A Day in the Life--May

Linking up today with Tristan at Our Busy Homeschool.

I had no intention of using today for our monthly post, but this day is going so catterwampus as important real life education happens to us that I think it is wise to do my best.

The day started rather Monday boringly and blessedly.  I woke on time after a good night's sleep and had complete quiet in which to do my personal scripture study.  Kids woke, got dressed, did chores, and generally got going.  I wrote this post about the baby robins that E14 adopted.  (You should pause to read it, because today's is going to be full of follow up to that back story).

Breakfast was on time at 8:30 am, and we had a nice little devotional--nothing exciting, nothing dreadful.  We're done with formal school for the summer, so the kids were sent from the breakfast table to brush their teeth and read scriptures. 

According to this site, it is illegal to capture and keep wild birds, but we knew that.  Obviously people keep doing it (like our E14), so there's lots of advice about what to do if you've already crossed the line.  E14's been doing a remarkably good job raising these little ones, and we've tentatively decided to let her see it through--the natural consequence of messing around with wildlife is seeing what happens when you mess around with wildlife.  Our birdies are fledglings and need to be free outside as much as possible while still having the security of being fed by their parents.  After reading the following:

"You will quickly find that as he masters finding berries and worms for himself, he will grow less and less dependent on the food you offer, so don't worry about making him dependent, as long as you give him the freedom that his own parents would give during his critical time of learning and exploration. If you trust him to learn natural skills while you protect him, little by little he's going to get more wild. He will start associating with robins on his own, grow restless in fall, instinctively join up with other robins, and take his cues from them about migration."

We decided to take Mac and Roni outdoors to let them eat, explore, fly a bit, and generally get ready to be independent, all while being supervised by E14.  

I took a birthday phone call from my mom (who has diligently been trying to call me since even before my birthday) and ate a piece of toast while the kids followed E14 and the robins outside like a parade.

But while I was telling Grandma about the birds, the adventure took a turn.  Mac flew to the top of our house roof.  He stayed there for a long time--face into the wind, seemingly very happy to be there.  Roni flew up to a power line, doing the same as Mac.  They're obviously strong and happy because they're able to stay perched even with the wind buffeting them.  

I ran inside to get the camera and start documenting our adventures.

Mac flew off to a stand of trees and disappeared from view.  We cannot find him.

Our dejected J10 walking sadly away after not finding Mac.
Roni flew to a nearby tree.  We can see him.  

In the mean time there is a nest full of brand-new-just-hatched-yesterday baby robins in our apple tree.  The parents are trying madly to feed their babies and keep us distracted because we are spending the day outside--too near the apple tree--and they feel threatened.  They are also flying wildly around Roni; we think they feel threatened by his presence as well.

You can't see them, but this nest is full of tiny robin hatchlings.  Their parents work from dawn to dusk keeping them fed.

10:11 am

E14 has fed Mac and Roni out of the same pink and orange pail for 5 days.  We've set it in plain sight, hoping that the little guys will get hungry and fly down to that familiar pail.  However, we're not sure because fledgling robins are fed on location by their faithful parents.  Parent robins know how to find their babies and can get to them wherever they are.  We cannot.  

We had no idea the babies could fly this well.   
We thought they'd stick closer than this at first. 
We don't know what we are doing.
We are learning first hand about what happens when you mess with wildlife.
We are waiting, waiting, waiting. 

E14 keeps a careful eye on Roni.  Sometimes she clicks the tweezers on the side of the pail, hoping Roni will recognize the sound and come down to be fed.

This the last place we saw Mac.  J10 scans the tree branches for any sign of him.

I2 is aware of the drama, but small enough to be fascinated by his "toesies" as seen through the binoculars--backwards.

S11 points out the baby apples growing on our tree.

J10 and A7 are delighted at the sight of the purple clover flowers.

A7 shows me an interesting flower she found. 

Inside the house, I2 is playing with our National Geographic geography game, while Daddy deals with clogged toilets and tries to finish assembling the triple bunk beds. 

"Dis owr house.  Wight herwe."

It's sure not boring around here. 

12:00 noon

E14 has waited patiently outside for over 2 hours for her babies to come home.  

Waiting  . . . waiting . . .

They've moved about a bit--Mac from one branch to another and Roni from one tree to another.  They're cheeping more.  They still seem strong, holding tightly to their perches as the wind tosses them about.  They have neither looked for nor found any food on their own.  Other robins seems to be responding to their presence.  None are directly interacting with them, but I wonder what will happen over time.

I've been cleaning desultorily, working on lunch, helping small people get what they need in order to play.  I haven't seen M12 in hours.  I think she's reading . . . or doing her hair.  Kids are just being kids both in and out of the house.

Oops.  That's big sister's toy set.  She learns she ought to put her toys away!  But I2 is not destructive today, and plays nicely with the tiny toys.
H4 uses a rope to help her swing in the hammock--S11 set up the rope originally.

Once Daddy got the bathroom cleaned up he headed down to the garage to get the bikes mended and cleaned up for the season.  We have a homeschool bike ride we'd like to attend tomorrow.  

Daddy uses the car battery to run an electric pump for all of those bike tires.  I2 takes advantage of the open car and plays there.

H4 helps by washing bikes and checking the tires.

That's Grampa helping out.

Daddy fixes some errant bike brakes.

The baby robins are still outside the bounds of our reach.

Mac is at the very, very top of this tree.  He's probably 70 or 80 feet up.
 We continue to wait.  Hoping they will return to E14 and her pink and orange feeding pail. 

1:18 pm

The babies are gone.  

I have a thousand "if onlys" in my brain right now.  But they are worthless because the opportunity to behave intelligently is past, and the babies are gone.  They will probably starve to death because we didn't know what we were doing and I was not responsible enough to just make the right decision and take them to the nature center.

They got so close that we tried to get them, but our efforts actually drove them off and they are gone.

Mac drops to a lower branch.  Daddy comes to see if we can get him down.  E14 looks across the street at Roni perched in another tree, making sure he's still there.

Daddy pulls out our tallest ladder to show E14 that Mac is still beyond our reach.  The ladder is just barely too short to reach the branch he's perched on.

But because he's the best dad ever, and E14 is so sure we can get him, and Mac is cheeping and cheeping so hungrily, Daddy goes up.

S11 runs for her first aid kit when she sees her dad in a tree, but she hides it behind her back when she sees the camera in my hands.

Daddy realizes this tree is not easy to climb, so he takes off his shoes for better purchase. But even his best efforts are to no avail.  Mac flutters further and further out along the tree branch, and eventually flies off into a nearby thicket.

I hold the ladder at the bottom while M12 tries to throw Daddy's shoes up to him, so he can jump/slither/slide down.

E14 find Mac and thinks she can reach him, so she climbs up.  He's just not as tame outside as he is in her room, and instead of flying to her he flies away and is lost.  In the mean time, Roni disappears, too.
E14's impulsiveness can be forgiven--she is only 14 and impulsive.  

But I am 42 and careful.  I am the mother.  I know better.  I knew better.  I should have followed directions, stuck to my guns, set the example for correct behavior.  I can defend myself--I didn't know the babies could fly so well; I thought they'd stay closer; I was trying to show my girl I trusted her; I thought it would be a good opportunity for her to learn; I thought . . . I thought . . . I thought . . .

and now I want to weep.

J10 is mourning.

E14 is outside with her dad--she says she's kind of relieved that they're gone because the responsibility was heavy, but she also says she's sad because they don't know how to feed themselves.  I could feel the tears in her throat even though she did not cry openly as she answered my questions.  I give her much credit for not accusing me of killing them.  

Lunch is ready.  We're having homemade soft pretzels.  They're delicious and warm and buttery and salty and chewy and soooooo gooooooood.  My family will be nourished and happy.

Those poor babies!

Lesson learned.

2:34 pm

The babies are still around!  During lunch one suddenly landed on our deck railing, right next to the bird feeder!  E14 went out to see if it would come to her.  She moved ever so slowly and carefully, but it flew off into a tree.  At least it is a tree full of berries and is located within our yard. 

As I checked to see if Daddy had ever gotten any lunch (he's still trying to get the bikes in good condition --two have bad brakes), E14 yelled from the street in front of the neighbor's house, "Get Dad!  I need someone tall!"  Daddy went running.

I left them trying to get the other baby robin out of another tree.

You can't see it, but they have a butterfly net attached to a piece of PVC pipe, and they're trying to get one of the babies down.

Even if we don't catch them, I'm taking heart that they're at least close by . . . close enough that I can hear them cheeping madly through open windows even as I'm typing.

I2 is napping so he can enjoy the ball game we're going to tonight.
M12 practiced the piano and is reading again.  I found out that she's rereading The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. 
A7 is learning how to ride a bigger bike.
H4 is being a little sister--happy to be wherever someone bigger is.
S11 keeps disappearing.  Where is she again?
For that matter, where on earth is J10? 

M12 at the piano.

A bigger bike for A7 is a challenge--a good one!

4:28 pm

A while ago I was visiting with my husband while he mended the front storm door the best he could to tide us over until we can replace the broken latch.  As I leaned against the door frame with my eyes facing the field across the street, I saw a low fluttering motion.

"I think that's one of the babies!"  I said as I bolted across the lawn--eyes firmly fixed on the last spot I saw the little brown shadow.  

Sure enough it was!  I stood guard 2 feet from it while Daddy ran to get a basket.  He came back and pinned our small friend under the basket while I ran for E14.  She flew out of her seat, grabbing the pink and orange food pail as she ran.  She offered Mac (that's who it is) a bite to eat and caught him in her hand.  Daddy ran and and brought the guinea pig cage to the front porch while E14 offered bite after bite of food to the hungry baby bird.

J10 appeared out of nowhere and helped find worms.
H4 stayed close.
A7 came to watch, too.

We could see and hear Roni cheeping from the tree in the front yard (just learned today that it is an Osage tree).  Mac cheeped back.  The two cheeped at each other for a long time.  We're hoping that if we give Roni enough room, he'll come join his brother (or she'll join her sister?).  J10 has been sitting on the porch reading quietly (and no one is as quiet as J10) as she watches and waits.

E14 looked sheepishly at me, "I want to keep them again."

I grinned and understood.

Later she came in, "Can we take them to the nature center tomorrow?"  

"I'll check it out," I replied.

Daddy spent some time figuring out how to get Grammie a comfortable and accessible seat at the ball park because she was thinking about not going to the game with us.  Once he ascertained that her real concern was having hand rails to help her climb up or down, he took off to purchase tickets. 

I've been making no bake cookies and slicing up a cantaloupe.   Next up is slicing sweet pepper strips and carrot sticks.  I already have a dozen leftover soft pretzels to take for snacks as well.

Grammie has spent the afternoon reading a Rick Riordan Tres Navarre mystery.
Grampa took a nap after helping with the bikes. 
M12 did H4's hair.
A7 played with Percy the guinea pig.
E14 read.
S11 read.
I2 napped . . . and is napping still.

I'll wake him, but first I'll get that snack slicing done. 

A quiet moment just before dinner.

6:24 pm

Dinner's over; the kitchen is reasonably tidy.  Daddy made a giant batch of popcorn; I've packed the snacks I prepared.  I didn't have to wake I2; he woke ever so cheerfully on his own.  Everyone's putting on shoes, going potty one last time, and getting into the van.

We're off to a baseball game!

But before we go I must mention that Daddy was late to dinner because he was out trying to catch Roni one more time.  Roni's close, but just won't be caught.  He hasn't eaten all day; he must be so tired.  We're thankful for the miracle of Mac's safety, but we can't help wanting a second miracle.

11:16 pm

Game's over.  Our team lost, but it was fun nevertheless.  I had the privilege of sitting next to A7 who is curious and sweet and willing to learn.  I taught her about batters, pitchers, catchers, balls, strikes, outs, runs, bases, and fly balls.  I showed her how to track the score on the big scoreboard.  She was all ears and eyes and smiles.  Daddy bought a score card and used it to teach the older ones about more of the details of a baseball game.  I am boggled to think that I could actually use this outing as educational hours because of how much learning was going on--I thought we were just going out to play!

It was I2's first major league game, so it was kind of his special night.

H4 was off to the side of S11, so she got missed in these selfies.  Oh well, Grammie's face is cut off, and only part of Grampa's shirt can be seen, so she's in good company. :)

I2 loves H4's hat and wears it at any opportunity.  Here he and Daddy are dancing in hopes that a camera will focus on them.
The 3 little guys were delighted to sit and watch (quite unlike our older 4 at the same ages), but when they got restless I took them for a walk over to the playground.  It was frighteningly crowded, so A7 asked to leave, and I was more than ready to acquiesce because I2 had already taken a dangerous fall (I'd managed to catch him, though).  H4 was happy to leave as long as she had wide open vistas to skip ahead of me; fortunately she mostly got her wish.

H4 and A7 managed to fall asleep on the 10 minute drive home.  I2 had that wonderful nap, so he's actually still raring to go.  I read to him and tucked him in, but Daddy's in with him now because he just can't quite settle as usual.

The older girls brought up the subject of modesty in dress and appearance.  "Mom, did you see how many girls were wearing really short shorts and tank tops?!" asked S11 with goggling eyes and slightly boggled voice.  The other girls chimed in about what they'd noticed in the women around us.  We talked very briefly about the blessings of choosing to be modest, but I got the sense that the girls felt the visual lessons so powerfully that not much discussion was needed at that point.

E14 took Mac back into her room with her.  I wanted to tell her to leave him outside overnight, but I bit my tongue--my advice today hasn't been good.  She needs to decide for herself what's happening with the babies.

Our hearts ache for little Roni.  He'll probably become someone's midnight meal tonight.  We know baby birds have a high mortality rate, and we're usually happy with the circle of life, but knowing this little guy is a victim of our ignorance makes his likely end terribly, terribly hard.

This day has not been a regular school day.  It has, however, been a day packed with education of the most vivid kind.


  1. What adventures! We avoid birds here because of Joseph's egg allergy but love birdwatching. We're hoping to see some baby sparrows appear soon beside the house. Our cat is not on friendly terms with the local birds either - she's caught several. Those lessons are some of the best and hardest with wildlife, aren't they?

    Would you believe we've never been to a baseball game ever? I don't even know the rules of the game really, though I know a few basics. It's one of those things I occasionally wonder if I'm ruining my kids with - my lack of introducing them to sports teams/games/rules. ;) You know, when they come back from a church youth activity and didn't know how to play kickball or volleyball, you occasionally wonder. They've just never been interested...

    I love the learning that happens naturally in your day!

    1. But your kids do way more art than mine! Sometimes I wonder if I'm ruining them by not giving them as many art lessons as they could have. :) So I think we're pretty even and probably doing a good job in our own ways. It reminds me of that post you wrote about ripples, and how I had to stop and think and watch my own family to recognize the different ripples we have that are our own blessings instead of the same as yours.

      (And honestly, watching pro sports is not my favorite, but my husband loves it and it gives my kids something to talk about with their friends.)

  2. Your poor girls and poor sweet baby bird. I'm glad that you recovered one.

    1. We were glad, too . . . until we learned the next lesson the next day!! You need to read the final installment to see that the joke was on us!

  3. What a day! I love days like that when so much learning happens without even trying!

    Tough lessons to learn about the baby birds...I know there would have been tears at our house.

    1. Ultimately there were tears, but some moments are just too private for words. It was a hard and worthwhile day!


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