Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nature smiling at us.

Here he is. (I refer to the bird as he and I don't know why.) We were outside listening to his calls, when he started flying overhead. I saw him coming in for a landing, but never imagined that he would land on the telephone pole right across the street from our house. We were standing on the sidewalk and I had my camera in hand. Isn't he gorgeous? We were so thrilled to get a good look at our hawk friend. We just had to share. See you on Monday!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A great many things happened Thursday.

We generally start Thursday like a horse out of a gate. We hit the ground running. While my friend Kim was on the phone telling me the wonderful news that FORD HAS EMPLOYMENT!, I cleaned the bathroom. (Oh, much praising is going on. It was a long 6 months.) I had laundry in and was tossing it on the line in between. The beds were made, rooms swept and friends stopped by. K- and the boys played Star Wars, while Heather and I ran around looking at new kitchen paint colors, she saw the bookcase that started it all (because doesn't that always happen), took in the changes and was the encouraging friend that she always is. After Heather and her boys left, K- and I skipped off to the thrift store. (Most was for her, but the first two were for me.) Oh, just read what we got:

- A brand new A. I. Root Cinnamon Apple Candle. It would have been $23.95. I paid $2.50. Root is my absolute favorite brand of candles. They are locally made and even Hubs loves them! This will be a winter burner.
- A lightly used little brown leather bag. I've carried my Coach bag for probably 5 years. It is rubbing black on the left shoulder and between the brea*sts. My new little bag is smaller than the Coach, but I think that we can skip that pesky black mark crap that I'm getting. Since it is smaller, I have less in it. That is good, too. I still couldn't get away from hanging my keys on the outside of the bag with the purple carabiner, though. At least I'll know where the keys are, right?
- Two short sleeved polo shirts. One is yellow and one is a lighter weight Land's End. I paid 75 cents for each.
- A Gap Khaki jumper for 75 cents.
- A heavier weight Gap cardigan for $2.00. It is red and will be great for K- to wear this winter.
- A lighter weight white JCPenney cardigan that has great little dots and hearts in the weave for 75 cents. (Hey, it is completely white, so it should be legal for school wear.)
- A black pair of pants for 90 cents.
- A red button-down, long-sleeved shirt for a dollar. It'll look great under her khaki jumpers.

Keep in mind that I'm a thrift store snob. All of these things look like brand new. Oh, and I was able to use my $5.00 off $10.00 coupon. I'd say that 60% of what I got was 1/2 price anyhow. It would have been $22.00 + tax. In the end, I spent $9.54 total. Hooray!

After the thrift, we spun by the library. Then, we had a little more time before our date with Grandma and Aunt Donna, so we ran by Giant Eagle to pick up the Lipitor prescription (to counteract that cheese that I just ate.) We had a 4:00 PM date with Grandma and Aunt Donna, but Aunt Donna decided that she wanted pizza for dinner and invited us to stay. I introduced her to $5.00 Little Caesars and she was happy. While visiting, I did my monthly pitching of the old food at Grandma's. I found juice on the shelf that had expired in January. There was milk that had expired May 3. Grandma had some liquefying apples in a bag on the counter and oranges so soft that they felt Nerf in nature. I ditched those, the petrified cookies, hardened whoopie pies and explained to Grandma that though she hates to see me pitch things, I was certain that the milk was sprouting legs and was soon to walk out the door itself. Grandma is 91. She comes from a completely different camp of food keeping. My ditching and organization makes her nervous, but in the end, she admits that she's glad that I've done it.

After the pitchfest, I cruised by my parents to confirm to them that the neighbors really were picking up the mail (though they had left both the Sunday papers in the paper box at the street), picked a few things up for my brother that mom had and cruised over to his house. Of course, he wasn't home, but after the third call, I was able to have someone track him down. He told me how to break into his house (I wouldn't without permission), and I stocked the bagful of frozen food that Aunt Donna gave to me (my brother tends to run short, and I knew there were frozen chicken breasts and frozen dinners that they could really use) into his new-to-them side by side refrigerator. (Their other fridge was majorly ailing.) He was busy consoling my sister, as she had to put her 18 year old dog to sleep yesterday. Knowing this, I had a hunch that he wasn't going to be home. I'm glad that I got to break in and leave them things.

K- and I cruised home, decompressed for just a few before dragging her bike up from the basement and going up and down the street several times with the neighbors. K- played ball with E- as E-'s mommy and I caught up on the neighborhood goings-on of last night. A car had been broken into just across the street. Since we live in a very quiet neighborhood on a dead end street, the police went around, checked in on all of us to make certain that we weren't victimized, as well. It's sad. Truly. We have an incident like this happen once every three years or so. I don't think that is a bad track record considering.

Smiles in my day:
- Ford got a job. What an answer to prayer.
- I just ate the treat left for the Pick-Up Fairy. K- left a plate of Cheese-It's with a slice of Swiss broken up over top. It'll give me dragon breath, but it was a tasty snack.
- I got a photo of our hawk. It isn't a gorgeous photo, but it's a photo nonetheless. He was on a telephone pole on the next block over.

- Hubs got home an hour early tonight. He ended up finding out yesterday that the building needed covered, so he had to pull a 12 hour day. He is scheduled for a 12 hour day on Saturday, as well. He worked 1-9 on both Tuesday and Wednesday. It is a long, long week for him.
- The magical powers of the Pick-Up Fairy. Really. I wished I would have done this sooner!
- More organization to be done Friday.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We've been adopted.

By a Red Shouldered Hawk, that is. I woke this morning to the call of a bird. It continued from about 5:30 AM - 8:30 AM. When Hubs awoke, I told him that initially I thought it was a seagull, but he confirmed that it was a hawk. He said that often he will tell people that they sound like a seagull. The calls? Territorial in nature.

Our hawk swooped down this evening, giving me a lovely show of the under belly and perched in one of the trees in the yard just behind us. Does it live there? We don't quite know. It's pretty nifty if it does. It definitely lives close by.

Hawks are federally protected. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I was reading up on it and found this section to be particularly disturbing.

What Might be a Violation of the Act?

One example of a violation of the Act occurred in Arizona in the 1970s. A nesting pair of Common Black-Hawks (Buteogallus anthracinus) was found in an area frequented by birders. Overly enthusiastic individuals, in their attempts to observe and photograph the pair, caused the nest and its contents to be abandoned. Although no one was charged in this incident, the collective actions of the birders resulted in the "taking" of migratory birds because the eggs were "killed" as a result of the parent birds' absence.

There are a number of incidents involving rails, birders, and violations of the Act. several examples of Black Rails (Laterallus jamaicensis) being pursued, captured, and photographed in the hand exist for the eastern and western seaboards of the U.S. In the mid-1970s, a group of Wisconsin birders chased a Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) around a sandy area in Milwaukee harbor. Eventually, the exhausted rail was stepped on by an overly enthusiastic human. The "take" provision of the Act was violated by the attempted capture and killing of the bird.

A practice used by some birders to view hole-nesting birds is to repeatedly hit the side of a nest tree, causing the adult birds to leave the hole. This activity can be considered "taking" if the bird is intentionally chased from its nest and the inadvertent death of young birds or abandonment of eggs occurs.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas hosted a Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) and a Yellow-faced Grassquit (Tiaris olivacea) from late January to early February 1990. Excessive pressure by birders caused refuge personnel to cordon off an area of the refuge frequented by the grassquit to ensure some protection of both the vegetation and the grassquit. Despite the site's being prominently fenced, numerous birders crossed over the cordon, trampling and destroying vegetation. Their behavior may have ultimately caused the birds (both the warbler and grassquit) to depart the area. Although no violation of the Act occurred, these activities took place on a National Wildlife Refuge in violation of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee; 80 Stat.927) (hereafter, the "Refuge Administration Act").

Although the Act does not specifically prohibit harassment to view birds, it is a different matter with the ESA. The ESA specifically prohibits people from harassing endangered or threatened species. In general, intentional or negligent actions that cause an endangered or threatened species to significantly change its normal behavior patterns (e.g., nesting, feeding, shelter) to the extent that the likelihood of injury to the animal may occur can be considered harassment under the ESA (50 CFR 17.3).

I mean really, do people have to beat on trees, run after birds (and step on them) and to ignore postings to keep out of protected areas just to get a photo?

We'll happily keep our early morning calling Red Shouldered Hawk. We like having him around. We'll be thrilled to watch him from a distance. We're thrilled to have our neighborhood claimed by him!

Smiles in my day:
- K- believing in the Pick-Up Fairy and leaving small gifts for her. (Adopted from this months Parents magazine, if I remember right.) The Pick-Up Fairy, to those who don't know, is a fairy that shows up after children are sleeping to confiscate toys that have been left about and keeps them for a week. She keeps wanting to leave a snack for the Pick-Up Fairy, but I told her that I called and checked to see when her snack night is. I told her it is Thursday. The child is planning a buffet fit for a king for the Pick-Up Fairy! And yes, all of her toys have been tidied and her room is spotless. HOORAY!
- A less annoying customer day.
- Julia was on an up-yo day. Yesterday was a down-yo day. A very down-yo day. (Her mom died a month ago.) She's having a time of it, but I was glad to see her smile today.
- My father-in-law was pleased with the repair job that Hubs did on their cupboard door that I broke Tuesday. Long story short, K- lacks in "listening to her fill-line" and Tuesday evening ended in her emptying the contents of her stomach onto the concrete outside of their garage and all over their bathroom floor. I grabbed a container out of the kitchen cupboard and smacked the door as I was running. I cracked a portion of the door, but now it is all fixed and re-hung. Thanks, Hubs!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Reading Readiness Summer Program

I've mentioned that we enrolled K- in a parent/child Reading Readiness program at the local university. The program that we enrolled in is through the Institute of Reading Development, which offers classes all over the US. Their classes are set up on "stepping stones" and K- is at the beginners level. Her class description is:

"Your child will develop alphabet skills, the ability to distinguish sounds in spoken words, beginning phonics and a love of reading. We provide you with guidance for reading aloud to your child."

Obviously, the reading aloud to K- I had down, but they give phonemic awareness games to use with your child. Believe me, K- doesn't realize that she is learning. She is just happy and having fun.

Ideas that are taught to us in class are the following:

- Dramatization. In class, we've enacted scenes from Eric Carle's A House for Hermit Crab, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear story about going to the moon.
- Art Projects. This week, we were to create an art project with our child about Little Bear's trip to the moon. It was an open project, but I chose to have K- go through magazines and cut out pictures of things that she thought would be on her moon. What did she cut out? Bouncy balls in a gum ball machine to "Throw at Darth Vader." She cut out lipstick to "make her moon pretty," a silver tower for an Apple computer because it is a "Cheese Grater," "Popcorn for me, Diet Coke for Mommy and a pretty dress for Mommy." "Movies." "Toys." "A pretty lady and a pretty lady with milk." "Drinks and nice treats for everyone to eat." "[Wrinkle] Cream to make our skin pretty." "Chocolate." (It was dark, have I not taught her well or what?!)
- Riddles. For the letter "m," we would say, "I am something that is on your face. You use me to eat things. I begin with the sound /m/. What am I?"
- Sound catching. We play this all the time. Say a list of basic words. If the word starts with the sound that you are working on, have your child clap their hands, stomp their foot, wave their arm or something. Throw a word in every now and then that doesn't match your sound.
- Bingo. We did this one in class this week. The teacher had the adults write their child's first, middle and last names in capital letters on a piece of paper. She showed letters to the class and the children were NOT to announce the letter. Rather, they were to quietly tell their parent and to circle that letter in their name (if they had that letter.)
- Letter finding. We do this one a lot, too. Write a list of words with your letter in a variety of places in the word. "Is the letter "--" in the first, second, third or forth position?"
- Action letters. Help your child to physically create letters with your bodies. K- and I made a K- in class. It was hard to tell, but if I leaned back any further, I would have fallen on my behind!
- Nursery rhymes. Reciting to your child. Repeat and have your child fill in the blanks.
- Rhyming. Just the general rhyming with basic words.
- Critter feeding. Draw yourself a critter with a big wide mouth. "I want to feed - - -. My letter is - - - . " Feed your critter with pictures of food that start with your letter.

I gave K- and her friend, E-, a snack one Saturday. I decided to try to trick the girls and tell them that I had a snack for them. My snack was cheese doodles and cherries. What letter does your snack start with? In unison I heard, "C!" :) K- has been sounding words out with help. Hooray!

Like I said before, I know that we've seen some of our nieces and nephews struggle. I had no idea of what to do to help K- to have fun with reading. This class has worked well for us. For anyone contemplating it, we give it a thumbs up!
Smiles in my day:
- The shelf pegs from IKEA were in my mailbox.
- I celebrated Laurie's birthday with her today. I made brownies and everyone liked them.
- K- has this bed making thing licked. She makes it better than Hubs!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My mind is empty.

Or at least it feels as if it is. Not feeling very Tales-y today. Let's just cut to the good stuff, yes?

Smiles in my day:
- Hubs and K- had a wonderful day at Mentor Headlands. They built sand castles, dipped their toes into Lake Erie, climbed the rocks to the lighthouse and called to let me hear the waves crashing in.
- It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. 75 F and not humid! I opened the windows this morning and Hubs was disappointed. (I think he would leave the air on all the time.) The temperature is wonderful!
- Digestively, I appear to have been healed. [Hands raised.] Mentally noted. 1/2 head of cabbage in 24 hours is too much. We'll feed the rest to Spike.
- There is a puffball (probably Cottonwood) floating by the window. Though Hubs is allergic, it certainly does look dreamy as it drifts along in the wind.
- Cheap school supply sales have started. (1 cent pencils at Staples through Wednesday.) Grant you, I don't drive out of my way for them, but if I am very near the store, I'll go and get them. I'll go ahead and admit it now. New school supplies are like a dru*g to me. The smell of a new box of crayons is so intoxicating. I get all giddy at the thought! (I have a school supply drawer downstairs in our basement that I supply basic school supplies to my nieces and nephew with. I have enough liquid glue and glue sticks for all of them for years!) Maybe that is why I was an art major in college!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Weekend of Many Things

We had much to do this weekend. K- and I went to our Dragonfly/Damselfly program on Friday morning. On the way back, we cruised past Kohl's to purchase some school uniform pieces. We had $30.00 remaining in consignment store cash and a 15% coupon. Between the sale that they had and the previous two monetary helpers, we got $82.00 worth of school uniform clothing for her for $11.00. I don't think that was a bad exchange!

On our way from Kohl's, we dropped by the grocery and made it home in time for our friends to show up for their play date. It was a warm day, slated to be 90 F, so I filled our little pool up before we left so it could heat up during the day. We were celebrating E-'s birthday, so we had root beer floats for everyone.

Saturday was a crazy day. We had Aunt Arlene's memorial service an hour away and K-'s last reading class at the same time. My friend, Kim, took K- and let her hang out with them for the day while we went. We really had a nice time. Quite a tribute to a wonderful woman. I learned so many things about Aunt Arlene that I didn't know.
- She was a seamstress for Richmond Bros.
- She had a cake baking business from the early 1970's - 1991.
- She worked two jobs at one time. One job was at Richmond Bros. and another was at a drugstore.
- Uncle Gene was called off to the Korean war when they were newly married. He was gone for 3 years.
- They had the first new car on the street. They bought a Ford.
- They had the first TV on the street. Hubs' dad talked of how he would go to Aunt Arlene's apartment (just above their place) and watch TV when she wasn't home.
- She had quite a collection of hankies, which her daughter Jackie was busy handing out prior to the service.
- She kept a calendar of all birthdays and special people that she had to contact. I told Bob, her son-in-law, of how Aunt Arlene used to call me several times a week when I was home by myself after my hospital stay with Bailey. None of them knew it. Not even Hubs' mom and dad. She would call to check in. We'd talk some days. I'd cry my eyes out others.
- She entered a bathing suit contest at Euclid Beach and placed in the top ten.
- She took belly dancing with her friends! :)
Oh how we'll miss Aunt Arlene. She truly was a one of a kind lady. To tell you that she did everything with all of her heart is not exaggerating. If I can be only 1/2 the woman that Aunt Arlene was, I would be happy. Don't worry, I'm striving to be all that she was.

Saturday evening was a little long for me. Know that a lesson was learned that perhaps eating 1/2 a head of cabbage (I made cabbage and noodles) and chasing that with 1/3 of a jar of Corn and Black Bean salsa results in intestinal devastation. Apparently, my stomach was churning so loudly that it was keeping Hubs awake. I returned from my middle of the night bathroom stay only to find the bed vacated. Hubs couldn't take it!

Given my continued intestinal burbling, we opted to stay at home today, rather than have a long family day out. I told K- that she couldn't play with E- until she had all of her toys taken out of my vehicle. She filled a paper grocery sack, a reusable grocery sack and a collapsible canvas picnic basket full of toys. That's not counting the American Girl wardrobe box that was out there, too. The next portion of her task was to actually put the items away in their proper creature homes. (Yes, that is what we call it.) She did the hoof and haul. Hubs told her that if she worked hard, he would help her. When he came out, he checked with me to make certain that she was holding up on her end of the bargain. They tackled the basement play area together. I tackled her bedroom. Though I didn't think to do before photos, I'll give you after. Keep in mind, her bedroom is all of 10' x 10'. I moved the two shelves with all the dolls up as far as they could go and added the lower shelf. All those books were on the corner of her desk, which ended up just crowding the desktop up and making it a convenient place to dump. I changed her hairbows over to a larger board. By the way, K- has been making her own bed and she is doing a rockin' job, I believe! Here is her desk. Previously, we were under the suspicion that there was a desk top there. Look! I found it. Getting the books off there (they were where her learning kit carry all is now) has made such a huge improvement. If you look through the doorway, you'll see I have more laundry to put away. That was another job I tackled today. And yes, I realize that we need to clear out the bulletin board. Rome wasn't built in a day. But hey! I figured that I would show you the nifty thing that hangs above her bulletin board. I used to have it sitting on the desk, leaned against the wall. Hubs' co-worker from his other park job brought this back for him from Costa Rica. It is all handstitched and needed stretched. I handled that several years ago and have had it hanging in K-'s room ever since. A crooked picture, I realize, but this is her dresser/armoire. K- calls the armoire part her "panty closet." This wasn't bad. It just needed dusting in a severe way. The other corner. Why not show you all the corners of her very petite room? And now it is all organized! Hooray! Hubs rewarded K-'s hard work today with the Slip and Slide. She loves that thing!

Smiles in my day:
- Going on a hike with my people. We found Touch Me Not pods to pop. We walked through the herb garden. We listened to a Bard Owl call several times. It was at 7:30 PM, so that was much earlier than what we would have expected. Hubs even tried to call back. We did hear Hubs' favorite bird, the Wood Thrush.
- Getting one more room tackled.
- Learning lots about Aunt Arlene.
- A good sermon today on prayer.
- Laundry on the line.
- A decluttered truck. Thanks, K-!
- A beautiful day in the neighborhood.