10 April 2008

I Hate Sparrows

Ok, so that might not be entirely true. I'll revise. I hate not being able to readily identify sparrows. These little buggers are daunting creatures to identify for a few reasons. First, there are about a hundred different species. OK twenty. However many it is, the problem for me is that the differences between certain species are so minute that you really need to have the entire bird memorized in order to accurately ID them. A few have easily distinguishable traits that make them stand out. The White-throated Sparrow is a good example. In addition to its namesake white throat, it's got bright yellow lores and a bright white supercilium. That's the stripe above its eye for you non-birders. Others are not so conveniently named. Take for instance the Song Sparrow. If the pattern of nomenclature followed that of the White-throated Sparrow, the Song Sparrow would instead be named the 'Mostly-brownish streaked with a messy spot on its breast Sparrow'. That probably wouldn't fit on the pages of the field guides, though, so I guess they just picked something that sounded nice, like "song". Thanks for the help.

Well, it is with great shame that I have to admit that I identified a new sparrow today and added it to both my Big Year and life lists. The shame comes in the fact that it was the Chipping Sparrow, certainly one of the most common birds around. People I talk to see these things everywhere, in groups of like fifty. Until today at the park, I had never definitively been able to say that I'd seen one. Then, of course, I saw 6 more in the span of the next 15 minutes. That's just how it goes for me.

In other news, the girls and I went down to the Moss Creek Nature Trail this afternoon and just spent some time playing around. We took the butterfly net and the girls used it to catch Ladybugs. Not sure what they're gonna do with them, but they caught 6 or 7. I did a little birding, but only as much as I could do within arm's reach of the kids. I did manage to see a number of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers doing their best gnat-catching, as well as the resident Great Blue Heron and Red-shouldered Hawk. As we were leaving, I caught sight of one of the cutest things I've seen in a long time. From among the reeds in a pond near the entrance, a female Mallard emerged followed by 9 of the cutest little ducklings you've ever seen. She took them over to the other side, presumably so that none of the rocks Lily was throwing would hit her babies, and then she just watched as the youngsters dabbled for food among the plants. Their little yellow and black striped heads were so cute following behind the mom, all lined up neatly in a row as she led them to safety. I regret that I did not have my camera with me, but I will try to go back tomorrow to get a shot of the cuteness.

09 April 2008

Breaking The News

So Monday we broke the news to the girls about our pregnancy. We didn't get too cute with it, just showed them the ultrasound photo and asked them what it looked like. Lily, of course, said "A monster". Well, honey, if it's anything like you . . .

Avery, on the other hand, just scowled and said "A baby".

"Is it yours", she asked?

"Yeah, it sure is! What do you think?"

The look on her face said it all. She was NOT excited. She looked like she was going to break out into tears. Then, Mandi calmly added "Don't worry, you're not going to have to share your room."

Instant 180.

She immediately smiled and started talking to Lily about being a big sister herself. It's good to know that all it took to keep her from loathing our expected addition was a little thing like letting her keep her own room. When I think about it, putting the baby in the room with Lily is a small price to pay to keep Avery positive about a new sibling. It doesn't matter one way or the other to Lily . . she doesn't really understand the benefits of having her own bedroom yet. So I guess it's a win-win.

Tuesday morning, after Ave left for school, I went in to her room to straighten up and I noticed this little Barbie scene she'd arranged on her dresser, and it almost brought me to tears. She is such a good kid, so thoughtful, and she'll make a great big sister to this baby.

Then, I started looking a little closer, and as is my nature I found a few details about the little set-up that bothered me.

Number 1: The baby's not wearing any clothes. What kind of parents does she think we are? I mean, we've only sent her to school without clothes that one time, and it wasn't really even our fault . .

Number 2: The male Barbie portraying "Dad" in this scenario is covered up in gray hair. WTF? There might be one little white patch in my beard when I let it grow out, but I have a grand total of ZERO gray hairs on my head. What's she trying to say? Mandi contends that it's the only male doll she owns . . I sense a conspiracy.

Number 3: Why is the "Mommy" Barbie still pregnant? Is this some sort of sign that the measures we take after this pregnancy to prevent future ones will be unsuccessful? Please let the answer to that rhetorical question be "No". Please.

I guess I just need to stop being so analytical and enjoy this work for what it is. The gray hair thing just hits a little too close to home.