This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings

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#NaBloPoMo experiment FAIL! And other December reflections.

Yeah, I tried the post-a-day project for November pushed by BlogHer called NaBloPoMo. I tried, I really did. I failed. Spectacularly, I think. And as any good scientist will tell you, a failed experiment is still very valuable. I leaned some important things. First, I have NO BUSINESS trying to write a post every day. It’s obnoxious to me, to my family, to my readers (those who stayed), and just generally silly. I just don’t have that much interesting to say and that’s okay. It was never the intent of this blog to document in excruciating detail the operation that is running this house and raising this family and trying to record SOMETHING every single day just makes the things I do post feel forced, or boring, or whatever. I mean this blog to record our lives as my kids grow up, that’s true, but no more than any generation before the blog, I don’t have to remember everything, and it’s okay for some days to just pass in anonymous blurs. If I try the experiment again (and at the moment it’s not looking likely), I’d choose some kind of theme and just stick to that. Post a description of a single moment of each day, or one thing I’m thankful for each day (though, I have issues with that I wrote about here), or a genealogy tidbit, or maybe just a fashion question each day. Anyway, the open “write something” thing just didn’t work for me.

Second, I learned that a few folks WILL check in everyday if I write everyday. Not a huge following, but a few folks will read whatever I write and I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

And lastly, I need to let things brew a while before I try to write about them. With the possible exception of the lists of things I want my children to learn and not learn from me, and maybe the Thanksgiving Eve poem, I don’t think I wrote anything of much value during the challenge. I’m not saying that lots of my posts before the challenge were super excellent, but I’m at least a little proud of some of them. Not so much during the challenge. As one regular reader told me recently, I’m never gonna win a Pulitzer, but still, it should be at least a little interesting.

Moving on from the NaBloPoMo, IT’S THE HOLIDAYS! December slipped up on me in the same way it does every year. Suddenly, it was Thanksgiving and BAM! time to put up the tree, shop, bake, decorate, fill up the calendar, blah, blah, blah. And then I blinked and December was sliding by in a hurry and it feels like I’ve been getting ready for the holidays for weeks on end and they’re almost over. I suppose part of it is because of the tree.

Ah, the tree. Maybe you remember when I wrote a completely self indulgent, lengthy but loving, post about MY Christmas tree last year. My tree means a lot to me. I invest a lot of emotional energy in that tree each year. I attach a lot, maybe too much, emotion and Christmas spirit to my tree. In short, I REALLY love my tree.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.21.29.jpg.jpegWe put our tree up as usual this year, purchasing it on the first Saturday in December, which was a little late this year, December 7th. We declined the vendor’s offer to put a fresh cut on the trunk, took it home and cut six inches off the bottom to make it just the right height. The tree seemed unstable when we got it in the usual stand, so thinking that the 15 year old stand had just seen better days, we used another stand we happened to have on hand. There was a weird trunk split about a third of the way down that caused the center of gravity to be slightly off, but carefully secured in the stand, everything seemed normal and stable. Off I went on my annual light extravaganza! I strung some SIXTEEN strands of light on that sucker, including an addition this year of three strands of C4 sized LED Phillips Warm White 60 count lights. I can’t afford to make the switch to LED in one leap, but I think the colors have come a long way and I thought I’d add some depth to the tree by adding some of the larger lights. It was magical. The camera doesn’t really capture the complete beauty, but it was as pretty a tree as I’d ever had. Once again, I felt like I’d captured some magic for my family and put it on display in the living room.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.27.03.jpg.jpegWe went on with the month of December and all it’s craziness. The second week of December is the last week of preschool, including the funny, silly program of preschoolers singing the same funny songs in all their sweet, frilly glory. There really isn’t anything cuter, unless it’s the one who doesn’t want to sing rubbing his belly. Sorry I didn’t get a better picture.

I worked my butt off on Friday to FINALLY get all the decorating remnants cleaned up and everything dusted and vacuumed and ready for company and parties over the weekend. I was thrilled to have gotten it all done on Friday evening, including haircuts for everyone! Saturday came and we packed the kids off to the grandparents and headed off to not one, but TWO parties with friends, and then even had dinner together with completely adult conversation before making it home for a decent bedtime on Saturday night.

We came home to a dark house and since we didn’t plan to stay up, we didn’t light the tree, or even wander through the front room on the way up to bed. The husband was snoring pretty quickly, but I wanted just one more cookie (that will teach me) so I wandered downstairs and just happened to glance into the dark living room on my way up the stairs.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.41.40.jpg.jpegwpid-20141214_151118.jpgThat’s when my heart sank. There it was, like a big fat dead body in on the living room carpet. My beautiful, wonderful, much loved tree had just dropped while we were out. Fell, fainted, collapsed, prostrated itself, DOWN! I woke the husband, who calls me hysterical when he tells the story. I maintain that I was simply upset, but I can see how it might have LOOKED like I was hysterical. There was glass EVERYWHERE. I was certain that every ornament I’d held dear was broken, that they were all gone. As it turned out there were only a few precious ones lost, most of the broken ornaments were just cheap glass ones I’d picked up over the years to fill it up. The wedding gift egg was the most precious and I might be able to glue it. Still, a sad loss.

But we have to go on, right? Christmas is still coming! When I stopped crying and got a good night’s sleep, we examined the tree and decided it was not salvageable. It was completely dried out. I thought I’d kept it watered enough, but the water had been low, so maybe I didn’t add enough. Maybe it had just been cut too long ago. Whatever the cause, the needles were dropping like it was mid-January and I couldn’t see rehanging my most loved ornaments on this traitor tree. I also couldn’t see buying a new real tree, unstringing the stupid amount of lights I like, and restringing them on the new one. The final solution was to get that awful, evil tree out of my house, and borrow an extra little tabletop model that Mom and Dad had in the basement. It isn’t ideal, but it works. I rode a roller coaster of emotions as I took out the old tree, but I could feel my Christmas spirit rebuilding as I decorated this little dear tree. In years to come, I’m sure my children will remember the “Year of The Tiny Tree” and I hope it’s a happy memory, though it will always be bittersweet to me.

So, the upshot of the whole story is that I have been getting READY for Christmas forever. And now it feels like BAM, it’s almost over. It isn’t, but I know how fast these next two weeks will fly by. We will have “Christmas” with two different sections of the family this weekend and a dinner for a nephew graduating from college (Congrats, Alec!). Plus a bonus piano recital! And then the kids will be out of school next week. Thankfully, their father is off all week between Christmas and New Year’s this year. I look forward to some quite family time, though we’ll probably spend most of it cleaning out the basement and preparing to have friends over for New Year’s Eve.

Through all, I just want to remember that life is so good, I am so blessed.




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Another weekend…

Daddy Bird took Middle Bird on a scout overnight tonight.  They’ve been gone since 9:30 this morning and won’t be back until tomorrow afternoon.  I hope they had a blast.  We spent the day running Girlie to her various activities.  I do not have over scheduled kids.  I am not interested in over scheduling my kids because I don’t think it’s good for them but also because I have no interest in being chauffeur to over scheduled kids.  But right now, Girlie Bird is doing more extra curricular activities than ever before.  She’s a Brownie (though, thankfully, I will no longer be her leader when they bridge to Juniors on Monday!), she’s taking piano, acting lessons, and she is starting her second year of softball.  That’s a lot for us.  Middle Bird is a Cub Scout, and he’ll be playing baseball this summer, too.  It’s a little daunting to look at the calendar, but that’s okay.  We’ll be okay.  But today, Girlie should have had softball clinic at 10:00, had I not forgotten about it only to remember in time to swing by and apologize for not remembering.  Then we headed to Target to pick up a birthday gift.  On to acting class downtown at the Columbus Children’s Theatre.  After acting, back home for a bite to eat, then on to the birthday party.  At least they fed her dinner there!

Baby Bird and I blew those two hours of acting class checking out the new Whole Foods store.  Funny, you can’t get a juice box in that place with your sandwich.  As I mentioned on Facebook, if you want to get dirty looks, speak just a little too loudly and say, “Let’s just go, baby. McDonald’s has juice boxes” in Whole Foods.  You would have thought I’d whipped out some pesticides and started spraying them on the organic olive bar.  It was madness.  They had every kind of flavored bottled green tea you can imagine, but apple juice in a container suitable for a preschooler?  Even organic apple juice in something with a straw?  Nope.  Silly me.  Guess I should have been lugging around my own BPA free bottle to dump some kind of organic juice into?  I don’t know, but it was laughable.  We DID drive to McDonald’s and the juice box was only a dollar.

So, now I’m home and it’s such a pleasant evening.  The little guy is in bed, and the Girl will be shortly.  I should scurry around and try to catch up on housework, but I’m not gonna.  I’m going to do something I haven’t done in AGES!  I’m going to iron my clothes for church tomorrow, take a shower, and THEN, then I’m going to curl up with a BOOK!  And read until I fall asleep.  Yes.  A book.  A real, paperback.  Shocking, I know.

Goodnight, gentle readers.




close-up-nourriture- baconThat got your attention, didn’t it?

Oh, yes, I love bacon.  I REALLY love bacon.  I’m not sure I trust someone who doesn’t love bacon (religious observance exemptions, of course).  But bacon, as much as I love it, is not worth the points.  It takes several pieces to make me happy once I start eating it, and I don’t want to blow six WW points on bacon.  PLUS, I really like it sort of under cooked and not too crisp.  Mmmm, but that’s even more fat and points, so I must say no.  But the family still loves bacon.  Nothing makes my family happier on a Saturday morning than when I cook up a whole pound of the stuff and serve them eggs and/or pancakes with it.  So, I can EAT bacon with my family, or I can cook it and NOT eat bacon with my family, or I can not BUY the bacon and no one eats it.  Today, I made the bacon and did NOT eat it.  I’m so excited, and nearly high on this accomplishment.  I enjoyed the smell, and the smiles, but I did not eat any.  And it’s best that way, because one bite leads to one strip, to two, to three, you get the idea.  And don’t worry, the four of them did not polish off an entire pound of bacon.  There are several pieces left to put on Daddy Bird’s bagel sandwiches in his lunches this week.

Now to figure out how I’m going to skip all food until I meet with my girlfriends tonight to have wine and cheese.  More things I love that aren’t always worth the points, but tonight, I will splurge.  Okay, okay, I’ll eat some veggies at lunchtime!

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Sunday Round Up

I have a lot to talk about, but don’t expect insightful.

Yesterday we took Girlie Bird to Michigan to see Daddy Bird’s Grandma.  Grandpa passed away last Labor Day, and Grandma is alone in the assisted living facility now.  She has fairly advanced Alzheimer’s.  We hadn’t seen her since Grandpa’s funeral, and since they will be moving her to a nursing home on Tuesday, we thought we had better make the adjustments to our schedule necessary to make the trip this weekend.  Because of her Alzheimer’s, I don’t really expect her to fully adjust to her new living situation.  I thought if we had any hope of her knowing just who we were, we should make the trip before the move.  So, we did.  We couldn’t imagine taking all three kids into the tiny assisted living apartment, so we just took the oldest, and left the other two at my mother-in-law’s, which is on the way.DSC_0025

It was a lovely and difficult visit.  She looked wonderful, and is obviously getting really good care from the nurse they have taking care of her most days.  She is alone at night, though, and often calls her sons in the wee hours of the morning asking about her husband.  Each time they have to break the news to her that he’s gone and isn’t coming back.  It’s heartbreaking for everyone.  She asked a few times while we were there, but it wasn’t like being told the first time during the day.  It was more like she just needed reminding and her reaction was more like, “Oh, yes, I thought I knew that.”  Still difficult for everyone.  Still, she knew my husband, and I think mostly knew me.  She knew my daughter was ours, though she asked a dozen times how old she was.  And over and over would say, “Now, you have two boys, too, right?  How old are they?”  I’ll take it.  She remembered how we all fit into her life and that she loved us.  I suppose she won’t always.

On to other topics?  Sure.

So, with all the driving yesterday, I didn’t do great with eating, but it’s okay.  First, you do need a day of not worrying from time to time.  Second, I was good enough through the week that I’d saved most of my “weekly PointsPlus” points, so I just snagged those.  And I didn’t go hog wild.  I had spaghetti and meatballs at my mother-in-law’s.  I resisted the Snickers minis my father-in-law passed out.  I only ate 2/3 of my chicken sandwich from McDonald’s, but then I did eat a cheeseburger that was for Baby Bird.  He fell asleep.  All of the McD’s stuff was awful, even though it was from our favorite one in Upper Sandusky.  Ugh.  Seems like maybe they don’t have their first stringers in on Saturday night.  But I did log it all, and as honestly as I could.  That feels like a victory.  This morning when I weighed myself (yes, I do it nearly every day and no, I don’t want a lecture about it), I was exactly the same as yesterday.  That feels like a victory, too.

SPRING!  That’s right, it’s finally here.  The windows are open, it’s in the 60s.  I can breathe!  Glorious.  It will probably rain later, but we’ll take what we can get!

I’ll be back later to tell you about today’s kitchen experiment.  Ice cream without the cream.  Yum.

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Holy Saturday

Here we are in that limbo of holidays.  Last night was Good Friday, and we wore black to church.  We heard the crucifixion story again and we mourned.  Tomorrow will be Easter and we’ll rejoice with the greatest news ever.  Today, eh.  We should still be in Good Friday mode, I suppose, but that’s not the way it works in our real lives, is it?  We dye eggs.  Or, in my case, devil them.  We iron our Easter outfits.  We watch basketball.  (Go Bucks)  Some years we’ve gone to church for Easter Vigil, Baby Bird was baptized three years ago at that service.  But it’s so poorly attended, I don’t think our church is even holding that service this year.  So, as Daddy Bird is a “recovering Catholic” we call it Holy Saturday, but we don’t observe much.  Or maybe we do.

522229_10150758601519748_1008239585_nMost of what we do today will be in preparation of Easter.  I will iron everyone’s outfit for tomorrow.  I will pick up Middle Bird’s pants at the cleaners where they were hemmed.  I will make deviled eggs, and cheesy potato casserole, and banana pudding.  I will run to the store for a few more treats for the baskets.  I will make everyone bathe, even if they took a bath last night.  I will call Mom and make sure there’s nothing else I’m supposed to bring tomorrow for the big family gathering.

We have an advantage that the disciples did not have.  Jesus told them what would happen, but nothing in their experience had prepared them to really believe it.  We have celebrated Easter for our whole lives, most of us, or at least heard the story.  We KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, that on the third day after that dark, morbid, almost spooky Good Friday service, there will be a lily laden, bright and cheerful, trumpet and bell filled Easter morning service.  While there are almost never many children in church on Friday evening, except a few unnerved and unsettled and spooked into being quiet for the relatively short service, on Easter morning, the church will be filled with skipping, giggling, pastel clad kids.  We joke about the Easter and Christmas Christians, but it’s not that so many only come those two times, it’s that even the ones who are not there three out of four Sundays come on Easter morning!  Families who had soccer schedules to work around, or jobs, or heavy schoolwork loads, they’re all there in Easter morning!  And we KNOW we’ll see that tomorrow.

We can manage some morbidity and solemness on Good Friday for an hour or so.  We can pray and contemplate our part in the story of the crucifixion.  We can attempt to imagine the fear and mortification of the followers of Jesus, but only for a little while.  We can never really forget that the story has the happiest of endings.  We know how it turns out.  We can only sustain that level of solemnity for a short while before we remember that it’s okay, it all turns out well, there’s a happy ending!

Today we will continue to refrain from shouts of Alleluia.  But tomorrow?  Tomorrow I will wake each of my children with a cheerful, “Good Morning!  He is RISEN!”  And they will respond with “He is RISEN, indeed!  Alleluia!”  Well, the little one will probably need prompted, but the big ones will remember!  And we’ll spend the morning with our fellow believers greeting each other that way.  We’ll sing the Hallelujah Chorus.  We’ll sing “Christ is Risen, Alleluia.”  We’ll hear trumpets, and bells, and we’ll try to wrap our heads around the far fetched story that a man who was dead is not dead.  But we know it’s coming and that makes today anything but solemn.

So, if I don’t get around to posting tomorrow, it’s okay if I go ahead and say to you now… “HE IS RISEN!  ALLELUIA!”


Ahhh, Sweet Saturday

No alarm clocks.  That’s my favorite thing about Saturday.  Before kids I called it sleeping in, but now I’m just glad I don’t have to wake up to NPR’s early morning news.  The big kids don’t need anything when they first wake up anymore, so you can send them to the basement to play video games.  The little guy usually sleeps later and when he does wake up on Saturdays, he calls for Daddy to do Bag of Joe.

Bag of Joe is the silliest ritual in the world, but what toddler doesn’t love being wrapped in a blanket an swung around the living room while Daddy sings, “I’ve got a bag of Joe, you’ve got a bag a Joe, everybody’s got a bag of Joe this mooooorning!”  It’s modeled on the older ritual known around here as “Sack of Sam” but Sam is way to big to be lifted by the corners of a blanket now.

The most wonderful coffee maker ever.

The most wonderful coffee maker ever.

I always set up the coffee maker the night before. When we finally replaced the old one, which had been a bridal shower gift in 2001, I insisted we get the “grind n’ brew” deal.”  Chad insisted it be programmable, and I’m that much of a coffee snob.  If it’s going to sit in there all night, beans ground right before it brews will be fresher, right?  It makes delicious coffee and though I hate cleaning the grinder out every evening, I’m oh so thankful every morning when the thing goes off (sounding like a jet engine, by the way) and I have coffee waiting for me when I get downstairs.

But Saturdays I just set it up and don’t hit the Program button.  I mean, you just never know what time one of us will get downstairs and be ready for coffee.  It’s set for 6:30 AM since that’s what time it needs to go off on weekdays, but if one of us is up at that time on Saturday, something has gone wrong.  It happens, but let’s not plan on that, okay?

I will miss toddler footed jammies when he gives them up.

I will miss toddler footed jammies when he gives them up.

So, Saturdays are for staying in pajamas and slippers.  At least for the kids.  For me, when I finally get out of bed (at the decadent hour of 8:00 AM, mind you!), my extravagance is to go down and grab coffee, throw granola bars at the hungry kids, and then go back upstairs and take a shower.  With the radio on.  Loud enough to hear over the running water.  I don’t hurry, either.  I get to let the conditioner sit on my hair.  I get to shave, well, whatever I feel like shaving, not just rush over the ankles.  I get to lather up with lotion, not just hit the elbows and kneecaps.  No one is in bed making me be quiet.  No one is left alone and unsupervised making me hurry and worry.  No one is waiting for me to pick them up or drive them somewhere.  Even the sound of the phone ringing does not make me hurry along.  It is bliss, really.  I don’t bother with doing my hair or putting on make-up.  It’s Saturday, after all.

And then I come out and find that my sweet husband who has just cleaned the kitchen (making the shower water temp fluctuate, but I’m not going to let that ruin anything) is still not familiar enough with the room to actually find where I’ve hidden all the food.  “I’ve got to eat something.  Will you make me something?”

Break time’s over.  🙂


Friday Night Excitement

I really hate being behind in my homework, but I hate being behind on my social interactions, too.  And Facebook is great, but let’s face it, sometimes you need more than shared amusement over cat pictures and pictures with funny sayings about wine.  Sometimes a girl needs honest to goodness girl time.  Maybe a shared bottle of actual wine, too.  

So, here it is Friday night, and I was supposed to have a couple girlfriends come help me drink one of the big bottles, and chat, and generally get caught up.  One is my oldest friend in Ohio and introduced me to the Daddy BIrd, the other is a new friend I’ve only had maybe three real, in-person conversations with, but click well with and look forward to sharing lots of wine and chat.  But the new friend is sick and the old friend and I agree it’s better that I spend my evening on homework.  So, I will.  And maybe some laundry because that just makes more sense.  

Tomorrow I will be glad I spent the evening tackling my homework.  Tomorrow I will be glad the laundry is not behind.  Tomorrow I might even get around to cleaning those toilets and then that will be done for another month.  (Just kidding.  I really do clean them more often than that.  Honest.)  But tonight, I’m just bummed.  

The kids have eaten their cheap pizza, and loved it.  They’ll go to bed without showers because tomorrow is Saturday and everyone gets a bath on Saturday night.  They will sleep late in the morning, or have sense enough to be quiet so they can eat pop-tarts and frosted flakes for breakfast.  

Life is still good.  Really good.  But I do need some girlfriend time!