Thursday, 28 May 2015

And now for something completely different: red-tailed hawk...

On one of the days last week when we walked home from the library (not a short walk), we went through K-State, as per usual, only on this day there was quite the commotion coming from a tree, with small birds making a fuss, calling out and making lots of noise. 

It was almost like the birds were calling out "Murderer! Murderer!" as if one of their own had been taken by a cat or a bigger bird. 

And it was a bigger bird that they were trying to scare off.

Only this hawk, most likely a red-tailed hawk, was eating a squirrel. It wasn't long before the small birds had given up hope of getting rid of the hawk and the hawk was happily eating away.

It kept an eye of us as we took photos, but it wasn't that interested in us and kept eating its squirrel.

As it continued to eat its lunch, the hawk ripped off tufts of fur that drifted to the grass below the tree, confirming that yes, it was eating a squirrel. Poor squirrel. But it was pretty cool to see the hawk.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Last week...

We had Michael at home! He had to go into work a few times, but still, he was mostly home and it was a bit of a holiday.

We spent time hanging out, Geocaching, drinking coffee, baking and eating cookies and cake, watching DVDs, and staying home out of the rain. It was nice. Plus, with Michael home, I hardly had to change a nappy or take Jimmy to the toilet (we started potty training Jimmy many months ago, it's been a slow process, and whenever Michael is home Jimmy requests "Daddy take toilet!").

There was also the borrowing of a sewing machine... Oh I've missed sewing! I'm looking forward to having a sewing machine of our own (again), especially as I think about the two big boxes of fabric and patterns that are in storage in Australia.

And while the sewing machine and other sewing bits and pieces are getting a workout, the camera was feeling a little sidelined. The same went for writing, although there was no lack of inspiration.

More soon.

Monday, 25 May 2015


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

Jimmy: Look at those chompers!

There is a post coming, regarding what we have been up to this past week, but the short version is: we've been at home, enjoying Michael's company as he took the week off work, and staying out of the rain.

While staying inside we had to find ways to keep Jimmy entertained. Sometimes this means posing for Daddy's camera. And so, yes, this photo of Jimmy (and his big, tooth filled, mouth) was taken by Michael - they have so much fun together, my cheeky boys.

Monday, 18 May 2015


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

Jimmy: Go find Geocache.

We have a keen Geocacher on our hands. We also have a little boy who forms sentences and likes digging.

Michael took this one while he was out Geocaching with Jimmy on the weekend, while I made a quick trip to the library.

Michael also put together this gif of Jimmy jumping, and I can't decide if the action is so much more fun than the stills.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Jimmy chose a movie...

He pulled it off the shelf at the library on the weekend, it was rather random and he actually grabbed a handful... Michael put the other two movies back on the shelf but we kept "My Family and Other Animals".

Our expectations were moderate given the fact that we had never heard of the movie, let alone the man behind the story, Gerald Durrell. With Imelda Staunton (aka Dolores Umbridge) as the mother, plus a few familiar faces (it is a BBC production), we figured we couldn't go wrong.

Straight from the Amazon page for the book:
My Family and Other Animals is the bewitching account of a rare and magical childhood on the island of Corfu by treasured British conservationist Gerald Durrell.
And if that wasn't enough, from the same page:
'What we all need,' said Larry, 'is sunshine... a country where we can grow.' 'Yes, dear, that would be nice,' agreed Mother, not really listening. 'I had a letter from George this morning - he says Corfu's wonderful. Why don't we pack up and go to Greece?' 'Very well, dear, if you like,' said Mother unguardedly. Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family - acne-ridden Margo, gun-toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long-suffering mother and Roger the dog - take off for the island of Corfu. But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna - among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies.
It's a hilarious and innocent adventure, with only the slightest shadow of the unfolding war. Oh it was funny! I'm not sure how I managed to get through life without coming across it sooner. I wish it had been part of the English curriculum at school, but I guess naturalists were never high on the agenda, which is a shame because we need more of them.

I have added "My family and other animals" to my reading list, but time constraints of a stay-at-home mum indicate that it might be a while before I get my hands on the book (and read it cover to cover, probably out loud to Jimmy). In the meantime, the 90 minutes spent watching the 2005 BBC TV movie were very well spent minutes and I highly recommend it. Hopefully we get a chance to watch it again before we return it to the library.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Over the weekend we...

I'm starting our weekend on Friday afternoon, because it just feels right. It was a relaxing afternoon, full of promise, and no rain. Last week was rather wet and rainy, which was lovely, because everything is green, but it wasn't conducive to spending time outside or even heading to playgroup - turns out it was actually closed most of the week due to minor flooding. But on Friday afternoon I took Jimmy to Cico park.

Jimmy went down the slides, tried out the merry-go-round, tried to catch a robin or two, insisted that I climb into the fake wagon, and join him going through the tunnel. He loves going through tunnels... there's a blog post to write... We had a nice time, even if we had less than an hour there, because we didn't leave in time to catch the earlier bus and because we had a date with Daddy planned (and the bus only comes hourly). So, we had to leave before Jimmy was really done going down the slides, but the promise of Daddy and a snack kept the grumbles away.

We were still enjoying cloud cover, but that does present its own problems, especially when it comes to taking photos. Light balance was my main issue for the weekend. Michaels' was a lense that is not working as it should.

Now, get a cup of tea, get comfy, as the following is photo heavy, because it's spring!

Monday, 11 May 2015


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

Jimmy: Smell flower.

Not exactly roses, but stopping to smell flowers nonetheless and enjoying the sunshine.

Happy mothers day!

Friday, 8 May 2015

I'm not sleeping...

When we first moved here, Michael and I were both terrified about the prospect of being in Tornado Alley, in the middle of tornado season. It didn't seem to matter that people kept trying to reassure us with statements like "I've lived in Manhattan for nearly 30 years and the only tornado to come through here was the one in 2008". Michael and I still created a small stockpile of food and used empty milk bottles to store emergency water, I even put together an evacuation pack with nappies and spare clothes and our passports.

And every night that it stormed I would wake up and stay awake until the storm passed. I would listen to the thunder as it rolled over the hills, around the town, and through the sky. I would watch Michael sleeping and prepare myself to wake him and scoop Jimmy up into my arms and run for the storm shelter.

Between that, the mugginess that resulted from having to close the windows, and a little boy who had returned to breastfeeding like a 3 month old baby, I wasn't sleeping very much.

Thursday, 7 May 2015


 It started with jumping off the bed, which wasn't exactly jumping... 

It was more of a step-and-stumble affair... 
And it kept going... He started improving... 

Then he started actually jumping - both feet off the bed at once... 
 And he started getting some height... Now he is cheeky about it...

It is wonderful that he is confident in his ability to jump...
And now Jimmy is jumping of everything he possibly can: boxes, retaining walls, the bottom of slides, stairs, Daddy... 

I love this age.

All photos taken by Michael.

Over the weekend we...

Went to the Kansas Sampler Festival in Wamego, KS. And it was all thanks to one of the local bus drivers that we found out about the festival. Naturally, we took the free bus from Manhattan to Wamego. Jimmy was pretty excited to be taking the bus, although he almost fell asleep on the drive. When we arrived we may have looked for a Geocache before entering the festival (we didn't find it).
One of the first things we did was check out a few animals, and although they were in cages, Jimmy saw a kangaroo (and joey!) for the first time EVER! (The top photo is him looking at the kangaroo.) Although gray and small, this kangaroo and her joey are Red Kangaroos... 
 Another Australian, a long way from home, was this Inland Bearded Dragon, who was not happy to be on display - the flat, low belly is the tell-tale sign. Perhaps the lizard was feeling homesick and not enjoying the humidity of the day...
 Jimmy thought the Alpaca was pretty cute, and we may have mentioned that it was similar to a Llama, just so that he had some sort of point of reference even if it comes from a book. Jimmy may now be a little confused...
 This kid knew how to pose... 
 This kid enjoyed being back outside after we went through one of the tents - it was full of some of the most beautiful photos of Kansas I have ever seen, but it was rather boring for a toddler...
Naturally, being outside and using the play equipment was a lot more fun. The slides were a hit, but the round-about was lots of fun, even if Jimmy and Michael only went on it once... 
Something else that Jimmy only did once, was go on the train. It was funny: while we were on it, Jimmy showed no signs of enjoyment. None. Every photo Michael took of us shows a rather serious looking little boy. And when our train ride was over Jimmy said "ride train again", but we didn't. We missed the afternoon session, and Jimmy wasn't too upset. 
Festival food thanks to Lindsborg Swedish Folk Dancers. What is it? They call it "Viking on a stick" and it is pieces of rye bread and meatballs covered in batter and fried. Jimmy kept taking the bread and refused the meatballs and wanted to drink our 'ouchy hot' coffee - not happening.  
 The Kansas Sampler Festival is essentially a state tourism festival, that is hosted by a different Kansas city each year. They put on a good show and chose the location well: Wamego City Park is also the site of their local museum, which we checked out, much to Jimmy's annoyance. It was there that we saw this old cot. I'm a little relieved that cots no longer look like this...
The museum is also home to this loom... 
 And this seriously enviable trunk, although I would prefer it without the fox skins...
 Speaking of skins, this taxidermied bison was just amazing, as was the museums collection of arrowheads, some of which are behind the bison...
 This old wheel chair was parked in the museum's basement, between an old car on the right and on the left...
 Were some seriously old school sleds!
By the time Jimmy and I reached the farmyard set up, Jimmy was over the museum and wanted to be out of the Manduca and let loose in the museum. Naturally, it is a very bad idea to let tired toddlers loose anywhere, so we left and went to a part of the festival we hadn't been to yet, in search of something Jimmy might enjoy...
 And this is where we found even more kids and a few goats, and they were for the patting! It took a few minutes for Jimmy to warm to the idea that he could pat the kids, but he watched a few children and then me and decided he'd give it a go. And he did very well. He needed a little instructing, especially to make sure that the animals knew that he was there before patting them, but the kids were so accustomed to being patted that they didn't flinch when Jimmy patted them and they couldn't see them. The kid that want to nibble Jimmy's clothes was a different matter, but Jimmy handled that well too...
 Jimmy even patted this mega donkey, although in the photo I'm trying to get him to look at Daddy. Seriously, Michael and I have never seen a donkey this big. Thankfully, the donkey was very docile and we were able to let Jimmy feel the woolly coat of the donkey...
 Docile, he may have been, but that donkey was huge and there was no way I was going to let Jimmy's hands get near that mouth. There also seemed to be no way Jimmy was going to look at the camera and Daddy. Oh well. These last 3 photos were taken by Michael. Michael did out the camera aside long enough to pat the goats and the donkey.
We checked out a few more tents, the sun came out, and we saw this aeroplane. It was pretty cool and Jimmy was happy to have something interesting to look at - tourism tents are boring when you're under two, tired, and want to run around. We had a good look at the aeroplane, before heading to another tent or two. 

Jimmy was refusing to wear his hat, stay put, go in the Manduca, or do anything that Mum or Daddy wanted to do. He was happy to sample the foods that were on offer. When the time came, we headed to one of the music stages to see two members of our favourite local act performing some of their songs. Actually, I couldn't believe our luck when a) I found out that they would be performing (on both days of the festival) and b) that we were on the right side of the festival on the day we were there, so that we didn't have a long walk to see them. 
Michael took this photo. I was holding a sleeping little boy in my arms - the familiar music was enough to relax him and he passed out by the end of the second song. We really enjoyed seeing them, even if it was only Annie Wilson and Carl Reed from Tallgrass Express String Band. After their set, and after getting a sleeping Jimmy into the Manduca, I couldn't help myself and I told Annie that we were fans and we chatted for a few minutes. Definitely the highlight of the day for me.

We visited the remaining tents. Saw some sheep, and then... Oh gosh... Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh... I couldn't quite believe it: the 17 year cicada was due to emerge this spring. No, I did not "play it cool" - we will be keeping our eyes peeled for these babies in little under 2 weeks, possibly going on a late night walk, just to make sure that we do see them. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever actually get a chance to see the 17 year cicada, yet here it is. Oh gosh...

After all that excitement, we found a quiet place to sit in the shade to relax and run around a little, before we headed out of the festival to wait for our bus home. When we did get home, we were exhausted. Ok, so Jimmy somehow still had energy to jump off the retaining wall, but we were pooped and gladly accepted our neighbours offer of tea. 

Sunday was spent recovering from a day of being outside. It was a good weekend.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

Jimmy: Still, for just a moment...

Michael has taken so many lovely photos of Jimmy this week, so many that show off his funny, zany personality, so many of him moving. And somewhere in amongst them, Michael managed to capture this portrait: Jimmy sitting still. The other photos will be up in a few days, and one of them nearly made the cut this week, but I really want to share this portrait, because it shows Jimmy's face, it shows our little boy, and it shows him post-haircut.