Thursday, June 28, 2012

Going to the Chapel

A week or so ago, Grace woke up early. REALLY early. I was still in the process of doing my hair and makeup and Grace is a bit slow to wake up so she just sat down on the bathroom floor - book in one hand and Lucky in her lap. I don't remember what book she was reading but she was really quiet. Thoughtful. Gently petting Lucky and talking sweetly to him. I remember thinking what a calm, peaceful way for us to both "get ready" for the day.

Ten or fifteen minutes passed and out of no where, Grace says matter-of-factly, "Mommy, I want to get married."

Her comment knocked my socks off. I was expecting something like, "I want breakfast!" or "Can we get doughnuts?" You know, questions I am mentally prepared for at 6 o'clock in the morning!

"Of course you do! Being married is fun!" is what I managed to muster up.

Taking it a step further..."Who do you want to marry?" I asked.

Looking up from dutifully petting Lucky, her eyes met mine and she said, "Daddy!"

Oh she is the sweetest.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I took this video about a month ago and finally getting around to posting it!
It cracks me up.
Every. Single. Day.
We ride "bikes" in the back yard.
I love how Charlotte 'pedals' and how she has to stop every 15 feet to pick up a rock and add it to her precious collection in her bike bucket.
You should see her zooming around these days...she has scabs on all her toes...AKA the brakes!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grace's First Ballet Recital

Grace had her first ballet recital this weekend! What an ordeal awesome event!

Last Tuesday was her dress rehearsal. I got a sneak peak at what's to come in future years if you sticks with ballet. Rehearsals stretching late into the night several nights the week before the show! And speaking of show, there were three of them! Two of which lasted over three hours! Luckily, the ballet teacher has wee ones of her own so she knows the "babies" can't endure that can't of schedule - nor can their cranky mothers - so Grace was able to get in and get out during the rehearsals. I did manage to video one of her dress rehearsal performances as I figured I wouldn't be able to video tape during the performance nor did I want to spend $30 on a video when her "role" was less than two minutes long!

Finally, the weekend of the big show! On Friday, there was evening performance. Kids had to be backstage at six with the performance starting at seven and not ending until well after 10 pm. Luckily, I had the foresight NOT to sign Grace up for that performance. We opted for the Saturday matinee performance. For about a month, I had been having heart burn about dropping Grace off in the green room at noon and not seeing her again until after 4 pm. I could just imagine what the green room would be like with over 50 ballerinas running around with little supervision. I asked the instructor for another option but wasn't given one. On the morning of the performance, I think I channeled my dad. There was never a time any of us kids were ever made to do anything that was wrong or unreasonable because we knew we had our dad in our corner. He was never out of line but he was never a push over. (A truly admirable and appreciated quality I might add!)

In my heart of hearts, I knew Grace couldn't be in the green room for that amount of time with that amount of strangers with that little of supervision. And in the scheme of life, this two minute dance performance was not worth putting Grace or myself in a compromising position. 

Luckily a friend of mine, who had three daughters performing in the recital, attended the Friday evening performance and tipped me off that the "babies" were going right after the intermission. So Grace sat with me and Mana during the first half of the show. At intermission, we headed back to the green room - which was NUTS! - she went own stage, danced her little heart out and then we left! It was perfect! All that worrying for nothing! Glad dear-old-Dad paved the way for not being a push-over parent. Thanks Dad!

Mana - that's what Grace calls her paternal grandmother for those of you who are wondering - bestowed upon Grace a pink carnation after the performance. Grace was elated! After a few hours at home, we headed back to the theater, for another performance albeit a condensed version. Just the "babies" and a few solo performances. This time, Daddy, Boppa and Charlotte got to watch. Again, Grace received a flower after the show. Grace did a great job! Dancing and smiling and just having FUN!! We are so, so proud of her!

We celebrated a fun successful ballet performance - a first for all of us! - by going out to dinner! Upon arriving home, the owls serenaded Grace by flying all over the yard. It was beautiful! A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Side note: I drove Grace to the matinee show. When we left the house, it was warm and sunny. She wore only her Lady Bug costume and her ballet slippers. I had on a white t-shirt and jeans. Upon arriving at the theater, it was a DELUGE! A deluge of biblical portions! Of course, I had to park a mile away so I wasn't sure how we were going to get into the theater in "one piece." We had no coats. No umbrellas. No nothing. Looking around my car, I noticed my dry cleaning bag. Inside, was an empty (clean) white plastic trash bag. I ripped three holes in it - for my head and arms and then tucked Grace inside with her head sticking out the head hole! We were a sight I tell ya! I wish I had gotten a picture of that!! Nothing like crazy, summer storms!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Owl and Friends

So as I was saying, it was dusk. Mr. Owl started flapping his wings at the entrance of his hole. We figured he would take to flight and that would be that!

After a few minutes of flapping, he started climbing up the tree using his beak and talons to dig into the side of tree. About four feet above the entrance to his "house", there is a flat area. I like to call it the launch pad. After reaching the launch pad, he sat there a few more minutes, limbering up his wings. Suddenly, he threw himself into the air and hopped/flopped to the neighboring tree. It looked anything but graceful. In fact, it almost looked as if this little guy was learning to fly!

Definitely couldn't be "our" owl! The owl that wound up in our living room last week, when finally given the chance to fly away, soared quickly, confidently - like he'd been doing it for some time. We watched our new friend hop, flop and flap from branch to branch and limb to limb. He was definitely a newbie!

For some reason, I looked back at the hole and what do I see? Another owl climbing out of the hole and up to the launch pad! TWO OWLS!! From the launch pad, owl number two launched himself into the neighboring tree and followed the route of his "hole-mate"through the branches.

We are mesmerized by the owls! Giddy with excitement that we have "National Geographic" going on outside our living room window. There may have even been a discussion about acquiring some sort of night vision camera! Again, let me reiterate, we were excited! So excited that we almost missed the THIRD owl scampering out of the hole and up to the launch pad!

Charlotte was fast asleep at this point and in all of our excitement, we must have alerted Grace - in her room - that something was going on. She sauntered out to join us and we quickly pointed out the three owls to her! We all watched them bounce around in the trees for quite some time.

Feeling pretty lucky that we had three owls in our backyard, you can imagine our great surprise when a fourth owl crawled out of the hole and joined his brothers and sisters frolicking in the night. Four owls! Woo hoo!!

Just as we think things are winding down for the evening, the owls being harder and harder to track as the sky gets darker and darker, another owl pops out of the hole! FIVE OWLS!

We have five owl friends making their home in our backyard! Just another reason, we love living in the country!

In the mornings, when we wake up, one of the owls is always in the entrance of the hole - "standing guard." He always makes eye contact with me as I watch, drinking my coffee.

Throughout the day, there is usually an owl at the entrance...but over the last fews days I've noticed that by lunchtime - and throughout the afternoon - all the owls tuck themselves far and away inside their cavern of a hole. Only after dinner, do they start appearing again!

We have yet to see them all venture out of their hole again. Not because they aren't venturing out but because we've gone to bed before they start shaking and baking for the evening!

So anyway, that is our exciting late-breaking owl news! I plan on doing a lot of owl watching and I plan on doing a thorough search of Barn Owls on Google! I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 11, 2012

You'll Never Believe It: The Follow Up

Folding laundry over the weekend, something keep catching my eye outside. 

Outside the window where I was folding clothes are several large trees FULL of birds. I figured some little bird was flitting by or something. 

The trees are really spectacular. One of my favorite things about our house actually. Large and full of knobby branches and holes like the this one...where you imagine an old wise owl to live. 

Upon a closer look into the trees, I saw what had originally caught my eye.
Do you see it?

Yep, our little friend from Friday morning!
Alive and well in the tree outside our living room window. 

Charlotte was napping when I made this discovery so I showed only Grace. We proceeded to watch and photograph Mr. Owl for the next hour!

Upon Court's arrival home later that day, we showed him. All evening we kept checking on the owl and he was still there. Clearly as curious about us as we are about him!

At dusk, we REALLY tuned in to watch the owl. Owls being nocturnal and all we thought we might get a glimpse of him taking to flight!

You didn't believe what we woke up to last week, you'll never believe what we watched unfold Saturday night!

Come back tomorrow and I will fill you in!

Friday, June 8, 2012

You'll Never Believe This

Earlier this week, Court kept saying he heard noises coming from the fireplace. I completely dismissed him. What could possibly be in the fireplace?

Again and again, he kept saying he heard a something - a bird - to be precise. Finally, a few days later, I heard it too!

We immediately got a flash flight and started looking up the dark chimney. We didn't know what to do. How do you get a bird out of a chimney? Better question, how does a bird get into a chimney?

We decided to adjust the flue in a way that might allow the bird to escape into the empty fireplace. We pulled the chain 'fencing' closed so our 'friend' wouldn't be able to fly all around the house and hoped for the best.

The next evening, Court, hearing the bird again, decided to check on our 'little friend.' This time Court saw the bird! The bird was perched in an awkward way and if persuaded a bit in a certain direction, could be freed. So up went a poker into the flue, into the chimney to do some 'persuading'.

The poker did nothing but frighten poor 'Tweety Bird' back into the depths of the chimney. We were certain that he had fallen down behind the flue doors and we both realized that this was probably the end. How was a tiny bird, who hadn't had food or water in days, going to get himself out from under the ledge and then up and over the flue doors into the fireplace?

I was going to be gone all the next day but on my to do list? Call a chimney sweep! {In my head, I couldn't help but sing Chim-Chimery Chim Chim Cheroo...oh they don't make music like that anymore, do they?} In one last final attempt, we repositioned the flue in hopes that it would allow our little friend to escape.

Fast forward to this morning. The sun is just beginning to rise. Court is up, showered and buzzing about the house. I try to put myself back to sleep because for the first time in a loooong time, I have nothing on the agenda! {Suma-Summa time! Suma-time! I sing a lot in my head!}

Next thing I know, Court is standing beside me with a huge grin on his face! "Our little friend escaped...he's out of the chimney!" I'm groggy but I quickly get up. I walk out to the kitchen thinking I'm going to find a little sparrow hopping about and excited to reunite Tweety with the outside world.

Just as I reach the kitchen, I notice a LARGE, BLACK silhouette against our bay window in the living room. The sun is just coming up so the house is dark and the dawn is just breaking. The large, black object is completely out of place and I stop dead in my tracks. It swivels it's head like the chick possessed by the devil in The Exorcist to look at me and then...

I realize it is a huge, white, scary as all hell looking owl. AN OWL!! AN O-W-L! I have an owl in my living room!!!! Not only has the owl escaped from his sure to be tomb in the chimney, he has managed to get himself to the other side of the room and has perched himself on a ledge by our front door. Did he fly? Did he walk? How did we not hear this happen? How did our dogs not alert us to danger?

I didn't scream but I definitely panick as flashes of Man vs Wild came screeching across my brain (much like an angry screeching owl!). I retreat to the bedroom.

Both girls are still asleep. Thank God! Can you even imagine? But we still have a BIG owl in our LIVING room! As we discuss what to do next, the owl takes destiny in his own wings and flies into the window. Birds don't understand windows and we have birds careen into it ALL THE TIME! In fact, a few years ago, a small, baby, cute-as-a-button owl flew into our window (outside of course) and knocked itself silly. It sat on our porch in a stone-cold stupor for about five or six hours. Eventually, he flew away. (It couldn't be the same owl all grown up now, could it??!)

So the owl INSIDE our house goes flying into the window and falls to the floor. Now what?

The owl now sits about 10 feet from our front door. We NEVER use our front door. In fact, we pile up all the large toys - rocking horse, hopping ball, shopping cart, etc. in front of the door to get things out of the way. So the plan is for Court to go outside, unlock the front door from the outside and lure the owl outdoors. That should be easy enough, right?

Court is not quite ready to go outside. He needs a jacket and socks and shoes. It's raining and chilly and he probably needs some sort of armor in case he does get into some sort of physical altercation with the owl. It probably took Court less than five minutes to get himself ready for battle. But to me, it felt like an eternity. It must have felt that way to the owl too because before I can say Harry Potter, the owl has hopped across the floor - away from the front door - up onto the ledge of the fireplace, back through the chain fencing around the fireplace...and yes, folks...our owl friend is back in the fireplace! Not the chimney. The fireplace!

Court cautiously unlocks and opens the front door. He moves the toys and dining table out of the path of the owl. He kind of creates a little wall with our furniture so the owl only has one way to run fly. My mind is racing. Court has to leave in just a matter of minutes...he has to return his mom's car, which I borrowed the day before (long story - will explain later) so she can catch a plane! What am I going to do with two girls and an owl in the house?!?!

Heavy in thought, panic and disbelief, I see Court outside again fumbling around by the pool. He returns seconds later with a pool skimmer. He lowers the long rod so as not to frighten the poor owl who is now hopping up and down TRYING to get back into the chimney. With the fire poker, Court slides the chain fencing to the side so that there is nothing between us and the owl. Slowly, slowly, slowly, Court sticks the pool skimmer into the fireplace. He gently nudges the owl out from the corner of the fireplace, into the middle of the fireplace, then out on the ledge surrounding the fireplace. The owl is scared. He looks straight at Court and gives the most menacing, devil-like look, then turns his head and shudders in fear. This pattern repeats several times. Finally, the owl flops back down onto the floor. He spreads his wings awkwardly. Probably to maintain balance, possibly to make himself look more threatening but it also looks like one of his wings might be hurt.

Throughout all of this, I tried taking pictures with my iPhone as my other camera wasn't handy. Here is the only picture I got, but a picture I did get! Would you ever believe this story if there wasn't a picture to prove it?!

Moments later, Court was able to get the owl out the door. Immediately, without hesitation, the bird upon realizing it was outside took off and flew away. His wings obviously weren't hurt.

Needless to say, this went pretty smoothly. I mean who wakes up to an owl in their living room? Who has a playbook for that? But it could have been so much worse! Our bedroom doors are a matter of a few feet from the living room and they were all open. Can you imagine waking up to an owl in your bedroom?

Kiwi, our parrot, was perched on top of her cage. The starving owl could have had Kiwi for breakfast.

And what if our bark-at-everything-but-anything-of-significance dogs had seen the owl? They were both in our bedroom but neither are morning dogs so we were able to lock them in the bedroom before they even had a chance to realize what was going on. But what if the dogs had seen the owl? Started barking? Scared the owl into taking flight around the house? CAN. YOU. IMAGINE?

Way to go Court! You just earned yourself a waaaay better Father's Day gift than what I had originally planned.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Big Sister, Little Sister
Best Forever Friends
Big Sister, Little Sister
A Love That Never Ends