Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lessons from Birds

**Disclaimer** At the time of this story, I was about 1 week post-partum with my second child. This does NOT mean that I am depressed. What it does mean is that my emotional reaction to the events described may seem like an overreaction to many, however in my heightened emotional state of re-adjusting hormones, it definitely felt like the natural response.

Anyone who knows me, knows of my dislike of birds. I'm not sure if it began with a bird pooping on my fourth grade teacher at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and her yelling at our class to stop laughing at her, or it was a friend of mine who decided it was a good idea for me to watch the movie "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock (which of course threw me right over the edge), or my biology classes in college which pointed to birds as one of the most disease-carrying animals in our midst. I also dislike things swooping by my head which obviously is a bird trait...so add all of that up and you have a lady who doesn't care for birds much. 

Our recent move to the suburbs, to an area rich with nature, has been an adjustment to city living, but watching our daughter enjoy the animals of nature that are so abundant in this area has been so worth it!

Ok to the story!

A robin family set up a lovely nest in a lilac tree that is immediately outside our front window. Perfect learning experience for my almost 2 year old and a perfect bird viewing for the rest of us. The weekend before delivering my sweet baby, the eggs hatched and out came 4 cutie baby birds. By the time we came home from the hospital, the birds were popping up out of the nest every time mama & dada came by with food, which we all loved to watch and were fascinated with.

About a week into our watching the baby birds grow, I was alone in the living room and saw a crow fly up to the nest. My immediate instinct was to run to the window and make a lot of noise, which just the motion of me coming towards the window made the crow fly away. Why would a crow come to the nest, I asked my husband? He assured me crows do not eat other birds and it was probably going after the food the mama and dada was bringing to the babies. I accepted this but kept an eye on our little baby birds.

Well, later that day, we were in a completely different room in the house and heard what one can only describe as constant bird shrieking. Matt and I looked at each other and basically at the same time knew exactly what was going on. We both ran to the front door to do whatever we could but we were too late. There were landscapers across the street that were saying out loud that the crow got a baby bird. (I will keep on going with the story but you can imagine my reaction at this point - I was absolutely sobbing, with my newborn in hand, and trying to see how many babies that crow got...just one thank God, but one too many for my liking! Not to mention the naivety of my husband for thinking the crows wouldn't eat the babies. Turns out he was just saying that so I wouldn't worry).

What we witnessed after this was incredible. One, there must have been at least 15 robins that flew after that crow in defense of the robin family it attacked. We couldn't believe our eyes watching them band together in defense of their fellow robins and young. Two, was the aftermath of this attack on the robin family.The mama and dada bird were perched about 4 feet away from the nest and were screeching at their remaining babies. We couldn't figure out why until about two minutes later, one of the baby birds jumped out of the nest.  Apparently they had told their babies their nest was no longer safe and to get out! I always thought that the mom/dad birds pushed their babies out of the nest, but that is not the case at all. After a few minutes the second bird jumped out. I sat there for a good hour rooting on the third bird, hoping it would get the point and jump but no dice. It took a few days before the last bird was good and ready to jump, but the whole time, the mama & dada bird remained a watchful eye and kept feeding their baby.

Since the last bird jumped, we have suffered a bit of "empty nest" syndrome, but the nest is still there and our sweet little toddler points it out to as many people who will listen to her as possible! I sat and thought about what happened a lot and took two life lessons from these birds:

1) Patience - if I was that mama bird, I would've given that third bird about 20 seconds to jump before knocking him/her out of that nest to find a safe place to hide until it was ready to fly. But nope - that mama and dada knew what needed to happen, and patiently waited for their third baby to jump. Literally almost two days, through dark nights and everything. So, patience my friends, everything happens in good time and when it needs to happen.

That third birdie - so close to jumping!

2) We need each other! Why don't human beings stick up for each other with such immediacy and vigor? I realize there are many people in the world who do currently do this, but I think this is something that is lacking for most. I am reminded of a story my friend in college told me about how she was waiting to get on a bus to go to another campus, and when she was in line to get on, one of the passengers ahead of her started having a seizure and fell over in front of the door to the bus. She said the people ahead of her just WALKED OVER the girl and got on the bus without even seeing if she needed help, while my friend ran to the girls' aid. What???? Someone goes into medical distress and you just walk over them like nothing happened????  Why don't we look out for each other more? While larger events like this are more significant, I'm sure there are plenty of things in our daily lives that we could improve on, and opportunities for us to look out for our fellow human beings. It doesn't matter if it is in your own home, your local community or around the world...we need to look out for each other. Either in deed or word - think about what you say too!

The lost baby bird reminded me of some hearty life lessons and I hope passing it on will remind others too.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1) My two precious babies whom I love so very much and will NEVER push out of our nest!!! (I'm sure I will read this in 20 years or so and either laugh or cry)

2) Being able to spend these early weeks with my newborn and toddler, seeing them grow together and help them to learn something new every day.

3) All the people in my life that would "fight a crow" for me. You know who you are...I love you and would do the same for you in a heartbeat!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year readers!

I will begin this blog with few things that happened over the past couple of months that really made me feel like a mom. I am a rookie at only 1.5 years into this role, but am learning! So here's my list of "how you know you're a mom:"
1) When you have to clean a streak of amoxicillan off the kitchen floor after your child wails the medicine out of your hand in protest ( I definitely don't blame her for this - it was her first ear infection and the medicine smelled like gross bubble gum).

2) Surviving the first ear infection your child ever has.I know this doesn't seem like a huge accomplishment but I definitely felt like I had a "I am a mom" moment at the end.
3) When you destroy a load of wash after failing to remove a crayon from your pocket. 
4) When you are ok with wearing things with blotches of blue dye all over them because of event described in #3.

5) When you weep the first time your child goes tinkle on the potty. It's a combination of: happiness because the end of diapers for this child may be in sight, sadness because somehow time is flying and you already think your baby is growing up too fast, and finally slight annoyance because it marks the beginning of knowing where all public restrooms are and having the arsenal to de-germ everything that could/will be touched by your toddler (my guess is that this will fade with more children).

I'm sure there will be more but these were the most notable recent mommy moments. I wouldn't trade them for anything!

At this time of year, I'm sure many people are in a reflective mode - one of looking back at the past year and what you did or did not accomplish/improve - and one of looking forward to the next year. My mind keeps wandering back to Fr. Leon's (our pastor) column a week or so ago which talked about setting attainable goals instead of general ones. This of course makes perfect sense, but probably never occurred to me in the past because of the lofty expectations that I was accustomed to setting for myself. Let's be real - I have a child now, another on the way, a new house and have a slightly different focus these days than in the past. So, ok, I thought, I will definitely take our pastor's advice and add little things back to my life that are good and try to rid myself of some of the negative things. Seems simple enough. 

Well my friends, then my beloved Pope Francis dropped this (see article in grey below...I just copied and pasted the article right from Catholic News Service in case the link somewhere down the line went down) in my lap. Contrary to the title, I know this wasn't meant to be New Year's Resolutions - this is a list of serious life resolutions - the things that all of us need to take a step back and really take a look at in our lives to see if we are even close to "accomplishing." I can't even begin to describe how happy I was to see these, and have no favorite - they are all my favorite in some way shape or form.  But - rest assured - I will be reflecting on these throughout 2015 and probably the rest of my life. Well done Holy Father! 

Pope Francis’ suggested New Year’s resolutions

(CNS/Paul Haring)
(CNS/Paul Haring)
VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis met before Christmas with Vatican employees, mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded remarkably like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:
– “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
– “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”
– “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
– “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”
– “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
– “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
– “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”
– “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
– “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”
***On a side note - I spent the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 trying to figure out how we could get to the Vatican so I could have Pope Francis give my sweet baby girl a kiss (i.e. in these photos). This trip did not happen, however, after pondering 2014 and all the wisdom that has come from our Pope this year, I feel like our whole family has been "kissed" by that wisdom and life advice. That to me is impressive but also feels like a huge blessing!***
Matt and I were privileged to speak a few weeks ago at Blessed Sacrament Parish about our Mission work. Prior to speaking, we attended Mass and Fr. Bill's homily was about radiating the joy of Christ. I think all of us could take this as a simple resolution for the New Year. Joy and happiness are contagious - radiate the joys in your life to others.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1) Change and its ability to make things better. I won't go into this too much but there has been a lot of change in various aspects of my life this year that at first I was reluctant to accept but now realize its greater purpose its positive impact.

2) My family - immediate, extended, in-laws and the like. Sometimes the holidays can be overwhelming but in the end, I am so very grateful for them all and the energy they bring to our lives

3) The year ahead - the opportunity to bring a new life to the world, and to bring about positive change in little ways.