Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Fine Example of a Walking Bean

When I was a little kid, we used to take frequent car trips from Minnesota to Utah. It's kind of a boring drive, with little to capture a child's imagination for most of the way. One of the few things that I would get excited about seeing were oil pumps, especially working ones. For some incomprehensible reason, as a four-year-old I christened these interesting devices "walking beans." The name stuck and my family has called them walking beans ever since. The ones that are working are said to be "walking" and the ones that are just sitting there are "not walking." It's really weird, I know, but one thing I like about my family is that we showed respect to each other even when we were little by not ridiculing such strange language but adopting it into the family vernacular. If little Birrd called it a walking bean, then a walking bean it was.

So last January as I left the mountains and headed out onto the prairie with my own little flock of small critters I introduced them to walking beans. They love them. They love to spot them out the windows of the car and look to see if they're walking or not. I enjoy looking for them too. As far as machines go, they're kind of enchanting little things, the way their heads bob up and down.

My part of the prairie is full of them. Here's one we saw the other day:

And yes, it was walking.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Little Toad on the Prairie

I asked Shannon how the mosquitoes were at her house in the country this year.

"I hardly see any," she told me, "because of the toads."


"Yeah, Toads. They're everywhere, all over our yard. When Shane runs the lawnmower, you see them hopping out of the way all over the place. We've got dozens of toads. I think I've only seen three mosquitoes this year since the toads came out."

"Can I see one?"

"Yeah, just look in any damp, shady spot around my house. Like by the air conditioning unit. And at night they all come out and sit on the driveway. I don't know why, but at 9 pm my driveway is covered with toads."

I had to go see. So I went over to the air conditioning unit. Sure enough, there was a toad.

He was about the size of my fist. I caught him and brought him in the house to show the kids. He felt dry and bumpy and squirmy, so I loosened my grip a little. Next thing I knew, he was flying down Shannon's stairs. I chased him up and down the stairs for a bit before I caught him and returned him to the air conditioning unit.

Then I took his picture. Look at it again. Do you think he looks traumatized?

Poor guy. After that I told the kids they could go out and look for toads and they were welcome to catch any they wanted except that one. He'd had enough for one day.

As we were leaving Shane and Shannon's it was nine pm and sure enough, the toads were coming out onto the driveway. They like the flood light because it means good eating. They didn't really like my kids chasing them all over the place, but they were good sports about it.

Bean never did catch one, though he tried pretty hard. As we were leaving he asked Shannon if he could come back and see her toads again.

"Anytime," she replied.

He's begging me to go back there today. I'm tempted.

I love toads.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to Get Up on Top of a Hay Bale

You've got to run at it and take a flying leap.

Life looks good from on top of a hay bale.


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A Garage Full of Chickens

Shane and Shannon, our friends who live in the country, recently got a whole bunch of chickens. They are currently living in their garage.

I don't think I've ever been around half-grown chickens before. It's interesting to see the way their coloring is developing.

They live right alongside the rabbits and they all seem to get along just great.

They won't be in the garage much longer though. Shane is building them a coop and yard out by his horse pasture. By the time they move out there, hopefully they will be starting to lay eggs. And hopefully Shane and Shannon will remember that they said we could have some of the eggs!

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Little Roo on the Prairie

Sunday as I was getting the kids ready for church Roo's froofy pink dress was dirty so I found a denim jumper and this shirt buried in a box in her closet. It turned out to be a darling outfit. She and I both loved it. And it looks so very prairie, so I left it on her when we went out to our friends' house in the country Sunday evening.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Cliff the Swallow Sends His Regards

I walked right up to this cliff swallow yesterday. He didn't fly away until I got surprisingly close. The only reason I could see for that was that he wanted his picture on my blog.

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Contest Results

Thank you to the dozen of you who entered my contest! Many of you responded on Facebook, so I reposted your entries here on the blog so everyone could see all twelve.

Most of your entries responded to the sweetness of the photo: "In Daddy's Arms" or "Daddy's Little Girl." A couple responded to that little twinkle in my Rabbit's eye and went with a humorous entry: "Daaaad! Not in PUBLIC!" or "I got him where I want him..."

Special mention goes to my friend Sue who sent this very thought-provoking little poem:

Heart swells
From tender bride
Ringing heaven's belles
From Father's side

However, I think my favorite combines both the tenderness of the photo and the fact that the Rabbit looks like she knows she's got Dad wrapped around her finger: "All Mine." So, congratulations to my friend Sarah B. from Idaho! For your prize, I'm going to mail you one of my favorite books.

Thanks again, everyone! This was really fun!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Photo Needs a Name

Welcome to the first Little Birrd on the Prairie Name-That-Photo Contest! I love this picture and it needs a good name, but I can't think of one. That's where you come in. Please think of a clever title and post it in the comments section. Now, I'm not Pioneer Woman, so I don't expect thousands of entries. But I do expect a generous handful of options. Also, because I am not Pioneer Woman, I will not be giving away a $500 gift card, but I WILL be giving a prize to the winner! So put your thinking caps on and come up with something by Monday at 12 noon CDT. Thank you for participating!

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Perfect Pesto

I went a-harvesting in my garden yesterday and brought home kale, chard, yellow squash, and a huge pile of basil.

So of course I made pesto.

I set Bean to work peeling garlic cloves for me. He had so much fun he peeled more than the recipe calls for.

I threw them all in my robot culinaire anyway. I was in a garlicky mood. I also poured in olive oil and added a chunk of parmesan cheese and a handful of walnuts. I'm not rich enough to buy pine nuts, but if you use walnuts it's called "winter pesto" which sounds very chef-y instead of very tightwad-y and I like that.

Oh, and salt. Don't forget the salt.


This ended up being the most scrumptious batch of pesto I have ever made. I think it was the extra garlic. Even Roo gobbled it down on crackers.

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Have I Ever Mentioned... much I love my oak tree?

I can see it out my kitchen window when I'm working at the sink. It makes me so happy! When you're temporarily living in a slightly shabby duplex an elegant oak tree really does a lot for your ch'i.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

I Wasn't Exaggerating

Fish really is making three story structures out of Linoln Logs.

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Our little Rabbit cut her first tooth on July 19, just shy of her 5-month mark. Yesterday, she graduated to an Exersaucer. Oh my goodness, she is one happy Rabbit! She loves being upright and able to really see what's going on. You can tell she feels like a real part of the family now. And I'm getting more done because she's not crying quite so much of the time. Hooray!

P.S. I bought this Exersaucer at a garage sale for ten bucks. Score!
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Pioneer Day!

Today marks the anniversary of the Mormon Pioneers' first entry into the Salt Lake valley in 1847. When you live in Utah, the entire state whoops it up on July 24th: parades and fireworks and bands and church suppers where they serve piles of homemade whole wheat bread with butter and jam.

I have many ancestors who were Mormon pioneers and who walked across the hot dusty plains with their oxen and their sunbonnets and their barrels of molasses and their scriptures heading toward a place where they could live their religion in peace. The older I get, the more I am in awe of these people and the more I realize that their strength is somewhere down inside me, and inside my children. I have a responsibility to carry on their legacy, and that's a very humbling thought.

So we had a little Pioneer Day project today. We built a little covered wagon from a kit. All it took was a hammer and wood glue, so it was the perfect project for two small boys. And it turned out very nicely!

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A Sticky Celebration

As the evening wore on, Bean's birthday celebration got stickier and stickier....

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Do you remember how exciting birthdays were when you were seven?

How determined you were to blow out all your candles on the first blow?

How good it felt to hear everyone singing "Happy Birthday to You"?

And how fun it was to lick the frosting off the bottom of the candles?

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I've been shopping garage sales and clearance sales for a couple of months now and I had quite a pile of little things to give the boys for their birthdays. They were thrilled to have so many presents to open.

I also went to the educational toy store and shelled out big bucks for one nice thing for each of them. It's funny how most of the time I'm a total tightwad, but when it comes to certain things I'm willing to pay, like educational birthday and Christmas presents for the kids. But that's why I cut so many corners in other aspects: so that when occasions like this come around, I have money to blow.

Bean had been playing this game "Blokus" at Uncle Joe's house. I had never played it with him, but it looked like a good fun brain-building game so I decided to buy it. It was a bit pricey, but I'm so glad I bought it. I've since played it with him and it's really fun. I love games that are fun for kids and grownups. In fact, recently I chucked Candy Land in the trash. For one thing, I hate playing it with them because it's boring for me and they get so upset every time we play it because it's based entirely on chance. For another thing, they were constantly scattering the cards all over creation and they'd beat the box to death. Anyway, Blokus is a real winner. Fish can play it, but he doesn't really get the strategy yet. Bean was so good at the strategy he blew me away. I loved watching the little gears turning in his brain as we played.

Look at that excited, happy Bean face!

I scored again on Fish's main present: a big set of Lincoln Logs. He has been playing with them non-stop ever since, building elaborate three-story log palaces. The set also came with cowboy and Indian figurines which have already provided hours of entertainment for both Bean and Fish. My money was very well spent!

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