Children, Say Hello to Ladybird

BIRDHOMEA couple years ago I wrote a post about our feathered guest. Well, after a one year hiatus, apparently Ladybird found love again.  
Yes, Ladybird has returned to the bush outside of our home and turned it into her maternity ward.
For 3 years straight, my family and I have been hosting an uninvited guest. This guest comes to our home and stays for weeks at a time. Not only that, this guest goes through a major life cycle event each visit.
Each spring the 7-foot bush that stands right next to our front door turns into a delivery ward as “Ladybird” (my children named her) builds her nest, lays her eggs, sits atop her eggs, hatches her babies, cares for her babies, and ultimately sends her babies away. The whole process seems to take about six weeks. This scene has served as an up-close Discovery Channel program for my family, and we love it.
With great excitement and anticipation, my children follow Ladybird and her flock (this year she laid three blue eggs). They peek their heads around to check out the progression of nature each time they pass the tree.
Clearly, Ladybird did not select our house for the peace and quiet. My wife takes pictures of each stage. I give out cigars when the babies are born to celebrate the blessed day.
Well, maybe not, but there is a palpable energy in our home when Ladybird’s chicks are hatched. This is the closest my wife and I will come to extending our family, and the closest my children have got to a pet.
I’m not sure how many more years Ladybird will be using our home as her nursery. This year Ladybird was later than usual. She also flew away anytime someone walked past her nest. This begs the question – where is her maternal instinct? Also, what about a father? Would it kill him to stop hunting for worms and check up on his family?
Well, I do not know much about birds and am not an animal person by nature. But Ladybird has become a part of my family experience, and taught us a bit about nature. We look forward to having her come back in the future, and the best part is we don’t have to prepare or clean up.
What a guest!

Why I Choose A Broken Doorknob

Doorknob on a red door.

How long will that doorknob stay secured?

I’m eight years old. I pick myself up from the living room floor.

I’ve been looking at the ceiling too many times.

I want to make it to the dining room, but my desire has nothing to do with hunger.

My brothers and I are playing goal line stand. H&M (no, not the store, but my two oldest brothers) stand in the five-foot-wide gap that separates the living room and dining room.  N (my next older brother) and I take turns trying to get past my brothers.

We jump. We run. We dive.

You see, it’s first and goal at the one. And N and I are determined to do our best Wilbert Montgomery impersonation and score a touchdown.

Every once in a while H&M let us score. It is thrilling for me.

Believe it or not, getting thrown down by my older brothers — who at that point were nearly a foot taller than me and 50 pounds heavier — was So Much Fun.

I would have been happy to play that game every day.

My parents did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did. After all, their four sons were playing football in the house. This is not exactly a typical indoor activity. But being the parents of four boys, you know things in the house will get broken at some point.


I was on the bus and nearly home. “Hey BR.  What’s up?”

“Um. SJ  broke the doorknob.”


“SJ broke the doorknob.”

“Which one?”

“The one that goes from the den to the kitchen.”

“How did that happen?”

“He ran up the stairs and grabbed it and it fell right off and now it’s broken.”

“Why was he running?”

“I don’t know.”


“Well, he was on the computer and I wanted to go on the computer.”

“So you chased him?”


“He’s okay.”



“And, he broke the door handle.”

“Okay, I’ll speak to him when I get home.”




And then I went back to reading the paper.

You see on the richter scale of house destruction, a broken door knob is near the bottom. It’s just below knocking over the lamp and breaking a light bulb and just above chipped paint.

In other words, a broken doorknob is a minor inconvenience and the price of doing business.

What business you may be wondering? Well, it’s the business of raising boys.

If I were to get upset at every nick, scratch, and mark, my boys made there would not be enough blood pressure in the world to keep my heart from bursting through my chest. By the way, did you notice that two words for minor destruction also are boy’s names?  You’ll be happy to know that my blood pressure is low.

While I did talk to SJ about the doorknob when I got home, I have no grand expectations that things will change. Instead, I accept the boys being boys – rough-housing, destruction, and rowdiness. Either that or get rid of my boys.

Which would you choose?

photo credit: <a href=””>AlwaysBreaking</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

Old House, New House

Today I have a guest post from a blogger whom I have been following for a while. No, I don’t mean in the stalker way. That blogger is Jessie Clemence, a talented writer. I look forward to her posts as her range of topics is so diverse. However, she often comes back to sharing bits of her odd self.

Jessie blogs from southwestern Michigan, where she lives with her husband and two children. She writes about parenting, marriage, and faith, all from a slightly nutty perspective. She has written a book on motherhood and faith titled There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse, which will be released on March 2, 2013.

When our daughter was a baby, my husband and I bought our first house. The three of us moved into the tiny little farmhouse and were happy as clams for several years. Never mind that the washer and dryer were in the kitchen, European-style. Never mind that the basement was perfect for a horror movie, or that the stairs wound upward in a spiral, too tight to fit much furniture and terribly dangerous for toddlers. We made it work. We even had our second child and tucked him into the cozy space with us. Really, babies don’t need much space. Their clothes are tiny, they have itty-bitty shoes, and they are happy to snatch all the toys their siblings already own.
But when our son turned about four, things became overwhelming. Suddenly he had big versions of everything his sister already had. We found ourselves with multiple pairs of snow boots, snow pants, and winter coats. Toys spilled out of tiny bedrooms and covered the living room floor. Books covered every horizontal surface. Our stuff, even the stuff we needed to live, was smothering us. The children grew physically, and their friends with them. Having a group of kids over was like trying to fit a pack of dinosaurs into an elementary gymnasium. The floor shook, and the walls vibrated.
We hit our limit this past summer and made drastic plans. We had a new house built and rented out the old one. I am deeply grateful for every inch of this new house. The lovely basement has carpet, sun-filled windows, and space to shoo the children when they get rambunctious. We can have a sleepover for ten girls with room to spare if I ever get up my nerve for such a thing. A bubble of giddiness wells up every time I go to the utility room with a load of laundry. I no longer have to worry that the cookies will be infected by dirty socks somehow.
And yet, there are things about our tiny old house that sneak up and surprise me with longing. I miss the way the cement of the front porch felt on my bare feet when the summer sun warmed it up. I miss the bathroom window that I used to crack open for fresh air, even in the cold of January. Come spring, I will long for the beautiful, fertile dirt of my old flower gardens. I lived with those small blessings for so long that they worked their way into me somehow, and now I find myself without them.
Well, I guess I’m not really without them. I can still remember what they felt like, and being thankful to have experienced them means I still have them in some fashion. And I know that as I live in this new house over the years I will grow attached to it. I will work the dirt, I will feel the fresh air through the windows, and it too will become part of me. I pray my heart will always be tender enough to let new things become a part of me, and grateful for the things that are already there.

Making My Way Home

On a brisk grey Tuesday afternoon. A packed New Jersey Transit bus number 164 made its way to the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. I glanced up and took note of the people standing – sorry for them but happy that to not be among their ranks. It had been a typical day of work for me – frustrations, battles, and maybe some small victories and learning. I was anxious to get home.
As I settled down, I turned back to the day’s distractions. I had a book and my phone. I typed in WordPress and began blogging away – reading, commenting, and responding.
Moments later the bus stopped– traffic back up. Yuck. I glanced at my watch. 4:05. Okay, I reasoned, decent time so far. Let this clear up quickly, and I can still make it home on time. Back to blogging.
Finally, the bus picked up speed, and we got off the New Jersey Turnpike and on to Route 80. Time check – 4:10. Okay, we are definitely late. Damn – I’ll have to make lunch after we pick up BR at karate. As long as we can get BR’s homework started by 6:15, otherwise heavy duty negotiations will be needed to keep him on track.
Full stop. Uh-oh. I looked out the window. This was not good. I called my wife who was still in the city.
“Call E (babysitter), and see if she can take them to karate.”
I called.
“Big favor to ask of you. Can you take the boys to karate? Traffic is backed up, and I am not sure if I am going to make it.”
“No problem.”
“Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“Sure. Will you meet me there like last time?”
“I don’t know. I can’t say with this traffic. It doesn’t look good. Let me call you back in a little while when I have a better idea.
Five minutes later and little movement.
“Hi. It’s L. Yeah, this really doesn’t look good. Would you mind taking the boys and bringing them back from karate? I have no idea when I will be home.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“I really appreciate your flexibility.”
Various home schedules depending on arrival time ran through my head. I picture it a rapidly moving rolodex.

It was 5:18 when I finally walked in the door. The kids would not be home for another twenty minutes. Alone time. In my home. Did anyone else hear the angels sing halleluljah? No, I didn’t fall on my bed, blast the music, or run around naked. I did consider all those options but the rolodex turned to productivity. I got dinner started, made my lunch for the next day, set out my clothes for work, and ran the boys’ bath. Deep sigh – enjoy moment of quiet.
Then the storm hit.
“Where were you? “Why were you late? Why didn’t you come to karate? What’s for dinner? Did you leave the computer on?”
I barked back, “Dinner is being made, put your jackets in the closet, and take your shoes to your room. And go up take a bath.”
“Why do we have to take a bath now? We haven’t even eaten yet. We take a bath after dinner.”
“Change of schedule. Bath first and then dinner.”
“No buts.”
“We are already off schedule, and I don’t want a late night.”
BR, already stripped down to his underwear as he had removed his Karate uniform, said fine. He pulled off his underwear and headed to the bathroom. He presented the full monty.
“Wait till you get to the bathroom next time.”
I looked over at E (the babysitter) and tried to laugh it off, “Sorry about that. You know – kids.”
“SJ you have to go to.”
“Fine,” he whined. He walked up the steps and removed his underwear, affectively mooning E and me.
Great. I have two exhibitionists.
I turned to E, “Well, I um. He’s. Uhh. Well.” Shaking my head, I finally became coherent, “I don’t even know what to say about that.”
With a laugh and good night, E left me with my soon to be clean free spirits. It was nice to be home.