the neighborhood.  She loved adventures and would go on walks, runs, and try to catch birds or bunnies that came into our yard.  She was loyal and protected my brother and I no matter what - even if that meant going against a 100-pound dog that would come towards us when we were walking in the neighborhood.  She was a terrific snuggler and would always want to sleep in our beds.  She could do a few tricks like sit, roll over, and play dead but she was way too smart to agree to anything like “stay”. 

Callie is practically fearless in every way except when it comes to water.  She does not like swimming or getting wet which is a bit unfortunate because my parents live on a lake.   When my brother or I would get in the water, Callie would just stand on the dock and bark.  BARK, BARK, BARK.  She was scared for us – it’s like she thought we were going to drown and she was alerting everyone within hearing distance of our dangerous situation.   You’d think she would’ve gotten used to this since my parents have lived at the lake for years, but no.

With as afraid as she is of the water, you would never imagine that she would love boat rides as much as she does but they are one of her favorites.  When my Dad or brother starts the boat, Callie will take a running leap off the dock and fly through the air into the boat.  Occasionally, she misses and lands in the water which is funny for the rest of us but definitely not for her. 

It’s amazing how Callie will know when it is time to go for a walk.  Someone in our family can just casually mention it to someone else in my family and Callie understands.  Up until recently, she would start spinning in circles so fast and getting so excited that you would think she was going to have a heart attack.  It was hard to even get her leash on because she would go a million miles an hour.  At some point along the line, Callie discovered that if she wanted to go on a walk (even if we hadn’t discussed it or planned on it) she would just start getting excited and turning in circles.  Sure enough, most of the time it worked and she got to go on her walk.  She sure had us trained. 

When I moved out of the house after high school, Callie stayed at my parent’s house.  I would still go over to visit regularly because I was living and going to college in the same town.  We would go on walks, go to the park, or go on car rides with the window down so her tongue could fly in the wind and get slobber all over my car.  And it was completely worth it to see how happy all of this made her. 

When I got married and graduated college, Paul and I moved away to another state.  I was completely and utterly devastated to leave Callie so far away.  I was incredibly homesick and yes I did miss my family and friends but I also missed Callie – terribly.  I felt like I had abandoned her and I had an enormous amount of guilt and sadness.   I knew she was being well taken care of but it was just not the same. 

A few years later, Paul and I moved back home.  It was great to be back home with my family and Callie.  But soon I was having kids of my own and my life got crazy.  I didn’t get to visit Callie as often and before I knew it she had gotten pretty old.  She has had several tumors removed, has had a stroke, her vision and hearing have gotten really poor and she isn’t able to control her bodily functions too well.  But even with all of this, Callie still remembers me and loves me like she did when I was 11 and she was a puppy.

19 years later Callie is still the best dog in the world.  When I pet her head and rub her ears, she still gives me that doggy-smile and more wet kisses than I can handle.  She still loves going on walks even if she can’t make it very far.  She’s still incredibly sweet and loves to cuddle.  I realize her days are numbered but I’m thankful that I’ve had such a faithful companion for so long. 

I recently took a picture of Alexa with Callie and it reminded me so much of a picture of Callie and my brother John when he was young. How often do your children get to grow up with the same pet as you did?  I consider myself pretty lucky and I will forever be a “dog person” because of Callie.  I love her to pieces, her bent tail and all. 

Alexa and Callie 2012

John and Callie 1993

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Public Service Announcement

You Shouldn't Stand Up (or Bounce) on the Furniture