Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Now There Are Two

Last week we finally spotted the ducklings. There were two sets - one of five and one of six.

Today, after dropping my kids off at school, I spotted one of the mother ducks. She only had two ducklings swimming with her.

I know that the life of a duckling is rather fragile. There are muskrats down by the creek, that probably consider a duckling a fine dinner treat. Perhaps, the other ducklings had just gotten momentarily separated from their mother and so I didn't see them. But, honestly, usually when you see the mother duck the babies are pretty close at hand.

Not that long ago in this country - and even today in many parts of the world - childhood was a time fraught with danger. It wasn't at all unusual for a woman to have 10 children but to only see two or three of them grow to adulthood.

Today we (at least in most parts of the modern world) are pretty lucky. When we have a child we can expect to see that child grow up. Naturally sometimes horrible things happen and that isn't the case - but the point is that those are more aberrations than the norm - and we really do plan to be able to see our children graduate school - where once mothers wondered if the child would celebrate a sixth birthday.

The mother duck had five or six ducklings. Now she has two. My heart breaks for her. But maybe ducks understand how fleeting their existence is and she's happy to still have those two.

Can we remember to be happy about what we have, and not worry about what we no longer have? Sometimes.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

They Got One!

The fish in question was about five inches long, and it has been released back into the wild.

Apparently catfish are big fans of hot dogs. Who knew!

And my daughter is beside herself with joy that she actually caught a fish!

Her very first!

Gone Fishin'

My kids know how to enjoy a beautiful Saturday. They're heading to the creek to do some fishing.

I don't expect them to catch much - they're using hot dogs for bait (the fish do actually nibble at the hot dogs). The fish in the creek are all fairly small, the kids' fishing poles have hooks that are rather big.

But catching the fish isn't the point.

Fishing is the point.

And that's what's going to happen today.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Poetry Friday

I'll say this for Poetry Friday, it's sure got me looking at poems a whole lot more than I was recently. So, thank you to Kelly at Big A, little a for getting this started.

So, without further ado:

The Whole Duty of a Poem
by Arthur Guiterman

A poem should be, as our best ever are,
Golden of heart like a rose or a star.

A poem should be, like the brook that you hear
Sing down the mountainside, lovely and clear.

Yet in it's music a poem should hold
That which is felt but may never be told.

Other contributors this week include: Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen, giving tribute to the poem that inspired the title of her new blog. Book Buds gives us a little e e cummings. Jen Robinson shares the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (I love that poem). Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy gives us a little baseball (I just read that one to my son last night). The Scholar's Blog got a jump start with Poetry Thursday. Bookshelves of Doom speaks of poetry controversy. Chris Barton brings us a book review. Little Willow opens us to the realm of possibilities and Chicken Spaghetti shares some Julia Donaldson.

I'll add more contributors if I become aware of them.

Edited to add, MotherReader and her Ode to Mo, and and ode to wild geese over at Blog from the Windowsill.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Ascension of the Lord

... as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem...
Acts 1:9-12
Did you ever think about that scene? Jesus - who was dead (He had definitely been dead, they were sure of that) had come back to them. It had taken a little while just to get their minds wrapped around that. But he's dead - no, he's not - he's here. So he was back. Okay - get comfortable with the thought, start thinking long term - what will we do next and all that. Then they go out on a mountain top with him and the next thing you know Jesus is being lifted up into heaven.

And angels have the nerve to ask why they are staring up at the sky. Of course they are staring at the sky! They were probably completely dumbfounded. I can see them nudging each other and muttering "Did you see that?" "Did that just happen?" "Where did he go?" "Is he coming back?"

And the angels answer that. He's coming back the same way he left. Now I bet, based on that information, they kept their eyes heavenward for the rest of the day - maybe even the week, expecting him to come back down the celestial elevator at any minute.

When he didn't return, and instead the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were finally able to understand (as well as anyone can) what happened, and fulfill their mission.

Bet they kept looking up though!

(photo from

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's a Cool Job - Really

Once upon a time, in my former life, before being a stay-at-home Mom, I was an editor. Not the kind of editor who gets to pick out the next great best seller. Not the kind of editor who has her name on the masthead of a trendy magazine. No, I was an editor for travel trade publications. No getting rich or famous there. Although, I did become known as an answer person in the cruise industry for awhile, while I was the editor of the Official Cruise Guide.

Generally when I tell people I was an editor, they mumble something about "how interesting" but don't sound too interested.

But, my nine-year-old daughter is learning the basic of editing in language arts. She's learning some of the editing symbols, and learning to read and look for mistakes. As I was going over her paper with her, she told me. "It's so cool to have a Mom who was an editor." And she genuinely sounded impressed.

Wow - it's all worth it now!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Swimming Lessons

The geese that we see while we are on our way to and from school are growing bigger. The one set is maybe middle school now, and the younger set 1st grade. Soon they'll be teenagers. (We like to put things in terms we can understand)

We saw the geese having swimming lessons last week. The older set was swimming with its parents, and the parents were flapping their wings while in the water. Demonstrating an important goose maneuver I'm sure. Anyway, after the parent geese did it, the little ones copied them. The parent goose stood in shallow water and flapped its wings full out. The little ones did it too - very cute, because the little ones only have tiny wings.

Everything the parents did, the children copied. The children also had some moves of their own, diving under water and swimming under the parents for example.

When some of the other geese in the creek came too close to the family, one of the parents swam toward the intruder in a menacing way, and hissed and stuck his neck out low. It was very clear that in goose language this meant 'back off'. Now, I can't tell a male Canada Goose from a female Canada Goose, but my son decided that the one protecting his family was the Dad.

So, lessons learned? Children learn by example, and Dad's protect us. Good lessons all around, I think.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

What I've Learned from Watching T-Ball

I must admit, I've never been much of a sports person, but my son is, so I'm learning.

This is our second year of t-ball, and I've learned a lot I didn't know about baseball. For example:
  • Baseball is a tackle sport. If someone else from your team has the ball, then do whatever you can to get it from him or her.
  • The one with the ball wins. It's not so much who hits the ball, or runs the bases, it's all about who ends up with the ball in the field.
  • Running the bases in the right direction is optional. If you head the wrong way, someone will turn you around.
  • The fastest is the best. When running bases, and it's the last hitter and everyone gets to run home, don't worry about passing the people on the other bases. First one home wins.
Now, I know these are 4, 5 and 6 year olds. And they'll get the hang of it as they grow. They'll eventually learn to throw the ball to a teammate (some of them understand that now). They'll understand that only one person in the field is required to get the ball, and the rest don't have to chase him down. They'll automatically head to first base when they hit the ball (and leave the bat behind too.) They'll learn that it's not a foot race and you can't pass your teammates while running bases.

They'll learn all that, but it won't be nearly as amusing to watch.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Poetry Friday

Since my six-year-old son has to sit still for several minutes at a time (not an easy task) while using his nebulizer, we've been entertaining him with some poems from Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne.
This is one of his favorites.

Us Two
by A. A. Milne

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going to-day?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

"What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
"I think it ought to be twenty-two."
"Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
"It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what it is," said Pooh.

"Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
"Yes, let's said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few--
"Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
"As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what they are," said Pooh.

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.
"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!" -- and off they flew.
"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

So, wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together," says Pooh, says he.
"That's how it is," says Pooh.

Over at Big A little a, Kelly has a Spanish edition of Poetry Friday this week, and Book Buds features a tribute to Ogden Nash, Jen Robinson's Book Page features TS Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock, Little Willow speaks of little mice and Here in the Bonny Glen highlights Children Selecting Books in the Library. There may be more contributions, but I usually find them through A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, and Liz is away at Book Expo this week, so I've had to search on my own. Sorry if I missed anyone.

Edited to add: A Fuse #8 Production has appeased the Poetry Friday Gods by reviewing a charming rhyming picture book.
Other contributors: Blog from the Windowsill, Bookshelves of Doom, Mungo's Mathoms, and Chicken Spaghetti.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Testing its Wings

The baby bird we've been watching grow up outside our front door is gone. The nest is empty. Nothing sinister has happened, the bird just grew up. Perhaps it will come back to the nest to sleep. Perhaps not. Where do birds sleep? It has only been a couple of weeks since the egg first hatched. And although the bird is not full grown, it is apparently ready to head out into the world.

I'm glad I'm not a mother bird. Children grow up fast enough - but two weeks!? That's just crazy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Baby Bird

The Robin family decided that the holly tree directly next to our front door was a fine place for their home.

There were three blue eggs in the nest, but so far only definite evidence of one baby bird (though my daughter believes there are two.)

The baby robin, hatched only a week or so ago is really growing quite big, as you can see in the picture.

What I love is when the baby decides it wants food. It opens it's mouth wide, pointing straight up in the air and makes a little chirpy noise.

Now the bird does this whether the mother is anywhere around with food to give it or not. Sometimes I think when we open our front door the baby thinks her mother has come back. Because that is when she (he? who knows) starts to beg for food. (I couldn't get a picture of that, I wasn't quick enough.)

But the bird has total faith that if he (she?) opens his mouth and asks for food, food will eventually be provided.

Ask and ye shall receive. I think I've heard that somewhere before.


My daughter just finished reading Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. And she was so "glad, glad, glad" to have read it. I first read it to her a couple of years ago - from an old 1913 edition that is truly falling apart. Pollyanna is a wonderful read-aloud book. The character of Pollyanna is very fun. How can you not love reading about a character who says, shortly after we first meet her (at the train station, when asked if she has a trunk with her):

"Yes, I have," nodded Pollyanna, importantly. "I've got a brand-new one. The Ladie's Aid bought it for me -- and wasn't it lovely of them, when they wanted the carpet so? Of course I don't know how much red carpet a trunk could buy, but it ought to buy some, anyhow -- much as half an aisle, don't you think? I've got a little thing here in my bag that Mr. Gray said was a check, and that I must give it to you before I could get my trunk. Mr. Gray is Mrs. Gray's husband. They're cousins of Deacon Carr's wife. I came East with them, and they're lovely! And -- there, here 'tis," she finished, producing the check after much fumbling in the bag she carried.

After we read it that first time we rented the 1960 movie starring Hayley Mills. I remember enjoying that movie as a child, but it so totally paled in comparison to the book. If your only experience of the Pollyanna story is one of the movies - give the book a try. Read it aloud to your child - you'll be so glad, glad, glad you did.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Poetry Friday

In honor of Mother's day.

Nobody Knows But Mother
by Mary Morrison

How many buttons are missing today?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many playthings are strewn in her way?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many thimbles and spools has she missed?
How many burns on each fat little fist?
How many bumps to be cuddled and kissed?
Nobody knows but Mother.

How many hats has she hunted today?
Nobody knows but Mother.
Carelessly hiding themselves in the hay --
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many handkerchiefs willfully strayed?
How many ribbons for each little maid?
How for her care can a mother be paid?
Nobody knows but Mother.

How many muddy shoes all in a row?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many stockings to darn, do you know?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many little torn aprons to mend?
How many hours of toil must she spend?
What is the time her day's work shall end?
Nobody knows but Mother.

How many lunches for Tommy and Sam?
Nobody knows but Mother.
Cookies and apples and blackberry jam --
Nobody knows but Mother.
Nourishing dainties for every "sweet tooth",
Toddling Dottie or dignified Ruth --
How much love sweetens the labor, forsooth?
Nobody knows but Mother.

How many cares does a mother's heart know?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many joys from her mother love flow?
Nobody knows but Mother.
How many prayers for each little white bed?
How many tears for her babes has she shed?
How many kisses for each curly head?
Nobody knows but Mother.
Other poetry Friday contributors: A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy, Blog from the Windowsill, Book Buds, Farm School, Jen Robinson's Book Page, Little Willow, and Scholar's Blog.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Goslings are Here

Every spring, one of the big events on our walk to school is when we finally see the new baby geese. We saw three goslings this week. There will probably be more soon - last year there was one little family of 12!

We walk along a creek to get to school, and that is where the Canada Geese and some ducks live (year round.) Anyone who has lived near where Canada Geese congregate know that they can be a messy nuisance. You must constantly watch your step. But when those first little yellow fuzz balls are spotted, all that is forgotten.

Every day we look to see if we can find the goslings. And before you know it they get so big it's hard to distinguish them from their parents. Last year, my daughter observed sadly, "they grow up so fast."

It's true - by the end of the summer, these goslings will be full grown geese. Children grow fast too (can my daughter really be nine years old?) but at least we get to keep them small for a lot longer than the geese do. There's definitely a blessing to be had in that!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sometimes the importance of a story is not just in it being written, but it being read as well. With this in mind, I've decided to post some short stories and medititations, based on people or events in the bible, in a new webzine I created called Ponderances. Right now there is one story posted. As more are available, I'll make that information known here. Enjoy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

National Day of Prayer

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer. I didn't really set aside any extra time for prayer yesterday.

But this is what I did:

I volunteered at my children's school library and helped 1st and 2nd graders pick out books to read, as well as shelving books and organizing the shelves so books could be found.

I spent the afternoon at the park with my son while he and his friend played on the jungle gym and rode their scooters.

With my children, I watched a mother robin feed her baby birds (in the nest she built in the holly tree directly next to our front door).

And of course there were the other things the cooking, the cleaning, the getting people to and from school.

Isn't all of it really a prayer? Isn't the way we live our lives a way of communicating with God?

I pray frequently too, either just in conversation with God or by using regular prayers (by which I mean the Our Father, Hail Mary, etc.)

So, yesterday was the National Day of Prayer. But really, every day is a Day of Prayer?

Poetry Friday

Another Friday, another poem.
This is from Now We Are Six by AA Milne. This is one of my favorites, and one of my daughter's favorites as well. In fact my daughter read it to her class when she was in first grade.

The Good Little Girl
By A. A. Milne

It'’s funny how often they say to me, "“Jane?
"“Have you been a good girl?"
"“Have you been a good girl?"
And when they have said it, they say it again,
"“Have you been a good girl?"
"“Have you been a good girl?"”

I go to a party, I go out to tea
I go to an aunt for a week at the sea
I come back from school or from playing a game;
Wherever I come from, it'’s always the same:
Have you been a good girl, Jane?"”

It'’s always the end of the loveliest day:
"“Have you been a good girl?"”
"“Have you been a good girl?"
I went to the Zoo, and they waited to say:
"“Have you been a good girl?"
"“Have you been a good girl?"”

Well, what did they think that I went there to do?
And why should I want to be bad at the Zoo?
And should I be likely to say if I had?
So that'’s why it'’s funny of Mummy and Dad,
This asking and asking, in case I was bad,
Have you been a good girl, Jane?"”
Poetry Friday was started by Kelly at Big A little a. So far I see a contribution from Farm School. I'll add more when there are more to add.

Edited to add these Poetry Friday contributors.
A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy, Blog from the Windowsill, Chicken Spaghetti, A Fuse#8 Production, Here in the Bonny Glen, and Scholar's Blog.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hey, No Fair!

Even very young children have what seems to be a natural sense of fairness. They are very quick to point out if someone has one more piece of candy than they do, if someone got an extra turn, or if someone took their blocks away. And then you hear it: Hey, no Fair!

So, children, from a very young age understand that there is a right way to do something and a wrong way. No cutting in line, take turns, don't take something that doesn't belong to you.

When does that sense of rightness and wrongness fade away? It seems that every couple of months there is another article in a news magazine about the proliferation of cheating in the schools. Reader's Digest had an article about it just this past March.

Once kids think it's okay to do whatever it takes to get ahead - where does it stop? Maybe it doesn't. This past week when the story of the Harvard- student-with-the-great-book-deal,-but it-turned-out-she-plagarized-some-of-it broke, it brought cheating to the headlines again. Because plagarizing is cheating - no two ways about it. Liz at A Chair a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy had a great post on this, and since I can't say it any better, I won't try.

And then, not to get embroiled in the illegal immigration debate - but isn't coming to this country without going through the proper channels - simply another way of cheating? Couldn't the people waiting on line to get the paper work and approval they need call out "Hey, no cutting in line?"

Just two more thoughts on the illegal immigration debate. People say that these workers do the work Americans won't do because the pay is so low. Why is it a good thing to have a class of people who are relegated to work at jobs that don't pay a living wage?

And people who are here illegally are subject to all kinds of indignities. Such as this story from the Newark Star-Ledger about undocumented Mexicans who were forced into prostitution. Without the benefit of being here legally, they probably felt they had no choice.

So, to sum it up. Play by the rules, we all knew what they were when we were three: don't take what doesn't belong to you, wait your turn, and so on and so forth. The rules haven't changed, just the stakes.