Category Archives: outdoors

Each Snowflake

The past four years of the bird’s life have been full of learning experiences.  Maybe that is part of being in your thirties.  It might just be life, no matter your age.  But the bird hasn’t been so in tune with it until now, until these years.  She is keenly aware that time passes whether or not you respect it.  That is motherhood, probably.

Watching your child grow forces you to acknowledge those four seasons going by over and over again.  The tiny lines appearing on your forehead and neck are a subtle reminder that you wont actually be ‘forever young’.

God chooses interesting moments to express his power.  The bird is not in control of all things.  The timing in this Universe isn’t up to any individual.  If the Parakeet could have programmed her life at this point – it might look a little different and a lot the same.  She loves her family.  She loves their urban life.  She loves their community of friends.  She loves working for herself and the varied routines of each day.  She would have had another child.  She’d be performing more. Maybe she’d take a few more fabulous vacations and decorate her house in a more stylish manner.  Some things people can change. Others they can’t. Or they shouldn’t.

Like her son, though, the Parakeet is growing up.  She is speaking her mind more each year, each month even.  She is asking for what she needs and saying no to things that don’t feed her.  She walked away from an obligation today and it felt great.  She is writing.  She is singing.  She is making plans.  She is appreciating small moments.  She’ll walk to school and pick up Little O today.  This way he can walk back in the fresh-fallen snow he’s been waiting for so long.  So long in his four-year-old world.  She’ll bring him snow pants and he’ll make a snow angel.  Her Florida-raised self will attempt to help him with a snowman.  They will be cold.  They will shiver.  They will laugh.  She will take pictures.  She will notice the moments.

Snow-flakes are important.  They mark the time as much as any clock. Maybe more so.  Lord, let the days be productive, but let no one miss the moments.



The Russell family was so lucky to get to leave the Midwest chill for a weekend at the end of February and see Uncle J and Erin get Married!!
If you are looking for some hilarious horror story of a flight – so sorry to disappoint.  They all three flew with no delays and all their bags – even with a connection through Atlanta. SCORE!
Little O was so excited to have his own seat and watch movies that it was all pretty smooth.
They landed on Friday afternoon in Savannah, GA.  Their gracious hosts drove them to Bray’s Island in South Carolina where the wedding took place. Oh.My.Goodness.
It was beyond beautiful and the temp was close to seventy degrees!  It was a very quick trip – the Huz, Keet, and Little O were back on a plane 48 hours later, but they soaked up the sun and every minute of family time they could.  Little O played so well with his cousins.
Uncle J and Erin were absolutely glowing the entire time. It was just great.
Most of the pics below are by Kevin Keelan (it will be easy to tell what he took and what the Keet took).  Kevin is wonderful and also did photography for The Keet’s wedding and Aunt M and Uncle R’s wedding.  So, please don’t use his pictures -OK? Cool.

This is where some of the guests stayed and where GB and Poppy hosted the rehearsal dinner.  Again – Oh My.  Little O yelled out, “Mom, the leaves are back!” as they pulled up the drive.  He in fact commented on the weather a lot which shows how little ones are sometimes even more in tune with nature than it may seem.  He also told the Huz he was going to play outside with “just his shirt on”.  He was so excited to run and run and run through the lawns, attempt to climb trees, throw rocks in the water, and look for birds (that is a whole different post).

This little carriage house was just for the Parakeet, Huz, and Little O.  It was pretty much awesome.  Someday they will put rocking chairs in front of a house they own and watch littles run around.  Two days was good for now.

They boys had a babysitter during the rehearsal dinner.  The Huz scooped them up afterwards; they were giggling messes.  They also happened to pack the same jammies.

Everyone managed to be ready 2 hours before the wedding for photos – 4 children included.  They did not manage, however, to get O to take his hand out of his mouth or nose or look forward or not run away or cry.  He’s 2.  Those matching ties on the wee men looked pretty great, yeah?

Then they had to keep them looking nice in those nice ties for 2 hours -much running!

The wedding was outside in these beautiful ruins called “old Sheldon Church”.  It was built during the revolutionary war and again during the civil war.
No need for decorations with this natural scenery.
Instead of a wedding party, they had this great moment when their parents came up to pray over them. Very moving and Special.

And now they are off to go live in their fairy castle and drink out of acorn cups. What ? Sorry. It just looks too perfect.

Little O’s favorite part….
the Cupcakes!! He even brought it up just today, “Uncle Jacob’s wedding had cupcakes”  yes it did, Bud. Good memory.

Then, it got FUN

The wonder of the city being covered in a foot and a half of snow is….where will they put it?
On Friday morning, Little O had music class.  I believe it is actually musik class, but that isn’t important.  The Parakeet was very ready to get him out of the house and allowed a lot of time for walking to the car (playing in the snow) and getting to class (finding a parking spot that was shoveled out and available).

Somewhat related tangent:  The Huz spent over an hour and a half clearing the snow out from around their car so the Parakeet would be able to escape Friday morning. The spot was, understandably, occupied when she came home and she shoveled her way into another one. Saturday, she went to a party for work in the afternoon.  When she returned, both the spots they had shoveled were reserved with lawn chairs.  Seriously?  It is one thing to hold the spot you slaved over digging out with furniture. It’s another to hold the spot WE shoveled out with furniture.

Back to the fun part:  Little O was ready to go outside. He had four layers on top, three on bottom, two pairs of socks, gloves, a hat….he was prepared.
The snow that gets plowed doesn’t go away when the wind chills are below zero, so the corner of our block has a HUGE pile. Little O and the Keet have nicknamed it “Snow Mountain”.  Friday morning, he worked very hard to get himself to the top.  He paused momentarily for throwing “Snow Rocks”.  When he got to the top he said, “Yay! I did it! Now I can see all the cars.”  Well, pretty much with the O-ster it’s always about cars. and trucks.

Blizzard Time

It is true. The Midwest was ROCKED this week.  The Parakeet has for sure never seen this much snow.  The News keeps reminding her of this as they repeat over and over that it is the third-worst snowstorm to hit Chicago. EVER.

The hype seemed unreal, but the whole thing was pretty scary.  A friend from church was stuck on Lake Shore Drive for hours after work until he was put in a bus and taken to a hospital for BREAKFAST.

The Parakeet and Little O ran a few important errands the morning it all hit:  They went to Jewel for Milk. Yes -with everyone. Sorry – who wants to dig your car out just for milk. Then, they went to the library and returned Little O’s books for some fresh stories. Hey – they needed options if the next 48 were going to be mandatorally inside.  Then, to the thrift store! Why was that so important as a precursor to Snowmaggedon? Well….the Parakeet hadn’t bought Little O any snowpants this year.  She kept meaning to, but wondered if he’d really use them and pretty soon it is February 1st and he has no snow pants and neither does Target. If Target doesn’t have it, ya’ll…..So she went to the trusty Village Discount and in a reliable 2T Navy Blue…VICTORY! Once the snow stops falling – surely it will be awesome to fall down all over it.

Two Side Notes:  1.  The Huz and Parakeet gave up their garage to cut expenses. On Feb 1st.  Unfortunate. 2.  The Parakeet took a call from her boss about getting their office a new refrigerator at some point during these errands. The phone is no where to be found – lost in the snowpocalypse between library and thrift. Unfortunate – again.

So, the blizzard came just as ‘they’ said. By 2pM the skies were looking white. The huz headed home around 2:30 and little O slept sound.  The Parakeet channeled her mid-western genes (biological and acquired) and put an Arm Roast in the crock pot with potatoes and onion and cream of mushroom soup.  Then, she worked on the computer until the Huz came through the door.

It snowed and snowed and snowed and howled and snowed.  They started Friday Night Lights on netflix. That show is good. They went to bed at 1AM. It was still snowing….

The next day…

That is our street. Under there. Somewhere.  At the top of the pic was a person walking around with skis. Smart thinking – they were moving quicker than most.

On the right, the poor car. Oh jeez….

Tromp-ing down the ‘sidewalk’

It’s hard to resist that pretty white SNOW!!


Long Time Readers, The Parakeet owes you an apology.  She hasn’t been filling you in on even the highlights of her hectic life in the city with a toddler and a husband.  Yes, husbands make things hectic. Do you have one?
It is part of her New Year’s Resolutions to get back on the blog.  Twice a week, you will hear from the little Bird.

Writing for this blog and choosing pictures and links is a nice little creative outlet, but more importantly – she has realized that it is her scrapbook and her memory lane.
Little O is getting so big these days.  He is going through so many changes, and because there is no large photo album in this house, she must take to the computer and catch it all before time, as they say, flies.

Looking forward to hearing more from all of you!

Folk and Roots

A few weekends ago our neighborhood had its annual “Folk and Roots” festival. The Parakeet and Huz have walked through most years and ate and drank and looked at trinkets and listened to the music in the background.  There is a “dance” tent and a “kids” tent and wonderful musicians on a main stage for two full days.  The whole event is a fundraiser for the Old Town School of Folk Music, which is just a pretty straight-up awesome place.
Anyway, this year one of the Parakeet’s dear friends invited the family to picnic and hang out at the Festival on the Saturday afternoon.  It was before O’s bedtime and since this friend is also his babysitter and pretty much favorite person – well, why not?
The Huz went to work a different music festival downtown (go, Chicago) and the Parakeet and Little O wheeled the little stroller into the park and parked it.  Little O was loving running around.  About ten minutes after they got settled on their blankets and un-packed snacks, some people from their church sat right next to them. So fortuitous since the eleven-year old often helps with nursery and absolutely loves Owen.  She had a small tent and a wagon with her and he was in HEAVEN.  Wandering between the two blankets, Little O stumbled into another circle of people who were sitting and drinking and enjoying themselves.
They were quite friendly, “how you doing, buddy?”
O took one look at the guy with hair to his shoulders and a beard and  yelled, “Monster!” and ran back to his mommy.

A Couple Earthy Things

So.. it’s no secret that the Parakeet has a heart for environmental issues. If memory serves correct, there were even green recycling triangles on her campaign posters in seventh grade for Student Council Secretary.

She tries to make choices that will reduce her consumption in general.  Of course – there are just so many choices in a day – you can’t get them all “right”.

During June, her church is doing a sermon series on Creation Care. It has been so refreshing and interesting learning about conservation from a spiritual perspective.  The church has a composter in their garden any member can come dump kitchen waste in for free.  The Parakeet really wants to get a bucket.  The Huz really wants her to forget about this idea.  Any compost-ers out there? Suggestions?

The Huz and the Parakeet are getting their veggies, eggs, and meat this summer from a CSA largely for environmental reasons. It’s also yummy and healthy. They have used cloth diapers primarily for Little O since he was about one month old.  This saves money, but it really helps the environment.

Recently, the Parakeet borrowed this book from the library.  The crafts are lovely and it was an excellent reminder that often what we ‘need’ is right here in our homes.  OK – there are some extremes the bird will not go to – women’s cloth? No. That might make common sense, but it doesn’t make family sense.  There will be no covered enamel pot of soaking soiled fabric in their bathroom. A contradiction after cloth diapers? Probably.  One that the family is comfortable with? Definitely

But speaking of the diapers and of contradictions – they have to be washed every other day. twice. Then dried.  The Huz and Parakeet’s pastor announced that he and his wife decided not to use their dryer anymore. It’s a big strain on the power grid. Woah.  The Keet decided, though, that she could stop drying those diapers. The basement already has line hung all over the place and clothespins. So this week – the diapers and inserts have hung to dry. It’s working fine since usually the Parakeet does this laundry at night anyway – going to bed when she moves the diapers to the dryer and getting them in the morning. Now – she is hanging them on the line and getting them in the morning.

This is making her feel better about running the ACs constantly – maybe it will sort of kind of even out? Who knows? But mentally…it feels good.

Her new philosophy is that all the little things DO matter – take cloth bags to the store. Rinse out the ziploc baggies. Just don’t buy so many things.  Then – all the other times – when she goes through the drive-thru or buys a cheap plastic toy made in China or eats conventionally grown veggies from California in off-season – it’s OK. Because NOBODY is perfect.