Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Large Birds According to Our Neighbors (Also, some mostly unrelated ((and kind of old)) pictures of Will.)

On our walk this morning, we came upon our three neighbor children at the end of their driveway holding ice scrapers, the large kind with a brush on one end and the scraper on the other, and what I'm guessing were sawed-off broomsticks. They looked to be sweeping a puddle or poking something in the puddle when we approached and the following conversation happened:

Girl: Hello, neighbor!
Me: Hi!
Girl: Did you see that hawk over there? (I had seen that hawk; it was actually a large vulture/buzzard that had been feasting on a opossum for the last two days.) My brother told me that hawks can come pick you up and carry you away, so we're protecting ourselves with these. (My nieces were actually terrified to step outside our house because of a similar converstation they had with my dad.)
Me: That's smart. I've got my dog to protect us. (We all look at Lola, who wags her tail and licks her lips as if to say, "I've got this human to protect...can I kick you?")
Boy #1: Yeah, and we've got to protect our pond too...from the geese. (All three brandish their weapons.)
Me: (Having graduated from SIUE and having extensive knowledge of this) Yeah, geese are mean.
Boy #2: (brandishing) Yeah!
Boy #1: That hawk over there has been eating a opossum!
Girl: (simultaneously) One time, a goose stole my binky.
Boy #1: No, that was a swan. (Looking right at me.) When our cat died, a swan danced in the ashes.

The Wonderful Thing About Williams

...is that William's a wonderful thing.

He's a wonderful thing who declares he is done with a meal, refuses to eat another bite--will even try to toss his food to Lola if you are not watching--only to desperately grab at any morsel close enough and shove them in his mouth like a starved prisoner as soon as you try to wipe his hands and mouth and remove the tray.

He's a wonderful thing who giggles every time he sees Lola underneath the tablecloth or walking through the door to greet him after a nap and has started using her as a chair, carefully positioning himself between her front paws or by her belly and then leaning back his full weight into her.

He's a wonderful thing who sets goals and works hard to achieve them, lately seeking out any "short" steps so that he can try to step up and step down while standing up like a big boy... much to my terror.

He's a wonderful thing who eats a popscicle faster than anybody I know and loves to carry around and chew on ice but will not let ice cream anywhere near his mouth.

He's a wonderful thing who now not only kicks and dribbles any balls he sees but has also just recently started saying ball too.

And that's the thing. Each day reveals so many more and so many of the same wonderful things about William that I feel silly and sinful for worrying about the things that he is not doing or saying. Last week, I got an email with the subject line, "Warning Signs of Language Delay," that I let cause me much more stress than I should have. Although Will is a happy, physically precocious boy, who follows directions well, he wasn't really saying "mama" or "dada" regularly or pointing at things in the sky or shaking his head, all things the email listed as "warning signs" for a twelve-month-old. And even though in the week since that email, he's started saying "dada" more and can point out different animals in his books, he'd still be wonderful if he didn't do those things and if he did have a language delay or some other issue. He'd still be my wonderful thing, my pride and joy, the little boy that God entrusted to me to love and raise to serve Him and others. So the lesson for me here is the lesson I need to be reminded of over and over again: less time email/internet reading, no time worrying, and more Bible/prayer time. Less of the world and more of God and family.

Also, would you like this rock?

Walking in a Wonderland

You know how when you or someone you're close to buys a new car, and then suddenly, you see that car everywhere? It's like every tenth person went out that same day and bought a shiny new Buick Enclave and decided to drive it around at the same time as you are driving around your trusty (and a bit rusty) Jeep Liberty. And how you start to wonder if maybe you're in some psychological experiment or that maybe you're living your own version of The Truman Show, but then, in order to get through the day without being completely solipsistic, you tell yourself no, it's just an adjustment in your perception and awareness? That your brain is an amazing thing that blocks certain stimuli and emphasizes others throughout your day and just the very fact that you've taken an extra moment to look at something and talk about it and compliment your friend on their choice of SUV means you notice it more. And isn't that an even more amazing experience than being part of some secret experimental reality television show because what if it means you could control what you notice and don't notice to some greater extent? 

You know that experience? 

I keep having it with flowers. A few weeks ago with lilacs, and just in the last few days, with honeysuckle. They aren't just growing and blooming in my yard or along my morning walk route. They're growing and blooming everywhere I go right now, and I not only see them but really notice them and pay attention to them and remember the week during the summers that I used to spend at my grandparents in Southern Illinois, when my grandpa taught me how to harvest the sweet nectar from the honeysuckle and how I would then wander around their neighborhood looking for new bushes. And then I start wondering when I can teach William to do the same and IF I should teach William to do the same and make a mental note to Google honeysuckle and poison when I get home before scratching that mental note because, "I survived," a phrase I tell myself and Jason quite often. 
And then I look up and see what I suspect to be Columbine and remember my Grandma De and trips to Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park.
And then, I round a curve and see lots of other purple flowers and am in awe of God's timing, how when one flower seems to be done blooming, some others are just starting to bloom.

Every once in a while, I start to yearn for those paved concrete roads or dream of sidewalks to smooth our daily walks, but then I look up and a fox darts out of the woods or a red-headed woodpecker starts in on a nearby tree, and I have no problem with the gravel in my shoes or the mosquito bites on my ankles. I choose to focus on the peace and beauty, not because the pain and inconveniences don't exist, but because my mind is an amazing thing that is capable of making that choice and following through with it.

Also, for some reason this made me happy this morning.

Splish Splash

I think Will might have the best abs out of anyone in our family. And his passion for splashin'? Well, you can see for yourself. Next time, we'll approach the water table sans clothing. Diapers, hats, and sunscreen, that's it. Heck, maybe just hats and sunscreen are all that's needed because even though Piper and I approached the table with caution, Will was determined to get every last drop of water out whether it be on the ground, on himself, or on his cousin.
Piper was determined to save herself, but when that didn't work out, she settled for saving the water tower. Every other day or so, I catch part of the trailer for the new Godzilla movie and am not surprised by how closely it resembles my day to day life. Any other mamas out there feel me?
Also, check out all those teeth we've been working on. I think we're at ten, but in all honesty, he doesn't  hold still long enough for me to get a good look, and I've given up trying to count by sticking my finger in his mouth.

Chalk it Up

Oh, outside. We have big plans for you. Chalk was just the beginning. I just ordered this water table and these push-up ice pop molds. We're planning on heading to the Botanical Gardens and the Goshen Farmer's Market and the Strawberry Festival. And just wait until the pool opens! We've been practicing our splashing all Winter long. We're going to have so much fun, so many memories, and really good naps for the next few months. I can just feel it. I mean, just look at that second picture. Does it not just make you smile from the inside out? (They were chalking very manly things like cars... and flowers.)

What are your fun plans, activities, or tips for enjoying outside this spring? We'd love to hear them!

Also, you might think that hopscotch wouldn't go over so well with a one-year-old, but Will loved hopping... while being held in our arms. 


I often switch out crockpot meals in favor of the grill as soon as the weather gets a little warmer, but I recently took a chance on the new Sweet Korean BBQ Slow Cooker Sauce from Campbell's, and Jason and I can literally not get enough of this meal. Combine that with the fact that it's a little bit BBQ and a little bit spicy, and I'm pretty sure I will be using the crockpot all summer.

Like most crockpot meals, it's not rocket science, but the sauce packet makes this one so simple that William might even be able to throw this together for us if I let him have a go at it. As the label says, just throw the chuck roast (Get around a three pound roast. There is plenty of sauce, and you'll want leftovers!) and the sauce in the crockpot and turn on low for eight hours. After about eight hours, shred the beef (and we remove as much of the fat as we can.) Then, you have to make a decision. Tacos or rice bowls? If you bought a big enough roast you can have one the first night and the other the next. BUT for both, the magical ingredient is the ridiculously addicting sauce you are going to make with sour cream and sriracha. This is also pretty easy. Just mix the sour cream and sriracha to taste. We like ours pretty spicy. For RICE BOWLS, throw some rice in the rice cooker right before dinner. Cook up some broccoli or other favorite veggie and layer rice, veggie, bbq beef, and creamy sriracha sauce. For TACOS, layer tortilla, beef, cabbage with a little bit of lime juice squeezed in, and creamy sriracha sauce. Extra points for making homemade tortillas!

We love this meal so much (and it is so easy) that I went ahead and bought out our local store of all the sauce packets, just in case, because the last time we fell in love with a Campbell's product they discontinued it. So if anyone from Campbell's is reading this, please bring back Creamy Chipotle Skillet Sauce... or send me any remaining packets! See, Campbell's is in no way paying me to write this. I just really like this meal, and after serving it to my mom and my sister, they have both jumped on the Korean BBQ bandwagon, so I though you all needed to know about it too.
Also, that really is how you spell sriracha.
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