Thursday, June 19, 2014


A few days ago Grace and I dropped Joey off at baseball practice and were driving back to our house along the lakefront. I pointed out a huge flock of what I thought were seagulls, flying in a long straight line. It caught my eye because I'd never seen seagulls fly in a line formation like that. As I got a little closer I was shocked at how big the seagulls appeared to be. Finally the birds were flying right over us and as I looked up I realized they weren't seagulls at all. They were PELICANS!!!!

Pelicans! In Wisconsin! I couldn't believe my eyes. I think I nearly crashed the minivan staring above me in disbelief. I slowed to a near stop and watched as the huge birds soared above us. There were dozens and dozens of the massive creatures.

And just like that they were gone. I didn't even have time to grab my travel camera from the glove box to sneak some pictures. 

When I got home and told Todd I think he thought I was losing my mind. To reassure him (and me) of what I saw I looked in my bird book and, sure enough, pelicans do sometimes pass through our area. As further proof of what I saw I noticed people taking to Facebook to report the bizarre sighting. Whew! I wasn't losing my mind! There are pelicans in Wisconsin!
Now all I have to do is figure out what kind of bird food to leave out in my backyard so I can add pelican pictures to my bird posts. Oh how I would LOVE to add pelicans to my bird photo repertoire. What do ya think? Dead fish? Might not be the best addition to the backyard.

(Pictures courtesy of the internet) 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Something New

In the past Father's Day was always about celebrating our own fathers. Todd and I would make our way over to our dads' houses and grill out, hand out some cards and gifts, and honor the fabulous fathers in our lives. 

Last year was the very first year that neither Todd nor I had a father here to celebrate with. It was new and raw. Last Father's Day was low key as we both struggled to find our new normal.

This year we decided to kick the day up a bit. 

I had been wracking my brain trying to think of something the whole family could do that Todd would also enjoy. After much deliberation I finally thought of a family outing to the ballpark. I checked the Brewers schedule and sure enough they had a home game on Father's Day, AND it was vintage bobblehead day! Perfect for the kids. 

I had considered ordering the tickets as a surprise for Todd but it is a rather large purchase and I wanted to be sure he was up for it. He was. And he also found some pretty perfect seats right behind the dugout. 

We didn't tell our kids the plan. Instead we kept it a secret. Even as we loaded them all in the car to head down to the Brewers game we still held our tongues about the surprise. I had secretly packed new t-shirts, their hats, and their baseball gloves in the car. We even brought along a huge cooler full of snacks for a little pregame tailgating but the kids are so used to me packing coolers (sheesh, my family is always eating) I don't think they thought much of it. 

The kids begged and pleaded to know where we were going but we didn't give in. Even when the kids pointed out the stadium we still kept quiet. By the time we actually were pulling into the gates and handing out their Brewers t-shirts the kids were thrilled with excitement. I think Father's Day still turned out to be a pretty lucky kids' day too.
Todd was thrilled to finally take his entire family to a Brewers game. The weather was hot and steamy but with a good strong wind to keep us from getting too hot.

Except for this one. He can't help but be hot. He is one of those hot daddies. Woohoo!
It was a great day (despite the disappointing game) finished up with a fantastic dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, La Fuente. Good stuff.

It was a great way to honor Todd, a fantastic man and father who we are so lucky to have in our lives, sharing in his love of sports and continuing the tradition that his father started with him so long ago. I think it was a great start to a new Father's Day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Dad

My dad worked third shift in a factory for over 30 years to provide for his family of 8. He would walk to work every night. Sometimes he would ride his bike. We had one family car that he would NEVER take to work (even in a blizzard) in the off-chance that my mom might need it in the morning to take us kids to school. He was a fierce protector of the underdog. He befriended all (except those SOBs that broke glass in the park and left it for innocent kids to step in). He was an avid outdoorsman and an inspired athlete. He was the life of the party, the ultimate comedian in his impersonations and jokes. He was an immensely talented singer (a crooner), a dancer, and a performer. He cut the grass, he grilled out, he fixed the fence (time and again- "stop climbing on the damn fence!"), he built a play tower, he took us camping, he killed the centipedes, he built the shed, he took us on motorcycle rides, he taught me how to change a tire and how to throw a spiral. I can remember how careful his giant hands were when he would gently wash my hair with my head hovering in the kitchen sink. When we were babies he rocked us, when we were scared he held us, when we were tired he carried us up to our beds. I remember faking sleep a number of times in my childhood just so he would carry me to bed. Not only did he tell us he loved us but he showed us as well. He was at every play, every concert, every game. He thought my sarcasm was hilarious, he encouraged my spunk, he was proud of my independence. He told me I was beautiful and smart and even though I couldn't believe the words he said them with such conviction that I knew he believed and that meant everything to me. He taught me how to love God and how to put my trust in Him. My dad was far from perfect, he had flaws, he was human, he made mistakes. But my dad will always be my hero. I miss him more than I can say.

 Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

 I love you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Back to Birds

This spring has once again afforded me the opportunity to do some quality bird watching. Over the last couple of years I have really taken notice of the beautiful variety of birds that come through our neck of the woods. I never knew we had so many vibrant, beautiful birds in this area and once I discovered them I was hooked on spying on the birds in my backyard. 

I try and make our backyard as desirable as I can. There are already plenty of trees but I also add four different types of birdfeeders (suet, thistle seed, wild birdseed mix, and hummingbird juice) and make sure that the birdbath is always clean and full of water. That seems to do the trick.

Our first little mister is a beautiful little Veery. At first glance I thought it was the Ovenbird that I've been forever trying to capture on film. I saw a flash of warm brown out of the corner of my eye and ran to grab my camera and zoom lens. I only got a few pictures, and most of them very blurry, before he flew away but I did manage to get one okay picture. I showed my bird expert (Joey) the picture when he came home from school and he said, "No mom. I don't think that is an Ovenbird. I think that is a Veery." And sure enough. He looked it up in my bird book and he was right. So here is the beautiful little Veery.
I was hoping to get clearer pictures of the beautiful Veery and kept my eye out in the backyard. I was sure I saw him again and grabbed my camera. When I took a closer look I was surprised to see that this time I caught the Ovenbird instead. Ha! I want the Ovenbird and I got the Veery. I wanted the Veery and I got the Ovenbird. It all worked out in the end. Here is the Ovenbird.
The Baltimore Oriole just passes through our area and is only here for a very short time. To tempt him to my backyard I put out a few oranges. It worked!
Mr. Oriole was happy to take advantage of my bribe and I was happy to get a few great pics.
He even caught my eye a couple times and let me snap away at him. With that gorgeous bright orange he must be used to all the attention.
It seems the oranges worked on a lovely little House Finch couple as well.
We have a plethora of Goldfinches flitting around our neighborhood. The males are such a shocking and vibrant yellow it always takes my breath away. I just had to get a shot of this male's bright yellow back contrasting the black and white wing feathers. So handsome.
Here we have two couples. Two males with two females all enjoying the thistle. Oh how the Goldfinches love their thistle!
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only type of hummingbird that we have in our area and luckily for me they are privy to our yard as well. Here we have a female actually sitting on the feeder. Usually the birds just hover and drink but she must have felt safe enough to sit for a while and rest her wings.
The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird is much more colorful than the female. Here he is taking a break on the feeder as well.
I got quite the shock when this male looked up and I zoomed in on him. The feathers on his neck looked more like a ruffled collar than a smooth band of color as I'd seen it before. It was breathtaking. Thank heavens for the zoom lens. Also not sure when he is called a Ruby-throated Hummingbird when he is clearly more golden yellow or orange. Either way, he is a beauty.
Next up we have a female Downy Woodpecker. She is intent on getting to that suet that she loves so much. The female looks almost identical to the male Downy Woodpecker except the bright red patch that the male has on the back of his head.
This mama Robin is clearly taking something back to her nest to help make it a little more comfy for her babies.
Maybe this was even this nest she was coming to. A beautiful robin's nest was right next to our front door. I tried to keep the kids away from it so mama didn't get too stressed out but every once and a while we had to go in and out of our front door. Mama and Daddy robin would stand watch from a few yards away letting out little chirps to warn us not to go any closer. But I did manage to get a shot of the four blue eggs safely nestled inside the wonderfully made nest.
We were even lucky enough to spy the babies as they had just hatched and watched them grow. Shortly before they left their nest I took another picture. I didn't want to get too close and scare the babies out of the nest before they were ready. The day after I took this picture I witnessed the birds testing out their wings. They took turns standing on the side of the nest flapping their wings. They practiced for two days and the next time I checked on them they were gone. Good thing, too, because they had definitely run out of room in that nest.
None too soon for mama, I'm sure. She was finally able to get in a bath and have a little "me" time instead of running back to the nest every five minutes with more food for her hungry babies. Job well done, mama!
This is the first time I ever saw this little fuzzball in my backyard. This beauty is a Gray Catbird. He is so soft and smooth looking and I fell in love with him immediately.
I am so happy I was able to get a few good pictures of this little guy because I haven't seen him in my backyard since. Cute lil fella. Thanks for stopping!
This stunning fellow is a Northern Waterthrush. I believe this is the first time I've seen him in my backyard as well. I'm not surprised he is here. They love running water and with Lake Michigan and a bunch of rivers right next to us I'm sure this is a perfect spot for him.
Seeing as how they eat mosquitoes and slugs I will be happy to welcome him back anytime. Keep up the good work!
And of course we have Mr. Radiant himself, the Indigo Bunting. I'm always surprised when I see one of these guys in my backyard because he looks so tropical in his glowing blue attire. Such a handsome lil thing. And he does a great job cleaning up under the feeders too. 

Thank you for humoring me in my birdie obsession. If you are not already on birdie overload feel free to check out my other birdie photos here, here, and here.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lil Graduate

Even though there are a few days of school left Grace's preK class had their graduation ceremony today.
Gracie's teachers did such an amazing job of making a big production of it. The kids sang 6 sweet and meaningful songs and had a beautiful slideshow of their year. And the treats afterwards were second to none. I know all the kids felt very special.
Gracie was so lucky to have the support of her three awesome big brothers. All three of them asked permission from their teachers to get out of class and watch Grace's graduation. I know that meant so much to Grace to have them there.
The whole morning was rather emotional for me. It is so easy for me to recall the boys' preschool graduations and my oldest will now be going into middle school. Yikes. Time flies by so quickly.
Congratulations, Grace! I'm so proud of you!

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson