If I were brave enough to take a picture of the nest, I would, but I'm not. So, enjoy someone else's picture

My new security system is as simple as a robin’s nest, nestled into the arborvitae outside my fence. The birds keep a careful watch, perched on the fence at all times, ready for attack. No one gets in or out without a cry for backup. If you come through my gate, you better be prepared for a bird dive.

If you know me, you probably know my fear of birds. I do not hide it well. In fact, I have a very real fear of anything that flaps and/or pecks. It’s not the birds, themselves, that I am scared of, but rather, their wings and beaks. I like looking at the little guys, I just don’t want them flying around my head and pecking my eyes out.

These particular robins chose the bush right outside of my gate to nest in. For me, the annoying part of this is that I can’t take the garbage out without being yelled and swooped at by birds. For my neighbors, their front porch has become a birdie toilet. I’m not sure which is worse.

Because little baby birds are involved, I feel out of control of the situation. I can’t blame the little creatures for wanting to protect their innocent eggs. I get it. Animals, including humans, will go through great lengths to protect their offspring. I hope these birds are strong, though. They nested next to my compost bin, which means their competition will be the friendly neighborhood bears.

As for now, I know when something is not quite right in the yard by the cry for help coming out of their little beaks. You hear that, bears? And you too, burglars… I’ve got my bird’s eye on you!

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A while back I gave my son an old camera of ours to play with. Then, for his 2nd birthday, he was given a camera from his aunt and uncle. Recently, I decided to go through his cameras and see what was on them. It gave me a glimpse into the world through a toddler’s eyes.

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We visited the tulips fields in Mt. Vernon, Washington earlier this Spring. As you can see, below, I am taking a picture of my son taking a picture. I was quite pleased with the way my photo turned out, but I think I may like his better.

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Most of his pictures are of me with the camera, because that is when he wants to use his camera, too.

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I am particularly fond of this photo of an “angry” Daddy.

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I’m sure he wasn’t really angry. We were at the zoo that day.

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And there you have it, the world, as seen by a toddler. I think we may have a budding photographer on our hands.

Kelsey Creek Farm

June 21, 2012

copyright 2012 Bona Fide BitesOur latest exploration took us to an unexpected place. I grew up in Ohio, so I am used to seeing farms everywhere. A farm in the middle of the city, however, surprised me.

Kelsey Creek Farm, located in Kelsey Creek Park, is a wonderful place to take young children in the Seattle area. And, it’s FREE! Complete with cows, goats, pigs, chickens, bunnies, and horses, visitors are free to wander about independently. They offer all types of classes (at a cost) for children, including horsemanship training.

Since I have a 2-year-old, the choices of classes are quite limited, though they do offer a “Little Farmers” class that is a parent/child class. I plan on checking that out.

During our visit, I had an opportunity to capture some images of the animals and thought I’d share them here.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

I’m not going to lie, the cows smell. That should come as no surprise, they are cows after all.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The farm is home to four little piglets, born in January 2012. They were all asleep while we were there.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The horses seemed friendly. As I said, Kelsey Creek Farm offers horsemanship courses, starting at age 4.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The surrounding park is a wonderland for children to explore the good-ol’ outdoors. They loved climbing on the old trees.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

This is one bird I am glad was behind bars. I don’t like the look I was getting from this one.

 Kelsey Creek Farm offers the “Little Farmers” class (for ages 2-3) next month. It advertises that children will actively participate in animal care and feeding, barn chores, cooking, gardening, and arts and crafts. I’m on a mission to find out more information on it. I think this may be a good one to explore.

See my Flickr page for additional photos.

Knee-High Naturalists

June 13, 2012

Exploring Nature with ToddlersI try to expose my son to a variety of interests, even if I don’t particularily like it. Like bugs. You see, it is my belief (as sexist as it may be) that all men should protect the women in their lives from bugs and rodents. It is their duty. So, in raising a little man, I think it is important to expose him to those things so there will be no fear. As long as I am raising a boy, chivilery will not die!

When I saw the opportunity to sign up for a toddler workshop called “Knee-High Naturalists” I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to expose my son to something I naturally wouldn’t want to do myself. The program advertised walking along the water and discovering all sorts of nature; birds, rocks, plants, and yes, bugs.

The morning of our adventure, as I was getting ready, I attempted to create excitement. In my peppiest voice (which, I must admit isn’t all that peppy and sounds rather unnatural on me) I said, “We’re going to do something really fun today! We are going to go walk along the water and find birds and plants and bugs!”

Then I remembered that my son doesn’t like bugs the way most boys do (surprise, surprise). When he sees them outside he normally says “Go home bug!” and proceeds to tell me he doesn’t “really like that bug.” So, I quickly tried rewording our morning outing and said, “Doesn’t that sound fun?! Do you want to see some birds!?”

To my surprise he responded, “And bugs!” with excitement.

“Yeah! And bugs! How fun!” I said, trying to keep the excitement going. He reached his hand out toward me and said, “I’m going to touch them!”

That surprised me. “You are?” I asked.

Then he took his hands and pretended to hold a baseball bat. He started to swing it. “And hit them with my bat!” he proudly exclaimed.

And there we have it. He wants to torture the bugs, not explore them. I think it’s a step in the right direction. At least he’s not running away from them.

Cedar River Education Center- North Bend, WA

If you live in the Seattle area, the Cedar River Education Center at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend offers the Knee-High Naturalists program once a month, throughout the summer. We ended up having a blast. We learned about weather as our guide helped point out different aspects of it on our nature walk. The program is designed for children three and under and is only $5 per adult. The Education Center has a whole slew of things to explore. It is a mini, hands-on science center. That, by itself, is worth the trip.

I’m so glad I found this, because we will be returning. Next month’s topic? Bugs. Time to put my big-girl pants on.

 
 
To register for the program you may email CRWProgram@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9421.  Rattlesnakek Lake is located off of I90, exit 32. 
 
 

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BOB Jogging StrollerWhile at the park today with my 2-year-old boy, a team of what I will call “Power Moms” literally strolled in. They donned the latest, greatest workout gear, and each had their double jogger strollers. You could feel the power beaming from them, as if the Queen Bee had just flown into the hive. They parked the strollers; the kids jumped out. Both moms and daughters went straight to work. The older group laid out their blankets on the lawn and started doing all sorts of abdominal work. Their daughters grabbed their exercising bands from the strollers and took over the playground, turning it into a mini gym. They attached their exercise bands to the rope ladder and worked on their arms. They used the kiddie picnic table as a step-machine, stepping first onto the seat, then on the table, and worked their way back down. They used that picnic table seat to do reverse push-ups to tone the backs of their arms, then turned around and did push ups to work on the bicep. All the while, their mothers were cheering them on, encouraging them to do more pushups. Did I forget to mention that these were 3-year-old girls?

At first I thought it was cute. The little girls wanted to be just like their mommies. They were just imitating them and pretending to exercise. Then my little guy wanted to see what they were doing. He dropped his shovel, abandoning it in the mulch, and went over to watch. They were using their exercise bands on the rope ladder. He thought it was funny, so he laughed. Then one of the little girls looked at him and barked, “It’s not funny!” I stood up and walked over to where they were. He was laughing hysterically. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Where’s my rope?!” I explained to him that we didn’t bring a rope to the park today, but pointed out his deserted shovels. The little girl looked at me, very seriously and said, “He’s laughing and this isn’t funny.” She had the attitude of someone in the middle of a heavy workout who had just been interrupted. “Well, he thinks it’s funny,” I said “He’s never seen this before.” She looked me straight in the eye and said with attitude, “No, my mommy says this isn’t funny. We’re working out.” Right, fine. I’m not going to pick a fight with a 3-year-old. I took my son and redirected him back to his shovel.

Back on the bench, I can hear the Power Moms talking loudly and proudly. One gloats to her friend, “I’ll be doing Jillian Michaels video and she will do the whole thing with me! She does all the moves.” Then she looks at her daughter, “Good job, Honey! Keep it up!”

That’s when the little girls started climbing “stairs” (a.k.a standing on the table). My son again wants to know what they were doing. He thinks it is funny that someone would stand on a table. Go figure, it’s not something we allow in our house. “Oh, look! Now they’re doing their ‘steps’!” one mother beams.

That’s when I made up my mind that this was not “cute.” These young girls were not playing “exercise”. They were truly working out. The whole situation made me uncomfortable. It’s great that these moms are taking their health seriously and are finding time to work out, but what kind of message is this sending to the children? It made me think about how I talk about fitness and food around my son.

There is a right time to introduce exercise to children. I’m not sure when it is; gym class, perhaps. I am sure, however, encouraging your preschooler to work her gluts and saying she “needs to do 10 more push ups” is not the right way to go about it.

As uncomfortable as this whole sight made me, I’m glad I saw it. I am definitely going to be more conscientious of how I speak about my own health in front of my son, even if I’m not speaking to him. These kids absorb everything.

I want my son to be healthy and active, and enjoy good, nutritious food, but I don’t want it to be an obsession. I don’t want him to feel like he’s dieting or exercising. I want him to feel like he’s playing and eating. And I certainly don’t want him standing on tables (but that’s a entirely different issue).

*Photo above is a stock photo advertising the BOB stroller,  taken from www.healthchecksystems.com.

 

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