Category Archives: Babies & Kids

Just in case you happen to be wondering if today’s the day…

Isn’t this wild? If you are sitting around waiting and wondering if today is the day your labor will start, have fun!¬† Oh, by the way, the spectrum runs from dark green (low chance) to yellow (medium) to red (high).


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More than You Ever Wanted to Know about Vultures

Amazing how you find yourself doing things for your kids you never thought you’d do.

Yesterday, I found myself throwing my laundry basket over a stunned turkey vulture in our yard. Yep. Commonly known as a buzzard. Bald, red head. Big.

I also found myself becoming genuinely concerned for the little guy (or gal) as the day passed. I’ll digress for a moment. My son is bird lover and for the past few months we have immersed ourselves in learning about birds. If you ever get a chance to see The Life of Birds series, a BBC production, do it! It is hosted by the charming, elderly David Attenborough. You will find yourself absolutely stunned by God’s providence for the birds. His careful attention to the tiny but crucial details in a bird’s life will make you realize how big His hand is in ours. Truly, “His eye is on the sparrow…” So, after a few months of study, I too have become hooked on birds.

Now, back to Viking. (So named by my son.) We really didn’t think Viking was going to live. When we found him, his eyes were closed and he alternated between quivering and lying stone still. After placing the basket over him to protect him from any passing cats or dogs, we left the house for a few hours. When we came home, my son excitedly reported he was standing up with his eyes open. “And someone fed him some raw meat!” Huh? I walked over to Viking and thought surely my son was wrong about the health report. Flies were buzzing all around the basket. A vile stench permeated the air. But, sure enough, there was a bright eyeball looking at me through the basket. A little pile of something¬†vaguely raw meatish was at his feet.

Okay, time to check this bird out. No, I did not lift the basket. Instead, I ran to the computer and found this nifty little site: The Vulture Society. Yes, my first thought was “A Vulture Society? I guess there is a society for everything.” But after reading about the lowly vulture, I really appreciate the little guys. They are clean birds. Their digestive juices are so acidic that their excretions are actually sanitizing. They excrete on their own legs to clean off the bacteria picked up from standing on carrion. Their heads, which necessarily have to poke and prod decaying flesh, are featherless, helping to again resist bacteria. They can soar without flapping for 6 hours. And, of course, they clean up the countryside of dead animals.

Why did ours stink so bad? One of their only defenses is to vomit up partially digested meat. This would send just about anybody packing.

When Viking started to move the basket around and stick his beak through the slats, trying to get out, I walked over to him to lift the basket. He hissed. I backed away. Hmmm, do vultures attack when scared? I hadn’t thought about that when I threw the basket over him.

Time to ask an expert. We found the phone number online of a rescuer. She instructed me to lift the basket from his backside and back away quickly. Yes ma’am. I’ll do that. Leaving my kids inside, armed with the cell phone, I feigned nonchalance and walked over to the basket (my kids were watching!), picked up a long stick, lifted the basket, and quickly backed up.

He didn’t move.

My “vicious” vulture sat there quietly and I was afraid that he was sick after all. I walked back inside, feeling quite like the wildlife rescuer in spite of my fear that things were not going to go too well. We watched him and over the hour, he began preening, stretching his wings, and finally, he flew home to the colony perched in the tall palms lining my street. We all cheered.

My son spent the evening watching the vultures soar above our yard. He was sure that Viking was rocking his wings in thanks. I love happy endings.


Filed under Babies & Kids, Giving Thanks, Homeschooling, Thoughts

Book Review: Baby by Patricia MacLachlan

My 10 year old tossed Baby by Patricia MacLachlan at the end of her bed last night. “That was sad” was her only comment.

Having an attraction to “sad” books, I immediately grabbed it and began reading it while putting my toddler to sleep. I stayed there until I finished. When I finished my side was numb and I had tears running down my face. What a beautiful book.

Patricia MacLachlan has a rare gift among storytellers. She writes stories poetically. I don’t mean she uses poetic phrases, as so many good authors do, but she composes poetically. She turns simple words, that could be read by any second grader, and makes a story that reads like one big poem. Each word is savored, never wasted. The wonderful thing is that readers none too fond of poetry would never have guessed that they just read a poem disguised as a story.

Baby (1993, Delacorte Press) might be my favorite among her stories. The author is probably best known for Sarah, Plain and Tall. Even non-readers may be familiar with the Hallmark movie version of the story. That book, although poetically written, translates well into a dramatic reproduction. Baby would not work so well.

Baby is about words and the power of words and the destruction in lives when words are withheld. Like a good layer cake, it is also about loss, pain, cycles, giving, and healing.

Twelve-year-old Larkin lives with her mom and dad on an island year round. The story opens at the end of summer, as the last summer ferry carries the tourists away until the next summer. One little island “guest” is left behind at Larkin’s home. An almost year old baby, Sophie, has been left by her mother with a note attached telling the family that “I will come back for her one day.” Sophie becomes the catalyst which brings about healing in Larkin’s family.

As the family takes in Sophie, they uncover the pain surrounding the loss of Larkin’s newborn brother, “Baby,” six months prior. Larkin’s parents never talk about him, never named him, and through their silence have isolated each other from themselves and from their daughter. The story unfolds beautifully as Larkin’s family cycles through fear of love, love for Sophie, then once again has to face loss again, when Sophie’s mother returns in the spring to claim her. During the story, Larkin discovers poetry and how words are “wondrous” and powerful, and through this power Larkin and her family find their way back from loss and pain.

Baby speaks powerfully to foster care, too. Larkin’s grandmother, with foresight, has the following conversation with Larkin:

“This is not meant to be easy,” she said, “It is a very important thing to do, for Sophie and especially for your mother and father. But it will not be easy. Do you understand?”

I understood. I did. I knew that what she meant was what Papa had said. Sophie was not ours. Someday she would go away. Another thing to miss.

“Why is it important?” I asked her…

“It is important, Larkin, because we are giving Sophie something to take away with her when she goes.”

“What?” asked Lalo [Larkin’s friend]. “What will she take with her?”

“Us,” said Byrd firmly.

“And what will we have when she’s gone?” I asked .

Byrd is silent. It takes the rest of the book for Larkin to have her answer.

I had a wonderful conversation this morning with my daughter about the book and the power of words. We were reminded of how God spoke world into being and how Jesus is called the Word made flesh. Words are ordained by our Creator to hold power…power to heal and soothe, and also power to hurt. MacLachlin’s book addresses how the absence of words can be just as harmful as the ill-used word and what blessings may flow when words are used to heal.


Filed under Babies & Kids, Book Reviews, Homeschooling, Words and Writing

Color-blind vs. Color-blessed

I hope this works! I’ve managed to shift my sick baby (see last post) to where I can use both hands. I only hope it lasts!

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ever since I heard MLK’s quote years ago, I was determined to be color-blind. Of course I wanted for all people to be judged by the content of their character…why on earth would their skin color matter? So I tried never to notice the color of people’s skin, thinking this was the proper thing to do.

Easier said than done.

It wasn’t until I sat through a Beth Moore study that I realized why this is…duh!…God gave us eyes and well, we notice things. We notice that one neighbor is covered with red freckles, another is swathed in skin the color of coffee with cream, and yet another is so translucent, you could count every blood vessel in her body!

In the study, she summed up my whole ridiculous notion of being color-blind, in her usual funny way. We stammer, we stumble, we back pedal, all in trying to avoid naming a race, or admitting that we noticed a person is black, brown, or whatever. Here on the Texas border, I hear people say “See the Spanish waitress over there? Could you get her attention?” I promise you that there is not a Spanish waitress around for miles and miles. It is just that in our effort not to notice, we just get all tied up, and end up using the nearest ridiculous phrase available. In many cases, by avoiding the more accurate description, as in the Spanish waitress case above, we inadvertently turn the real term into a perceived derogatory one.

What phrase Beth introduced to me was “color-blessed.” Ahah! I loved it! What a relief! A phrase to fit reality. A God-honoring phrase. A people-honoring phrase. When we are color-blessed, we can live into the reality that we are all made a little different and hallelujah, how beautiful it is!

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as we enter into the whole new world of adoption. I get excited thinking about our family being color-blessed, should God choose to bless us that way. It makes me remember another phrase from MLK’s speech:

“…one day … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”




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I guess the disadvantage to formally learning to type…

…is that I’m awfully impatient typing with one hand. My other hand is holding my sick toddler, as it has been doing since Thursday!! I’ve been writing posts in my head for days now but I can’t stand the hunt and peck. It makes me feel all “scribbly” inside, in the words of my 7 y/o.

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I once heard a positive spin on fighting among siblings…it is an act of cooperation. I suppose this is how my children have honed a skill that I find hilarious. One chirps up and they follow in birth order, like little descending organ pipes. This was last night’s example, completely spontaneous and without missing a beat:

10 y/o (from girls’ bedroom): Mom! Come on! Let’s read! Swiss!

7 y/o (from his bedroom): Family!

5 y/o (from my side in liv. room): Robinson!

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S*x, vaccines, and consequences

NOTE: S*x is spelled such to reduce unwanted traffic.

Merck has certainly been busy in Texas. Why wouldn’t they? When they stand to make $360/shot for a three shot series on all Texas girls entering the 6th grade, I imagine they are now rejoicing over the precedence Texas has established in requiring this vaccination.

Our governor, Rick Perry, has generally been known to be a pro-life, family values centered politician. I wonder what on earth compelled him Friday, a convenient day for any hot-button issue, to release an executive order requiring the vaccine. This means that he has by-passed the legislature and the order cannot be reversed unless he or a subsequent governor chooses to do so. (I think this law was passed down from the Medes and Persians…)

What is this vaccine that has me so outraged? Merck and Perry seem to believe that girls (and boys) have no control over their s*xual impulses and if we do not vaccinate our children for the s*xually-transmitted disease called human papilloma virus, or HPV, Texas will single-handedly be responsible for any cases that develop. HPV, by the way, is responsible for causing cervical cancer, an undeniably horrible disease. The vaccine is called Gardasil, and will now be a requirement beginning in September 2008.

I guess that Gov. Perry did not want to chance placing this topic before the Texas legislature, which would certainly be influenced by parents and concerned citizens who actually believe that our children CAN be taught right from wrong, CAN intelligibly understand that there are dire consequences to our actions, and WILL be influenced by the “well, they are going to do it anyway…” kind of thinking.

I am not faulting Gov. Perry for his earnest desire to prevent this dreadful disease, but it is yet one more step towards Gomorrah. Why do we possibly want to make it easier to put our girls at risk for even more s*xually transmitted diseases, emotional abuse, pregnancy, and all of the complicated, life-affecting factors that accompany early s*xual activity? Why not spend the money educating parents about the consequences of s*xual activity in their children? Smoking and drug abuse campaigns have actually learned that children do listen and heed their parents when they actually speak frankly together. This may make parents more uncomfortable and force a little conversation between parent and child, but that would certainly prove beneficial to everyone.

Since I believe that people can actually be influenced by information and education, I intend to register my comments with Gov. Perry. I urge you to do the same. He can be reached at


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