Our kids are for the birds. Literally. My sister – the coolest zia in the world if you ask her – is a zookeeper, who specializes in Asian birds. To be honest, her job is pretty cool but don’t tell her that; I don’t want her to get an even bigger head. Zia also keeps a ringneck dove named Baci as a pet, and the kids torture the poor dear with love, of course, whenever they’re around her. Anyway, Zia has made our children – her niece and nephews – wild for birds. So, Nonna decided to keep up the bird craze and occupy the kid’s attention for more than a millisecond by having them each get a pine cone, rub chunky peanut butter on it, and then roll it in bird seed to hang on our trees as bird feeders.
My niece was careful to cover every inch in peanut butter and gently roll it in bird seed. She also bossed my husband around until he placed the feeder on the tree where she thought it would be best for viewing hungry birds. The boys were another story. My nearly 21-month-old nephew stood on the dining room chair and ate the peanut butter. My son sat and did the same but also started spitting out the peanut butter in an attempt to be the class clown. It worked. His cousins thought he was the Jerry Seinfeld of the toddler set, and my niece, with a bad case of the giggles, nicknamed him the peanut butter piggy. Needless to say, I finished the feeders for the boys and had to mop the floor…several times.
Still, it was a great project because we had a few moments, where the kids weren’t yanking each other’s hair, stealing each other’s toys, or kicking and screaming tantrum-style on the floor. And we gain three to four minutes per day, too, while they look out the window to watch the hungry birds eat, eat, eat. Zia would be proud.
This is the photo on the About.com Newlyweds site today. But it’s also the view I have from my office window. That nest and those birds have inspired me to better prepare for growing a family. I’m hoping it has the same influence on my readers. Check out what I told them about saving money and getting their own nest in tip top shape in today’s blog.
Many, many of you have heard the hilarious tale of the turkey next door. In 2008, I was in my kitchen in northern N.J., just outside of Manhattan, and I noticed a Thanksgiving turkey in the yard next door. I banged on the window, but it just stared at me. At a certain point, it turned and showed me a full display of its feathers and butt, which my sister, a zookeeper and bird expert, explained meant he wanted to mate with me. First, I called my aunt and she told me to get a broom, hit it over the head, she would come kill it, and we’d eat it. There was no way I’d be participating in that plan, so I called my sister, who told me to go outside wearing long pants just in case the turkey decided to spur me (read: claw at me continuously). After that, I wasn’t going anywhere. I stayed put until my parents returned to their home just next door and I told my father to get rid of it.
He chased the turkey for a half hour in a display that was as humorous as it was dramatic. In fact, townspeople gathered to watch the turkey and Papa run up and down the street and in and out of people’s yards. We don’t get turkeys in our neck of the woods, so it was quite a scene. It was like theater. “My daughters won’t letta me killa you, so go home-a turkey,” Papa shouted all the while in his Italian accent. Finally, the turkey finished playing with Papa and returned to the yard that he was calling home. I’m pretty sure the neighbor was planning on eating him because two days later we found some feathers nearby that looked suspiciously familiar.
Why am I telling you this now? Well, today, yet another winged friend showed up in our neighbor’s yard. This one was far more menacing. I believe this was a hawk, and he was eating another bird. All that’s left now are the feathers. It was gruesome, but I watched this theater, too. I even picked up a camera this time. See above and below. The turkey was cuter — and so was my Papa.