Saturday, May 22, 2010

Learning to Fly

A while back I noticed a birds nest in our red maple tree. It wasn't a very big nest, but the momma and poppa bird did a great job constructing it. The grass was woven from the nest, around the branches of the tree and then back into the nest. This was a good thing because they didn't pick the best tree to build it in. Our maple didn't fair well in the freeze this year and some of the limbs died. Without as many branches there aren't as many leaves, so when the wind blows the branches that are left really sway.

They were Orchard Orioles and Momma was yellow and Poppa was orange. I could see the parents bringing worms into the nest, but I never saw or heard the babies. Until last Monday night.

Duane heard a squeaking sound outside and we went to check it out. We found 2 of our cats surrounding this tiny little yellow bird. I scooped up the baby bird, went inside with it and googled what to do with it. I couldn't tell if there was anything wrong with it, but it sat kinda crooked in my hand, so it might have been injured. The information I found on the Internet said to get the bird back in its nest, so we dragged the ladder out to the tree and on the way out there we found another baby under the tree. That one had not been so lucky and I'm sure it had fallen prey to Bobo, our hummingbird murdering cat. We managed to get the one that had survived back in the nest and I was hoping the parents would show up. Not sure why, because I can't imagine that if they did, and the babies fell out of the nest again, they would be able to pick them up and get them to safety. So we got all the cats inside and locked the cat door for the night.

First thing Tuesday morning I went outside with my coffee to sit and watch the tree. I could see a baby sitting on a branch near the nest, but no parents yet. But then out of the corner of my eye I saw something jumping off the ground in front of the barn. Another wayward baby trying to fly. So out to the barn I went and I ended up chasing that bird all over the yard trying to get it. Every time I would get close enough to scoop it up, the baby would jump somewhere else. I chased that thing all over the place, under the trampoline and behind the barn. That's when Momma bird showed up and started squawking. Poppa bird must have heard the commotion because he showed up too and those birds were NOT happy! They were chirping and flying around me in circles, until I managed to finally get the baby and put him safely back in the tree.

By this time, Momma must have noticed she was missing one of her young, because she kept flying around the tree and looking all over the ground as if searching for something. She mainly stayed on the opposite side of the tree, so it was difficult to get a picture of her, but I was able to snap this one of her through the leaves.

And this is a little random, but during my search of the tree to try and count the babies, I saw this strange little bug. At first I thought it was a small cotton ball that had maybe blown through the air and landed on our tree, but after watching it I realized that wasn't the case because IT WAS MOVING! This little white puffball is a bug! No idea what it is, but it was pretty funny watching this ball of fuzz walking on the limbs of the tree.

Back to the birds...

This was the first baby that I had found near the barn. I stuck him back on a limb, lower than the nest obviously, since I'm no way near tall enough to do that and I wasn't dragging the ladder out again.

After my search of the tree I saw 3 birds total, so there must have been 4, counting the one the cats got. They were so sweet, with their down sticking out of the tops of their heads. They reminded me of Albert Einstein, with that white hair sticking out every which way.

I was trying to get ready for work, but kept worrying about the birds, so I kept making trips around the yard searching for stragglers. On my last trip before leaving the house, I found this little guy, who proceeded to crap on my fingers, near the back of the barn.

Behind the barn we have a pecan tree and next to the pecan tree, in our neighbor Bob the Builders yard, is a Crepe Myrtle and behind the Crepe Myrtle, in our other neighbors yard, is the huge tree that the falcons built their nest in last year. Now, I don't speak bird, so I don't know what all the chirping was about, but I can only imagine that those parents were telling their babies to get to those trees in the back of the yard, away from me and my murdering cat. They would fly from the pecan tree to the maple tree, flap their wings, chirp at the babies and then fly back to the pecan tree.

These next pictures are me stalking the birds. They were just so sweet that I couldn't leave them alone. Once in a while they would chirp and I'm thinking they were saying "Lady, get that camera out of my face, I'm trying to learn how to fly here!"

The night before, in my quest to find out what to do with the bird I saved from the cats, I also learned that it's all a myth about parent birds abandoning their babies if people touch them. I read that birds have a terrible sense of smell and can't tell if people have been handling them. But then again, anyone can write anything and post it on the internet, so who knows if it's true. All I know is that this Momma didn't have to smell me on her bird to know. She could clearly see that I was holding her baby. And I could clearly tell that she wasn't going to abandon it. Not with all the squawking and flying around she was doing.

I eventually put the baby back in the tree, kept the cats locked inside and off to work I went.

Duane gets home an hour before me so I called him to see if he had seen any birds. He hadn't. But the first place I went after getting home was out to the tree. Of course I had to stop at the Winn Dixie on my way home to buy oranges and grape jelly, because I had read that's what Orchard Orioles like and I wanted to give them a peace offering for torturing them that morning, and also to maybe lure them to stay around a bit longer after their babies started flying.

When I finally got out to the tree I could only see one baby in it. Sitting contently on the branches. Momma saw me and started squawking again and wouldn't you know it, that baby flew! You can barely see him behind the bare branches in the picture above, but he's flying! Flying to a higher branch in his quest to get away from me I'm sure.

Meanwhile, Momma was still searching for her babies. She kept looking down at the ground on both sides of the fence. It was pretty sad :(

This is the last picture I got of the baby. On Friday morning, while we were waiting to pull out of our subdivision on the way to school, Blaire and I had witnessed a hit and run accident. And as I was waiting to watch the baby bird fly away, our neighbor, the one that had gotten hit in the hit and run, came over to get my contact information. When I finally was able to return to the backyard the baby was gone and all the baby bird chirps were now coming from the pecan tree behind the barn. Success!

Except I later found another baby in the grass next to the maple who didn't make it. It was right near where the momma bird kept looking at the ground, so she must have known it was there before I did. I'm thinking it was the one that the cats had injured the night before. So it was a happy and sad situation, but at least one of the babies made it, possible two, because I never saw the fourth bird after I had left in the morning. I choose to believe that it made it to the pecan tree before I made it home from work that day :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prom Queens

It's prom season!

Time for tulle and sparkles and fun. And it isn't just a fun time for the prom goers either. Ohh no! It's a fantastic opportunity for all the parents to snap tons of photos of their favorite people! And our favorite people didn't disappoint us.

Here they are all dolled up, faking the pinning of the boutonniere. Maybe we should teach her how?

Really cute story of how he asked her to prom. She had been waiting patiently for him to ask and finally, on facebook, he says: "Well I have been meaning to ask you something for sometime now and I just didn't know how to ask you. Well here goes can I drive your car? Pretty please with sugar on top!!! ;)"

And if you know Bri, and I say this with all the love in the world, you know that she can be kinda ditzy some times. So, she's all confused about why Justin wants to drive her car when he has his own car, and she asks him "Can you drive my car?"

And he says "Haha you like that lol? Oh and will you go to prom with me? You know it has to be facebook official! :p" and she says "Lol drive my car ?? Hahaa. Well of course I will go to prom with you (:"

She kept walking back into the living room from her bedroom asking us, why did he ask to drive me car? It was pretty cute and so totally Bri. And now she had a date to prom!

We had been having the most beautiful spring weather up until the day of prom. Then Friday hits and it's a dark and rainy day, filled with all the mugginess of a typical Louisiana day. It seemed that our 10 days of spring were over and done with!

But these girls, in their brightly colored dresses made us forget all of that and brought the sunshine back to what was a dreary day.

All of us parents met at Sarah’s house for the picture taking ritual. Her home is absolutely gorgeous and because of the rain we decided to go out back where it is covered for the outside shots. It was a breathtaking out there and I could not wait to finish the inside pictures so we could get back out there.

Wondering who this sassy beauty is? Meet Kayla! She’s Bri and Sarah’s new bestie!! And she is such a poser! I had a blast taking her picture because she is goofy and isn’t scared to show it. She fits in perfectly!

Ahh, a group shot. This wasn’t easy for me, being so short and trying to take pictures of people up higher than me, and the railing didn’t help. The first pictures made them look like they were in a crib!

So, back to Justin. I don’t think I ever mentioned here on the blog that the first time he came to pick Bri up for a date at our house he had a little trouble finding us. Bri had told him to look for Golden Gate, our street. We’re waiting and waiting for him to show up and we see him drive by on the main road. A couple times. So Bri calls him up and tells him he keeps passing us up and so she’s directing him to our street and he passes it again! Finally we flashed the porch light so he could see the house.

Later Bri tells us that he could not find the house because he was looking for a golden gate. A GOLDEN GATE. Like as in a gold gate. Cuute! They’re so compatible.

After taking a few pictures in the house we decided to head on over to the portrait studio and take a few.

Just kidding!! This was the gorgeous backyard I was talking about! You can clearly see the dreary sky, but you can only see a tiny bit of the pond back there. Oh how I wished it hadn’t been raining and the grass wasn’t wet, so we could take pictures on the bridge. Maybe next year for their senior prom it won’t be raining.

Then we have Sarah and Taylor. Duane had to take this picture because every time short me would take it, the patio beam above his head would look like it was going through his head! He is one tall young man!

And last, but not least, we have Kayla and Paul looking sharp in their pinks and reds and stripes and swirls. And their smiles that light up a room. There was no having to tell these two to smile for the camera!

We took some photos of the couples and then some group shots outside and then it was time to turn the girls loose in front of the camera and they did not let us down.

We got funny poses.

Sweet poses.

And how much longer do we have to wait poses.

We all shuffled back in so the kids could get going. It was going to be a long night of fun for them. Dinner at PF Chang’s and then off to Stage One for the big event, a friend’s house after prom and afterwards the girls were all spending the night at Kayla’s house.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore Bri’s friends. Really good kids. And fun to be around! Love them! Sometimes Sarah even hangs out with us when Bri isn’t home!

So this was the end of the photography session and the first prom is out of the way! I can’t wait for their next opportunity to dress up so I can snap away and give them lasting memories of how much fun they had in High School! These three musketeers are seniors next year so I’m expecting I’ll be pretty busy with the camera. I can’t wait!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Yesterday we went to Duane's company picnic and had a lot of fun! There was a crawfish boil and a bunch of activities for both the kids and adults.

We weren't there for very long before it was time to eat! I'm not a big fan of boiled crawfish, it has to do with eating things that still have their eyeballs attached. But Duane and the girls can never get enough of them.

If you've never been to a crawfish boil, you've never been to Louisiana. If you really want to experience it though, springtime is the time when you want to visit.

There was a ton of crawfish, potatoes and corn on the cob.

I ate a hot dog.

I can't actually say that eating boiled crawfish is quite the experience, since I've never technically done it myself. Duane peels them for me. But if you're a true native, you have no issues with the process and you dig right in.

First you have to remove the head.

You do this by holding both ends of the crawfish and twisting it so the tail separates from the head. Then you pinch the end of the tail and pull the tail meat out with your hand or your teeth. At least I think this is how it works!

When you remove the head from the crawfish, if you want to savor every drop of spice, you can suck the head before you discard it. Yuck!

Or you can stick it on your finger and terrorize your sister.

After the boil, there was a crawfish hunt for the kids. They did it in 3 separate groups so the little ones had a chance. This was the 11 and up group.

They hid plastic crawfish in the hay and once they get the go ahead, the kids start digging through the hay to find them.

And they win money depending on how many and what size they find. There are crawfish worth $1, $5, $10 and even a $20 crawfish!

Bri came away with $9 and Blaire won a whopping $22.

Then it was time for the chipping contest. Whoever chipped their golf ball into the hula hoop, or closest to it, won the prize. No one got their ball inside the hoop, but the wife of one of the "golfers" at the plant won!

And then we had the egg toss. Bri and Blaire entered as a team and they did really good! In fact we thought they had won, and they were even given their prizes. They were each handed a $40 gift card to Walmart! Bri was excited...that mean a tank full of gas for her car!

And then it was realized that there was another team still in the competition, so they started tossing again. Bri caught the egg, but when she tossed it back to Blaire... this is what happened. No $40 gift card for you!

The final competition was the trike race. All week out at the plant people were voting on who they wanted to see in the race. Each vote cost $1. All the money was going to support the March of Dimes and the top 5 vote getters would be entered in the race.

When we got there Duane only had $10 on him and wasn't one of the top 5. But then Blaire won some money and by the time the race started he had the 3rd most votes, so he picked his trike and was all ready to race!

Then this happened. Twice. He started out backwards on his bike and didn't like that, so he turned around, rode for a second and bit the dust.

He wasn't the only one though. This is the Plant Manager taking his turn on the gravel. They should have had elbow and knee pads!

Duane was determined and kept racing. I, on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing.

And down he goes again!

But he got back on and after scoping out the competition he knew he had 2nd place in the bag.

What a blast we had! They really did a nice job putting on this picnic and we can't wait for next year!

We probably should get a tricycle for Duane to practice on though, because I'm saving up my dollars since I don't want to miss out on seeing him race again.