Switching It Up

In an effort to make a little extra cash for my family, I have decided to switch my blog to a server that allows me to include advertising on my blog.  So, goodbye WordPress and hello Typepad.  I tried to import all of my WordPress posts, but the pictures and layout were not transferred completely.  Therefore,  I suggest that all posts previous to this date should be viewed at https://littlebirdiestakewing.wordpress.com, but any posts after February 19th, 2012 should be viewed at http://www.littlebirdiestakewing.com.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, especially for my subscribers.  If you wish to continue to subscribe to hear about my new posts via email, then click on the link in the sidebar of http://www.littlebirdiestakewing.com.  The link is right under the little Welcome paragraph.  It should only take a second to sign up and we will greatly appreciate your efforts.

Another benefit to this new site is the Books We Like page.  I signed up to be an Amazon Associate, so I receive 15% from any books you purchase through my site.  If you have a local bookstore, then please continue to purchase your books there.  But if you already use Amazon, then link up with them through my site and help fund our journey!

Hopefully, I will include advertising soon.  If you are interested in sponsoring us, then contact me at heathertiszai@gmail.com and we can work out a deal.

Thank you all for reading, making comments, and sending us good vibes!  I promise to write a more interesting update soon.  Best wishes!

Leaving Lusa

We love this dog, Lusa!

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Once I realized, seven years ago, that Joey and I were settled in Bellingham and Joey was going to be working on tugs headed for Alaska, I decided I needed a dog.  I’ve always loved animals but hadn’t found the ability to commit to one.  I guess home ownership somehow equates into pet ownership, so there I was looking for a dog.  As soon as the decision was made, I knew exactly where to start my search.  As part of my job with the Bellingham Cooperative School, I would pick up kids at Happy Valley Elementary to bring them to the aftercare program I facilitated at BCS.  Every day I watched, with admiration, a Mom walking to pick up her son with her dog faithfully following behind with no leash or necessary comments keeping him in line.  They were a unit, Allison and Cedar.  Cedar was the joy of many children getting out of school, and he gratefully rolled over to get lots of belly rubs.  Somehow I knew that Allison would find my dog for me.  And she did.  She was the only person I talked to about looking for a dog, and a few weeks later she told me about Lusa.  Her friend, Cary Lane, had a habit of rescuing dogs from sad conditions.  She had a whole pack at that moment and needed to find homes for them.  Lusa was one year old and had lived with a family that tied their dogs up and then chose to ignore them.  As soon as I saw Lusa, I knew that she was the dog for me. She had the spark in her eyes, the knowing.  Life with her has been rich.  We have had incredible adventures together and she has always provided us with stories to tell around campfires.

We had hoped she would be a boat dog.  It proved difficult enough just to get her used to the car.  Boats are entirely too stressful for her.  We will miss her while we sail, but we find solace in knowing that Grandma is eager to share lots of love with her.  This Valentine’s Day has been full of Lusa snuggles and love.  Tomorrow we promise her one last long walk before we say Goodbye for now.  We are going to miss her!

Home in the Carolinas

We are done with long drives.  Hallelujah!  Not that it was all bad, but it is time for it to be over.  Our car is too full to stay organized.  Every time I go searching for a needed item, my leg room somehow grows smaller and the piles of stuff become less stable.  Also, I will have to partake in some kind of extended detox diet to counteract the consumption of road food that I found myself option-less against.  Usually I pack enough food for a year, even when I’m only going for a weekend.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t space in the car for such a luxury on this expedition, and I found that non-GMO, organic, free range food is not really available along the I-10 corridor.  Luckily there were always hawks, lots of hawks that gave me hope that all is not lost in the world outside of the little utopia of Bellingham, WA.

The best part of the road trip was hanging out with Juniper and Pearl with no interruptions and no other agenda.  Joey and I are blessed with the two most awesome travelers that any wanderlust couple could ever hope for.  We shared stories, sang songs, sewed flower fairies and hearts, made cards, listened to good music, read books, drew pictures, ate lots of rice cakes with almond butter and jam, dressed and undressed dolls, watched the world go by, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

The other good part has been cousins and aunts and uncles.  It has been heart warming to see the girls reconnect with our family.  There has been much laughter and lots of fun.

We will soon be to Grandma’s.  Joey will take his leave to prepare the boat for a toddler and her older sister.  I will do our taxes.  The girls will do lots of puzzles.  Lusa will take lots of walks and get lots of snuggles.  I’m starting to get a little teary at the thought of leaving Lusa behind.  But I know that she detests boats, and Grandma is thrilled to have her company.  Every journey has its share of sacrifice along with its rewards.

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Pearl’s letter and a lots of thanks

Pearl summed up things quite nicely in this letter that she dictated to me for her school friends:

Dear Friends,

I have been having fun except for when Lusa bit a porcupine on a ranch in Colorado.  We had to take Lusa to a vet to get the quills out.  We saw a hot air balloon.  We fed alpacas.  We saw an ice castle that was big.  We stayed in a motel last night in Texas.  A motel is a place where you open the door to the outside.

In the van, I sit in the back with my mom and my sister.  Lusa sits in the front seat next to Papa.  The van is full of bags.  The bags have clothes, sewing things, art kits, sleeping bags, stuffed animals, blankets, dolls, food, and tea.  We make presents, listen to stories, take naps, draw, and eat in the van.

My favorite part of the trip so far has been in the van because I am a traveler.  I miss my bunny and all of you.  Little Rose [Pearl’s doll] is enjoying the trip.

Love, Pearl

The only thing that I need to add is that I no longer need to regret that we did not have room for skis or snow gear, as there was hardly any snow in Colorado.  I guess Mother Nature didn’t want me to feel like I was missing out.  Now that we have passed, winter storms are being forecasted.

Acknowledgements thus far:

Many people have helped us along on our journey and a little thanks is in order.   Thanks to April, Jeff, Greysen, and Olive for being the best friends we could ever possibly wish for.  We also thank you for feeding us, helping with the girls and whatever else we seem to need, always being ready to hang out, and for taking such great care of our animals in our absence.  I want to give a special thanks to April for helping me laugh about all of life’s lessons and for always being there to support me.  And thanks to the April and Iris team for helping me get my Pleather on, even when I didn’t know I needed it.  Thanks to Sagit, Alex, and Elinor for giving us some fantastic accommodations while we packed up our house.  We know who to move in with, if ever we need to.  Thanks, Oso, for altering a harness for our little Juniper.  Thanks to Jess, Noah, and Isla Bandstra for the awesome activity bag.  We especially love the bird stickers and bird origami paper.  Thanks to all of our Bellingham friends for making such an incredible and supportive community to live in and for helping us feel so welcome and appreciated.

Thanks to the McDermotts- Barry, Susi, Leina, Marty, and Mira for adopting us as family so many years ago.  The binoculars Barry gave us have already helped us immensely. Today I got to see wood ducks so clearly!  The pocket Chapmans will be indispensable.  Barry, you always know how to give us the gifts we most need.  And you all share your Kirkland home with us so graciously.

Thanks Tammy and Dale for putting us up in Boise and making that awesome stew.  Juniper is still asking to see Tammy.

Thanks Grace, Brian, and Penny the cat for the sweet sleep and walk in Palisade, CO.  Pearl has been trying to sleep in forts ever since.  Pearl also reminds me daily that she promised Grace that we will stop back by on our return trip.

Thanks Sarah for such swell accommodations in the intern house on the Carpenter Ranch outside of Steamboat Springs, CO.  Lusa has fully recovered from her porcupine experience and it was so good to reconnect with you and Kristen.  The pickles are grand!

And thanks to Denise, Ken, Chase, and Casen here in New Braunfels, TX.  We are so comfortable and we saw some amazing birds today at Landa Park- LOTS of wood ducks, grackles, geese, an egret, and other birds that I have to figure out.  Oh yes, and we saw a nutria- funny, large, swimming rodents from South American that cause havoc in wetlands.  Pearl and Juniper are ever so happy to be with their cousins.

And many thanks to all of you who read this blog.  We feel your support and good wishes!

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And We’re Off

My fingers were shaking and my heart was racing as I turned the key to lock my clean, empty home.  Everything was out.  Our beds, artwork, and vast array of books were tucked into the outbuilding we recently constructed.  The canoe was nestled into our walled off, half of the garage with our bikes, gardening tools, and dishes.  While my home was empty of its stuff, my mind reeled with memories as I mopped the floors.  Babies born, friendships forged, songs sung, meals shared, books read, games played, projects created, gardens grown are all part of the richness that Joey and I created together within these walls and on this little plot of land.

And ever so quickly, under the cover of night, we were gone.  The car was loaded down and a bit squirrely under the weight of 700 feet of line, an anchor, chain, books, games, art materials, and clothes.  If you do anything with boats and you find yourself in Bellingham, WA, you must make your way to Pacific Marine Exchange (www.pacificmarine.com), a store of previously owned marine equipment and supplies.  We saved an incredible amount of money there.  Now we just have to share the car with our bounty.

We are spending the day with family like friends in Kirkland, recovering from three days of a mad dash to get out of the house.  We are resting and getting ready for the long drive to more family and friends and finally the boat in Charleston, SC.  While we all feel some sadness in leaving our chosen clan, incredible friends, inspiring community, and lovely life in Bellingham, the joys of travel are upon us.

Snowy Owl Magic

The Snowy Owls have come to the outskirts of Bellingham this winter.   They have traveled far from their arctic tundra home in search of food.  As I clean out my cupboards and feel disgruntled about the amount of waste and excess I find there, I reflect on the goals of my family’s journey.

Journeys provide lessons and magic.   The journey of the snowy owls brings us a glimpse of wildness and courage.  These owls have come to our rooftops from a place so remote that few people ever venture there.  By traveling into new landscapes and facing unknown dangers, they exercise bravery and adaptability in their necessary quest to survive.  Our house is nearly packed and we plan to leave this week.  We are not seeking food for our bodies, there is much more than we need here.  We must then be seeking food for our souls.  To find a patch of wildness, to experience the richness of personal discovery together, and to share our society’s wealth with others also takes great courage.  In these moments of preparation, I have found that courage in snowy owl magic.

I hope that on our journey we will lighten our load of consumption and reduce our environmental footprint.  I also hope that we can share the abundance of our privileged American life.  I want to give special thanks to Crystine and Brian from Uprising Organics (www.uprisingorganics.com) for donating A LOT of organic, heirloom seeds to share with people in the Bahamas.  I also want to thank Rowan for visiting the owls with us on a blustery, snowy afternoon and for helping me to contemplate the enriching process of creating art with children.

Rowan's Snowy Owl

Pearl's Snowy Owl

putting on my running shoes

For years now I have watched a group of ladies run past my house on Sunday mornings headed for Galbraith.  In the beginning I had no interest in joining the group.  I had no interest in running, alone or with others.  I had tried running a few times, but it never seemed fun.  Walking always seemed more my speed.  And I could walk a long way through any kind of weather.  I was content with my walking pace.  I was happy to go slow and notice what was going on around me.

About a year ago, walking stopped being enough.  It happened one random night.  I really like walking at night.  This particular night was one of the first times since the birth of Juniper that I made it out of the house without her strapped to my back.  I was walking through the park, enjoying the crisp air, and admiring the shimmer of the stars I was lucky enough to see.  And then it happened.  I needed to go faster.  So, I started to run.  I ran freely and joyfully.  I was surprised at myself.  I was actually enjoying running for the first time in my life.

And then it became a habit.  Well, addiction is probably a better description.  I needed to run and still do.  I found that life is so much more manageable with a run under my belt.  I can get pissed off at my husband, go for a run, and then come home with hugs and kisses for him.  My kids will be driving me crazy, but running makes them seem angelic.  I travel faster with running and can go places on the mountain and in the park that I never had time for with walking.

I started getting up with the sun and running in my backyard on Galbraith Mountain with some other mothers from the neighborhood.  I soon learned how to keep up and felt blessed to have amazing scenery and awesome ladies at my doorstep.  Last Mother’s Day, I joined a large group of women for an hour and a half run on the mountain.  It took a few days to recover, but I did it.  And then this past fall I ran the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon.  As I ran through the streets of Bellingham, looking out at the water, and being blown away by incredible wind, I reflected on my life here in Bellingham and saw clearly the healing and growth that enabled me to be there, running.

And today I finally joined that group of ladies, thanks to my neighbor Carol.  Of course they were much faster and I questioned my sanity, but one must try.  I soon decided that I would not complete the ten miles they had planned, but stick with my old faithful route.  And at the junction where we would split, there was another group of ladies ready to run in my intended direction.  So I joined them, found that they were of my pace, and followed them on new paths.  We ran through snow with sunshine slanting through the trees illuminating the beauty of this magical winter morning.  I made it home after two hours of frolicking on the mountain.  I felt strong and capable and so very thankful that I landed in Bellingham.  This place has given me the ability to put on my running shoes.

with a little help from my kids

As we get closer to our departure date, I am becoming increasingly excited for the time I will have with my kids in the natural world.  The boat is small, but the air will be warm and the beaches are vast.  I have always needed to spend time in the outdoors.  This need has become even more pronounced with children in my daily life.

With children though, the quality and focus of time spend outdoors has shifted a bit. I no longer try to see how far I can make it on a trail.  I cannot be attached to preparing a garden bed AND getting it planted in the same morning.  Instead, I have learned acceptance.  I have been given an opportunity to learn how to be more present and aware in the here and now.  As we walk in the woods, we stop to play hide and seek, finding special spots to be still and quiet.  We marvel at millipeds and search endlessly for owls.  In the rivers, we look at rocks and fill our pockets with treasures.  In the garden, we search for worms and beetles.  We take frequent snacks on garlic chives and kale, all the while singing songs and listening to birds.

Aldo Leopold said that “when we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”  Perhaps to build this sense of community with nature, we must start by thinking like children.  How rich we may become, if we can all spend time each day outside, thinking like a kid, and experiencing the beauty of the present moment.

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How do you put your kid hat on?  How do you develop and foster a connection with the natural world?  We love comments.

And we have a Bristol…almost

It looks as though we have a boat, although nothing feels absolute until the paperwork is in hand.  We negotiated a realistic price for us dependent on an engine survey, which luckily checked out just fine.  The check goes in the mail tomorrow.  The name will have to be changed. Lazy Faire just won’t do. 

We also have a great family renting our house, a huge relief.  We push-off from Bellingham at the end of January.  Currently, our path will take us through Colorado, down to San Antonio, and then to the Carolinas.  We never have been good at traveling in a straight line.  Hopefully, we will set sail out of Charleston harbor come early March.  Fingers crossed for fair winds.

What to Say?

We get mail from almost every conservation group in the country.  I often question the efficiency of these mailings, but that could be the subject of a whole other post.  Today we got a map of the country from the Sierra Club.  I’ve been meaning to take a look at potential routes across the country for our upcoming road trip.  Luckily, this one had all of the major highways and cities labeled.  I eagerly called Pearl in to take a look with me.  She quickly become bored as I verbally weighed the options of spending the night in Albuquerque versus Santa Fe.  She wanted to see the map on the other side with pictures of beautiful endangered animals in their native regions.  She started asking questions, the likes of which I can’t fully remember because I was honestly thinking about skiing in Colorado.  All of a sudden I heard myself respond that “they” were worried about these animals.  Well, really I heard her ask, “Why are they worried about the polar bear?”  And there it was, what for me is a really big topic.

Before working with young children and having my own, I thought all knowledge to be good knowlegde.  I always wanted to learn as much as possible, especially about the natural world.  As I switched gears from being an environmental educator for high school and college kids to working with young children,  I realized that some things are better left unsaid.  Young kids need the warm and fuzzy.  They need to feel safe and good about the world.  They need reassurance that bad guys don’t win.  Sadly,  today’s environmental issues, such as hyper-rapid climate change, food security, and wildlife habitat loss, don’t really fit that bill.

With my kids, I try to foster an intimate relationship with the natural world.  We spend time outside every day.  We find beauty in the swirling clouds, the caw of the crow, the sharp scent of rubbed sage, the softness of moss, a newly germinated pea plant emerging from the soil, and the sweet taste of a perfectly ripened strawberry.  Our list for all things beautiful in nature is infintite.  At their young age, I do not burden them with the knowledge that our climate is changing at such an accelerated rate that habitat loss is inevitable and the polar bear is likely doomed.  Where is the beauty in that?  Their lives are long.  There will be lots of time for them to worry, ponder, and hopefully find solutions for these harsh realities.  So, I was a little shocked to be on the edge of such a big conversation.  I sat down and took a deep breath and remembered that keeping it simple works best, always.

“They are worried that there are not as many polar bears as there used to be,” I say.  “They want people to help the polar bears.”  She proceeded to ask how people can help polar bears.  “By riding bikes,” I tell her.  She giggled and giggled and giggled some more.  Finally she calmed down enough to ask about ways of helping the other animals on the poster-  keeping trees by streams for the salmon,  buying food from local farmers to help the whooping crane, taking your own shopping bags to the grocery store for the Kirtland’s Warbler, and keeping hotels off the beach for the Hawaiian Monk Seal.  She’d heard enough.  She walked away giggling to herself that she could help polar bears by riding her bike.  It seemed for her silly, fun, exciting, and BEAUTIFUL.