Friday, May 17, 2013

New Blog Site

Sorry Blogger, I'm leaving you. Now don't cry! It's not me, it's you. You're just too simple. I need a website with a few more options and a bit more bling to catalog my simple life. (Irony is the bread of life.) Please don't take this personally. You still have lots of other users.

If you feel like stalking me, please do so at

Take care now!

Simple Food

Why does every meal have to be so frigging complicated? Why is dinner such a pain in the behind -Every. Single. Night ??

Is your house like this? From 4pm till 8pm complete and utter chaos?

I have no idea who these people are or what they are doing, but this is what my house looks like most nights.

Even when we got rid of our extra curricular activities in an attempt to simplify our evenings and restore some sort of peace to our home while finishing a dump truck load of homework, dinner time was still a complete mosh pit.

I guess that's because kids are required to mostly sit still and be quiet for all but 20 min of their day, unless they happen to have PE for their special. Who wouldn't want to come home and run and shout and throw apples at each other?  (True story.)

But even on days like Saturday when we complete a few chores, maybe do something fun and lay around, for some reason my stress levels spike past the moon when it's 4pm. No one is screaming, no one is throwing apples, but it's time to cook. I am the sole person responsible for feeding five other human beings a healthy, nutricious, balanced meal that they will LIKE. Because if I force it down their throats and accidentally poke them with the fork then they have grounds for joining the foster system and none of us want that.

So I resolved to make dinner a simple time of night. Breakfast is simple, most mornings, at our house. Everyone just gets toast or cereal or oatmeal for themselves. If they want something more they can ask me and I'll make them eggs or bacon, it's just really laid back. So I thought, why can't dinner be like that?

My favorite dinner times are when we have breakfast for dinner. I thought about making spaghetti for breakfast, but that just made me kind of sick. I decided that the reason breakfast is so easy going is that there is no pressure on me to find something to feed everyone that they will all love and sing praises to.

SOLUTION #1 - Let the kids take turns picking out what's for dinner.

This worked pretty well for a while. Everyone had their own night and we made the meal plans ahead of time and the kids were excited when their night came around. I let them be the special helper and told everyone else to stuff it if they didn't like what we were having.

But really, who is this organized ALL THE TIME? Not this mommy.

SOLUTION #2 - Let them eat whatever they can find.

I found this to be a VERY nice change as I didn't have to do ANYTHING for dinner. One time I even sat and read a magazine while the kids raided the pantry and fridge. The problem: clean up. Even though I have my kids help me clean up the kitchen after meals, this was epic. We only did it a couple of times, but for some reason breakfast foods are much easier to clean up than dinner foods. Hmmm.


When it's bleeding hot outside and we've been at the beach all day or digging in the yard, no one ever wants to eat much, but I still feel that push to keep them alive with food stuffed in their faces. One summer I read an article in a parenting magazine (NOT Parenting - I hate that rag. Terrible, nasty publication.) that gave me permission to feed my kids a smoothy for dinner. Ah ha! I thought! Liquid gold. Perfect!

My smoothies are pretty all encompassing. I use a protein powder, spinach (always spinach), frozen fruit and any other kind of vitamin or mineral I can get in there. They are generally well received and provide most of the basic food groups. (We don't really count grains as a food group around here because most of us are overweight or allergic to them, but if you really want, it's fun to throw in a handful of oatmeal in a smoothie.)

I've also been guilty of throwing the veggie tray on teh counter and saying.. DINNER IS SERVED! I run a veggie co-op so we almost always have fresh fruits and veggies around. Does it hurt my kids to have a protien shake and raw carrots for dinner? NO. Especially if they are hot and tired and ready for a movie and bed.

Side note, popcorn is a nice follow up for the smoothie/veggie tray dinner.

I've also done a lot of other things to try and make dinner time easier, and while some of them worked, none of them worked all the time. The best thing I ever did was stop telling myself that we had to have a perfectly baked casserole with meat and veggies and a side of homemade rolls to go with it every night. We really don't. I don't even like casserole unless it's snowing outside. My kids would rather die than eat something baked in the oven with SAUCE - Heaven help us!! So why bother? If they are eating fruits and veggies and healthy grains and meat once in a while (most of us are vegetarian around her these days) then who cares? WHO??? Not this mommy.

And I've tried to apply that idea to my eating as well. I do not need a giant sandwich with all the fixings and a side of chips and a soda for lunch. Most of the time I'm  not that hungry. I can eat an apple and some nuts and feel great for a couple of hours and that's fine.

I guess I didn't realized how brainwashed I was into thinking I needed to feed my kids well planned, beautiful, calorie dense meals at every sitting. I certainly don't need that much food in my face. Why do they?

I'm hoping this all turns out to be the kind of set up that teaches my kids to eat food to stay alive, not for enjoyment and ritual only. My guess is that's why America has such a weight problem: it's a ritual, it's enjoyable, it's easy and the easiest, cheapest foods are the worst ones for us.

My family is trying an experiment this summer. We're going to see how long we can go without eating out at all. Every meal made at home. I'll let you know how it's going as the summer progresses. Hopefully we all survive.

How do you simplify dinner time? Why else is excited for school to be out and their kids to be home? This mommy is!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our New Improved Simple Life

My poor little neglected family blog. I have left you sitting idle for two years while I ran amok chasing dreams of literary excellence. Unfortunately the state of my blog mirrors the state of my life a bit as well. I haven't completely abandoned my children and husband for hours of writing in a darkened room, but I haven't been exactly attentive either.

A few things have happened to make me slow down and readjust my priorities. I won't go into all those gory details, but the outcome of much deep thinking and observation has led my husband and I to some pretty big decisions. I will list those farther down the page. The next thing it led me to was the need to express some of my "AH HA!" moments in writing. I think this little corner is the perfect venue. So without further delay, may I present my first big fat epiphany.


I am a simple girl at heart. I grew up on a farm. I like to sew and grow my own vegetables. For the past few years I've watched my friends living the "American Dream" - soccer games, public school, church every sunday and during the week as well, camp outs, DisneyWorld, soccer, softball, school plays, soccer, PTA and on and on and on. So many of my friends seem to thrive as a family in this environment, but I feel like I'm drowning trying to keep up with it all. I find myself day dreaming about buying an island and teaching my kids how to forage for coconuts then watching the sunset on the beach every night. (<---- br="" exactly="" material="" not="" pta="" there.="">

In the past I've had my kids in dance, gymnastics and softball. We've also done home school, private school and public schools depending on the status of our needs and the services offered. We're very active in our church and we attend all the meetings we physically are required to attend. But after I survived delivering Baby George (my fourth) into this world things got a bit out of control and I thought, something's gotta give. 

I ended up making a list of all the things we do. Then I broke it down into the things we HAVE to do and will not give up. That pretty much looked like this:

Church on Sunday
School (of some sort)

Pretty nice list eh? Everything else I realized we could really live without. Then I added what I wanted for my kids and the list looked like this:

Church on Sunday
Quality Education
Activities with other kids
Down Time

Even with my dummied down post baby schedule, my kids were only getting two of the four on the list.

It took me 18 months to sort it all out (yes I'm slow, but I blame part of it on baby.. that's why we have babies right? To blame stuff on them ;) and this is what my husband and I came up with:

We are not good at living the typical American schedule so we aren't going to live the typical American schedule. Our kids don't do very well on that schedule either. When you break it down to its very basic roots, our kids don't even function very well on a public school schedule. They get up early and run out the door then come home late and cranky, facing an hour (at least) of homework, dinner, maybe reading time and then bed. We haven't even done ANY sports this year at all because we just haven't had TIME.

So we're throwing out public school for good. We just can't do it. And that is fine. We've had a great school to work with this year and great teachers, but for a number of reasons, it just isn't the kind of childhood we want for our kids.

My goal for my home is to live a SIMPLE LIFE. I want those four things for my kids. Church, Quality Education, Friends and time to rest and play and just discover who they want to be when they grow up. We live by 14 acres of beautiful wild forest, my kids should have time to explore it and dream and just breath. As it is now, they don't.

Along with that I've simplified the way we eat, the way we spend our money, the expectations I have for my kids in general. My kids aren't out of school yet, but I've tried to implement this theory into everything else that we do. We explained most of it to the kids on their level and things around here are feeling much less constricted. There are plenty of things I need to work on as a person and especially as a mother, but for the most part this feels good. GOOD!

I feel GOOD about what I'm doing! And it feels so GOOD to feel GOOD! Like I'm finally getting something right!

In the past I've felt selfconscious doing anything off the beaten path. That didn't ever stop me, but it didn't feel good either. Not like I feel now. Maybe it's because I'm older and I care less about what other people think and say to me. Maybe it's because my nieces and nephews are getting married and having babies all over the place and I have this real sense of just how short childhood really is. These babies won't be with me much longer. My oldest is turning 10 in a couple of weeks and that means he's a full year into the downward slide right out of our home. There are rocky years ahead for him. It's rocky as a preteen and teen in this life as it is without throwing autism on top of it all.

So that's it. I'm trying to readjust my life so that it serves my children a rich but simple childhood they can look back on and feel GOOD about. Luckily I have an amazing husband who is on the same track as I am and who works hard so I can home school these sweet kids and take them to co-ops and field trips. We have the makings for a perfect storm and I can't wait to make kites!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Lazy Cannery

I've decided that if I were to write a craft blog it would have to be called "Lazy Suzan's Craft World of Wonders" mostly because I am the most lazy creative person you will probably ever meet. If I'm really fired up about something I'll do a great job on it. I have a real love affair with good quality. But I am also a realist and I can physically feel the meter in my body that keeps track of energy dipping and swaying throughout my days. I have to measure the location of the meter with the job at hand. If the energy is there then Yes!! We will do our very best to put out an A++++ product. If not, and I absolutely HAVE to do it, then you're gonna take what you can get.

There are some projects, like canning, that I hate. But I also have this little glitch in my matrix that was placed there by my parents when I was a child that says - YOU WILL WASTE NO FOOD! So if I have a bumper crop of zucchini, like two years ago, you can bet we're going to have 25o jars of cinnamon pickles to hand out at Christmas. (Mmm.. cinnamon pickles... :)

That said, I've found a happy medium with my food demons and my canning woes. I only can what I don't have to boil forever in a hot bath. I don't usually write blog tips or tricks, but I'm writing this post because one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world, who grew up Mormon, in Idaho, (by default this means she should know all the handy, crafty short cuts ever created) but also lives in the gigantically crafty state of Utah now and is a canning goddess herself, did not know that you don't have to boil the crap out of everything in order for it to be sealed safely for the five - ten year plan.

What? You didn't know either? Well it's your lucky day! Because I had ten million apples going bad in my kitchen today and my kids were sick of fresh apple cider so I decided we should just can up some apple sauce the Lazy Suzan way... Here it is...

First thing we do is prepare the food in question. This method works for just about everything, fruit or veggie-wise, but not for meat or anything else that has to be pressure cooked. Also, this method does not work well if you want those pretty whole fruits or veggies in a jar. It is only to be used with foods that you chop into oblivion and then cook the crap out of for at least one day on the stove, like salsa, jam, chutney, vegetarian spaghetti sauce, pickles, etc. Consequently you might just want some high heat welding gloves while you're handling the final product.

So for apple sauce I peal and core the cuties and chop them into my shiny silver pot. But this time I got even lazier and half way through the case I started just pulling the core out and throwing them through my juicer, then I threw the pulp and juice in the pot together and stirred it up. (I gave myself an especially hearty back pat for having saved all those lovely peals from my picky chickens who don't appreciate all the vitamins and nutrients I'm giving them.) Then I throw in some cinnamon and because I'm a Nazi about sugar I leave it at that. I never add sugar to my home canned goods (unless it's cinnamon pickles... yum!!!) I think fruit should taste like God made it. Not like it came from Denny's jam and syrup tray. If God missed a step and your peaches taste like lemons, try adding a super ripe pineapple to sweeten it up or some stevia.. yummo! Sugar is so 1989. Anyway.. next steps...

Just before I'm done simmering the pot for the day I throw my canning jars in the dish washer and my lids and rings in a pot of hot water simmering on the stove. When the dish washer is done I load the hot, clean jars one by one with apple sauce, wipe the rims clean and the lid dry, and then seal with a lid and ring using a thick dry towel to get it on as tight as possible without burning the begeezus out of my hands.

Now here's Great-grandma's big trick: Turn your jars upside down on a dish towel and don't touch them for a couple of hours while they cool. The heat from the super hot over cooked food will lay there on that gummy glued lid and seal it up tighter than.. well.. (fill in your own favorite analogy here.)

Once the jars are cool, turn them right side up and test the tops. If any of them pop when you press on them then you are, unfortunately, going to have to boil them for about 20 min in a hot water bath to get them sealed up tight. Either that or eat it as a midnight snack (cinnamon pickles!!!! Yum) But most of the time I have total success with this method and nothing ever pops on me.

Good luck canning all you lazy ladies out there! So far we've been botulism free for about 4 generations of canners so you should be fine too. Just don't turn me into the FDA or anything ok?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's that time of year...

It feels like the last six months have flown by in a huge whirl wind. I can't believe it's already time for Christmas. I realized about two weeks ago that I had 6 days to get my family ready to head out west for Thanksgiving and George's baby blessing. For some reason I felt like I had to get Christmas done as well. So I'm sitting here checking off my list and realizing that all I have left to do is decorate that house. That's right folks. I panicked and finished Christmas shopping in record time! I even ordered cards. Of course it helps that we only get the kids a few things. A good friend of mine told me about a tradition at her house. They buy their kids each something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It sort of helps me keep track of what everyone is getting so we don't end up in a panic on Christmas Eve because one little girl has fifteen gifts and the other kids only have three (this has happened before... not because I love one more than the other.. I just have more similar tastes with one than I do with the others!)I even ordered Christmas cards. And I thought it might be fun to ruin the surprise.. here's a digital sneak peak..

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

I plan on writing up a little bit about our trip out west in the next post. We have many folks to thank and fun stories to share. Life is good.

May your days be merry and bright!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Labor & Delivery

I've been thinking a lot about the term Labor & Delivery. It might sound stupid, but it's so appropriate! I'd never thought about it before. Last Sunday night I had plenty of time to do just that... think about every single random thing I'd never thought of before while waiting for our baby to drop down and pop out.

This whole pregnancy has been weird and difficult and filled with all kinds of surprises. For the first time I found myself under doctor's orders NOT to exercise. With all the other babies I'd tried so hard to stay active and in shape, to not gain a ton of weight. Not like it helped any, but it was something I could do. This time I felt like a hot house flower. I couldn't even go for walks for fear of passing out and my pelvis popping open and Armageddon coming down upon us. So it was a long 9 months to say the least.

That's why once I hit 37 weeks and got my trusty email from BabyCenter (the psychic baby know everything website) telling me that my bun was done cooking and safe to come out, I started doing everything I could think of to get the ball rolling. The ball being me. I was huge and round and ready to burst for those of you who didn't get to laugh and shake your head at me in person as I expanded.

All my efforts of the week paid off. Sunday afternoon I was awakened from my nap by a rather large, ground moving contraction. I didn't think much of it until the next one came, and then the next one, and another. "Honey!" I yelled from the bedroom..."You might want to download that contraction timing app thingy!"

I figured since Maggie and Lydia both took a couple of days (with Maggie it was weeks) of nightly contractions to get things going there was no big rush. But then Dan informed me that these puppies were three minutes apart and a good 45 seconds to a minute long. We called the midwife.. she said come on in and away we went!

Flash forward at least five hours. Contractions are dying down, I'm dozing off, the baby hasn't dropped and if I hadn't been hooked up to about fifteen bags of antibiotics I would have gone home. However, I knew that if I went home I'd most likely cry all night and end up having the baby in the bathroom on accident, so we stayed. And they talked me into trying out a little drug called pitocin.

Now all my other babies have come relatively fast. I've never had time for drugs or choices of any kind. It was just get to where someone who knows what they are doing can catch this little person and clean them up for me! So this was all new. I'd been in labor off and on all night, they were offering me all these choices, the nurse hated my guts because I wouldn't just go ahead and have the stinking baby!! (Serious.. I could see it in her face every time she came in to drug me up) and I was so tired.

But here's where it gets exciting. I went ahead and told them to give me a half dose of pitocin but not an epidural because I have a thing about needles in my back. I'd rather feel every pain of labor (or so I thought) than have a needle jammed in my spine that may or may not deaden me from the waste down and leave me numb and twitching for life. (I know..drama.) I could tell they thought I was stupid for wanting half a dose, but I'm pretty good with drugs, I usually only need a half dose of what normal people take. And this was no different. I started having contractions again, but only when I laid down. And the baby hadn't dropped yet. So we started walking the halls, marching, doing squats. Everything I could think of that might make the little sucker drop. The contractions would stop then I'd lay back down and they'd start again. About 4 am I was so exhausted I was sleeping through the contractions and dreaming I was being speared by restless natives, or some such, until a rather large one hit me and woke me. Then I felt a *gush* "YES!!!" I hollered and woke Dan up "My water broke!"

Now it was a small gush, but I thought.. hey! Baby's head probably stopped it up and if I get up and move around the rest of the ten gallons I've been carrying around will fly out and we'll have a baby before sunrise! I sat up and edged off the bed.. GUSH! Another one! Still small, but exciting! We called the nurse, she got out her little tester papers and dipped it in the gush and said: "Uh.. yah... uh... I'm pretty sure that's amniotic fluid. Sure! Let's go ahead and call the midwife." who was sleeping in the other room.

Her hesitation and the fact that it was dark in the room when she read the results should have been a big flashing red light. The girl wanted me out of there after all.

Flash forward again, because after that all that happened it was just more of the same. Heavy contractions and then nothing for a long time. So so so annoying!!! By morning I was so fed up and exhausted I couldn't wait for a change of plans. I honestly would have gone home and had my baby in the bathroom on accident at this point except that everyone thought my water had broken so they didn't want to send me home. Things just weren't going the way they usually did for me. With all the other babies, once my water broke it was a like a NASCAR race. Lydia was two and a half hours, Maggie was an hour and a half. What was taking so long? And I didn't feel right. I just didn't feel like I was where they said I was.

Finally.. shift change. New nurse!! And bless her heart, after spending a few hours monitoring me she and I sat down and had a heart to heart. Sloppy Joe Nurse (I've changed names to protect the actual people) from the night before had just shoved the messy chucks from my water breaking under my bed. I got to looking at them. They were bright yellow... yellow?? Amniotic fluid is not yellow unless there is something really wrong. I pointed this out to Angel From Heaven Nurse and she agreed with me. My water hadn't broken. I just wet the bed.

Nice, I know. But Labor & Delivery is like that. It's messy and confusing and so, so gross. I can't beleive people do it with their kids watching. Talk about scarred for life. But I'm not here to judge. Back to the story...

So that's when the crew got together and decided it was time to get things going. For whatever reason they'd been hesitant to break my water the night before, they didn't even tell me what they were doing now. New midwife came in and pulled out the big long water breaker thingy and I was like.. "whoa! what is that?" "Oh," she replied matter of factly, "we're going to break your water."

I love it when they just jump in and do things without telling you or asking you or preparing you. Like the night before when they came in and hung a bunch of new bags of crap on my IV pole. "What is that?" I asked. "Pain killers and stuff to knock you out." "No thanks," I said.. I know, and they don't know, that that stuff makes me vomit and I was having none of that. Still, they thought I was crazy. Why don't they trust that we know our own bodies? I am perfectly fine missing sleep and breathing through contractions. I'd rather do that than barf my way through contractions.

Once again.. back to the story. Nurse gets a little towel and midwife gets ready to burst the bubble. I started to say something along the lines of, we might need a bigger towel, but it was too late... and once again.. for the fourth time in my life I hear a chorus of: "WHOA! That's a lot of water!!!" I'm just thanking the Lord above that none of those four times was on the subway like in all my nightmares. And it was a lot of water, and I knew it was only the tip of the ice burg.

"We need a bigger towel" I finally got out just as *GUSH!!* the real water works started going. About three more huge gushes, people sticking their heads in to see all the water coming out of the girl who just won't give birth, and a quick sheet change, I sit back on the bed, ask them nicely to turn off the pitocin now, which they didn't want to do in case I stopped contracting again. But they agreed to cut it in half. Looking back now, I should have stuck to my guns and made them turn it off. Turns out I had been on twice the normal dose for a person being induced. Awesome huh? the one drug that doesn't effect me, or so we thought. I am guessing I was just so water logged it was like squishing a water bed around and wasn't doing much good at all. Except now with the water gone, they agreed to cut the dose in half and then everyone left.

That's right. EVERYONE LEFT! It was me and Dan all alone and the first big mother of all baby squeezing contractions hit. This was it.. he was coming. I felt him drop and about four big contractions on top of each other I knew it was time to push, only it was still just me and Dan. WTW? (as my kids say.. what the what?!) Where the freak was everyone? I kept telling them that things would go fast once they broke my water. They obviously didn't believe me, but who could blame them. I'd been hanging out there all night and all day like a regular person in labor, not Speedy Gonzales I'd been bragging myself up to be. The midwife actually went BACK TO HER OFFICE! I found that out later and seriously did a forehead slap. We called up Nurse Sent From Heaven and she took one look and rallied the troops. Finally! I had a room full of people and big lights and instruments of torture ready and waiting and here's where I really felt like I could do my thing and have a good delivery, only it was totally out of control.

I think that during a natural child birth with a fist baby you have no clue what you are doing. It's all shock and awe. With the second baby, I thought I knew what to do but I made mistakes. With the third baby.. it was awesome. It hurts, don't get me wrong, but you know where you are and what to do and if all is well, it's a great experience. This was just wrong. Everything was too intense. I couldn't get into my yoga moma pushing groove. Everything hurt too much, I couldn't focus, so I just fixed my mind on my baby and didn't stop pushing to breathe or anything until he was out. During the course of what seemed like at least a year, but was probably five minutes tops, my face and entire left side of my body went numb, I heard a very loud pop (my pelvis separating) and I was sure my baby had two heads when his shoulder got hung up and I had to push the little line backer out for a second time.

I was seriously disappointed in myself a few minutes later when I realized I was in so much pain that I didn't even think about the baby. I had no idea where he was or where I was or that he had trouble breathing. I tried to tell them something was wrong but they were busy cleaning things up, collecting cord blood, etc. etc. Finally, I caught my breath and was able to tell them my hips were separated and would they PLEASE TURN OFF THE BLOODY PITOCIN NOW! The answer? No. I needed two more bags to clamp down my uterus.

What the what?!

Anyway. Long story short. He was born an hour after they popped me. The midwife made it back just in time. And they really are good folks down there at Wake Med Cary. They did a good job. It was just the standard patient/caregiver relationship issues that got in the way. After all was said and done and Baby George was breathing well and I was finally in a position that I could stand and the pitocin was FINALLY turned off. All was right in the world. He was here safe and sound and that's all that matters.

I'm fairly certain that none of my other pregnancies or labors consisted of quite that much labor. And the deliveries have never been so bitter sweet. The whole idea of delivery is a beautiful one to me. Being delivered from pain and fear... I know there are many scriptures centered around the idea of letting Christ deliver us from the burdens of our life. I have to admit. There were many prayers said over the course of the 14 days it felt like I was in that hospital, both for L&D and recovery. And they were all answered with a sweet feeling of peace and a calming assurance that all would be well. And it was. That doesn't mean that it won't be painful or scary or go as you've planned, but all is well when we turn to the Lord and put our faith in him.

Some of you chuckle under your breath at the name George. But we named him after his father, Daniel George Holt. Who is the best husband and father I could have ever wished for. And he in turn is named after his father, George Wilson Holt. A finer man, and better example of love and kindness, I have never met. I can see where my sweet husband learned to be the good man he is. George is a good, strong, traditional name from a good family of good men and I hope that he can appreciate it and be proud of that as he grows into his name.

Dan chose Aaron as his middle name. I figured after bossing him around on the other three kids and their names I'd let him have this one with no argument. (You're welcome!) But it turned out to be an excellent choice. Aaron is often the younger brother in the scriptures. Teaching and supporting his siblings and those around him. A good example of strong faith and patience. I hope that our little George Aaron is patient and strong, although I'm sure he'll be a pest long before that :) That's what little brother's are for right?

And so we finish one segment of labor and delivery only to start on an entirely new one. One that happens daily. Working with my kids every day, whether teaching them or playing with them or disciplining them, it is all definitely labor. And each morning that starts anew when their happy little faces poke into mine and their arms wrap around me and ask me how my dreams were, I feel like I am delivered from the mistakes of the past and can start afresh. What a blessing :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tiny Miracles

I was mostly joking in my last post when I stated the rules for handling of wild/dead animals at our house. I should have known better. Lydia came to me yesterday with huge eyes and a plea for me to come right away to the deck. She had found a tiny bird sitting at our back door. It was obviously not in good shape, laying on it's side and having a very hard time breathing. My first thought was that this was a little gift from our friend Jolly the Neighborhood Cat. (Who decided we serve the best vittles and has become a permanent fixture in the back yard.) We crouched around the bird and everyone took turns sort of poking it before I finished my assessment and decided the least we could do was bring it inside to die a warm and comfortable death. It was, after all, cold and rainy outside and I've seen what Jolly does to the squirrels, I couldn't let her finish off this dear little bird.

Despite my horrific allergies, I've spent a lot of time with animals in my life. Many people are surprised to hear this because I am allergic to everything under the sun, but it wasn't always this way. There was a time when I slept with my cat and let my dog lick my arm affectionately. These days if a dog licks me I break out in blisters and cats anywhere near my face, clothing or house will swell my airways shut faster than you can shake a stick at a snake. But I also have a huge soft spot for all things nonverbal and fuzzy. So I scooped the little sucker up and put it in a little bucket with a little dish towel and we set it in a corner of the sun room so that it could be near plants and the sun, should it choose to show it's face.

I also have a pretty good knowledge of animal husbandry and veterinary techniques thanks to my Dad who didn't really use the vet for much more than things that were illegal for him to do himself. Because of this I know that birds are extremely fragile and rarely ever recover from an injury or illness this severe. You can't really feed them anything very easily, they dehydrate faster than a thimble of dew on the Sahara and they are so delicate and jumpy it's hard to house or administer to them at all. Still, I wanted it to be comfortable in it's last few hours.

I explained this to the kids as we scrubbed up for lunch. I told them that it was probably going to die and that at least we gave it a nice bed and yes, they could see it in heaven when they died too some day (far, far, far in the future!) All three kids were a bit teary eyed and begged to say a prayer for the little bird along with their grilled cheese sandwiches. I gave in, we prayed for the bird and our food then ate and ran off to our other commitments for the day.

When we got home just after 6pm that night Maggie was the first to remember the birdie and run to check on it. She started screaming and crying. I thought, "oh crap, I've really screwed up this time. Baby girl saw dead little bird."

I raced up stairs to comfort her and dispose of the little body, when to my surprise I found Maggie over an "empty tomb". The bucket was on the ground, and the birdie was no where to be seen. Upon closer inspection of the bucket I saw that there was some healthy looking bird droppings on the little bed, however so my heart started to perk up. (More on discerning healthy vs. unhealthy bird droppings in another post... maybe.) A bird who can poop and leave the box is probably a bird that is going to make it.

Sure enough, the little bugger was hiding under the kitchen table. We had a little chase around the house before I cornered it and returned it to the bucket, with a lid this time. We added some soft wet rice grains and some bird seed (unwittingly donated by Bob the cranky parakeet) and the kids prayed again for the little sucker and we waited out the night. It was too cold and way too rainy and heart breaking to think of turning it lose in the dark that night.

I thought for sure it would be dead in the morning. I think I've turned into a bit of a pessimist over the past year. Disappointments in life will do that to a person. I still kept that happy little feeling from seeing the "empty tomb" though. It was heart warming to see my kids cheering and grinning because their birdie prayers had been answered. And I was surprise the little guy had made it as far as he had from where he had been. Still, my goal was to make it to the kitchen before the kids to soften the blow should there be one to soften.

Luckily, there wasn't. The bird was snuggled down with his bits around him just like he owned the place. He seemed very alert and aware and the weather had let up a bit so we decided to let him go. After all, wild animals take much better care of themselves than we can, except in very specific circumstances.

We set the bucket outside, took a few pictures and then lifted the lid. Everyone cheered as he hopped out and then flew about four feet to land by the fire pit. Enter Jolly the Neighborhood Cat. Introduce five screaming children and one frantic mother in her pj's and no shoes.


The screaming was probably heard all the way into Johnston County and luckily it was enough to cause Jolly the mighty huntress a moment of pause just long enough for our little birdie to escape to higher, more dense ground.

It was quite a bit of drama for our house in a short period of time. It could have turned out much, much worse, at several different points. (Imagine not finding the bird in the house until you could smell it.. ugh!!) But I re-learned a valuable lesson from the whole thing. Just because something bad is the most likely outcome doesn't mean that's the outcome that will happen. And never, never, never doubt the power of a child's prayer. Especially when it's three children bent on the same sweet desire.