Yarn Along {Stripey Balloon Pants FO & in-Action!}

I think I’ve knit this pattern out of my system now, at long last.  Maybe it’s the heatwave we’ve been experiencing these past few days here in Iowa, but I’m ready to move on-finally!!!-from woolly baby pants.  Harmon wore his new stripey version all day yesterday.  We were out & about a lot running many errands, buying a Speed Queen washing machine, chauffeuring Coralee to & from homeschool co-op classes & Band, hanging at two different coffee shops (yikes!), running down the sidewalks in town screaming (Harmon did that!), shrieking very shrilly at the library when it was time to put books away (again, Harmon, but I can see how you may have thought that was me-ha!), & then falling asleep in the car on the way home at 2PM because that’s a long day (I reiterate, that was Harmon falling asleep…I had a Venti-sized coffee at noon so I was wide-awake).  The Balloon Baby Pants held up great all day & did not sag out like the first pair so I’m glad I knit the smaller size with smaller needles this go.  Harmon is just such a peanut!  He is 14.75 months and this is the 5-8 MONTH size on US 2 needles with sportweight yarns.  Babies/toddlers definitely come in all sizes!

Harmon sure does LOVE books as of late.  Especially books about chickens or cats or peek-a-boo.

Joining in with Ginny.

February Heatwave

To say it’s been warm in Iowa the last few days is an understatement.  This is a heatwave!  I feel like it’s the end of April and I need to be out in the garden.  Iowa weather is very tricky.  It will probably snow next week.  Harmon is sure enjoying his first steps–literally–outside the past two days.  He was wary at first, but quickly took off & wandered aimlessly (or maybe not?) all over the yard.  He is still unsteady on his feet & fell over as much as he remained upright.  We discovered he is afraid of the dogs up close, would like to catch one of the cats, & doesn’t really care about the chickens up close, either.  

He’s telling me all about the rooster crowing in this photo.This is Louisa.  One of our favorite chickens at the moment.

On Saturday we headed east to the Mississippi River in Davenport for an Iowa Young Birders trip on Credit Island.  Lots of Ring-billed Gulls & Bald Eagles.June found many gull feathers + she was wearing her new spring jacket resplendent with flying gulls so she wanted her photo taken in front of a large flock of gulls hanging out on the ice.I’m posing, Mama, snap the photo!

Harmon’s first time on a swing!

Later we swung by the University of Iowa to pick up Harmon’s godmother (& cousin) Miss Bailey for lunch at our favorite place Sutliff Bridge & Tavern.  I’ve blogged about Sutliff several times over the years.Quizzing June on her bird knowledge.Harmon is generally very very wary of people other than his mama & Coralee, but he took to Bailey straight off!  So sweet! ❤Happy Weekend Warmth!

Yarn Along

Not much progress in the knitting department this past week–I apologize for continuing to bore you with the same WIP for like four+ weeks’ running now.  I haven’t been reading much either other than thumbing through the books I picked up on dairy goats, trying to read Goodnight Goon (a Goodnight Moon parody) in its entirety to Harmon (his current favorite book to carry around) before he toddles off, & enjoying the beautiful photo essay book on American Kestrels by Kate Davis.  Shameless plug- check out my “guest post” yesterday for more on this bright little falcon & maybe bid on some cool artwork while you’re there. 😉


I bought the Nui Organics shirt Harmon’s wearing in these cheeky photos to coordinate with his stripey Balloon Baby Pants, but the color in real life turned out to be more of a gold/orange than the fantastic yellow that is Quince & Co’s “Carrie’s Yellow” so I’ll have to keep looking for that “perfect” coordinating top (such a silly endeavor, yes, I know!).Harmon is so much fun right now!  He’s a goofy, but serious, little man & also soooooooooooo much a mama’s boy lately!  I thought once he began walking he’d bid me adieu, but he seems to be going in the other direction….now he just chases me around the house faster!  I’ve almost tripped over him so many times–I turn around & there his tiny self is when he wasn’t anywhere near me two seconds previous…he’s a sneaky little hobbit.  And so very short & petite it’s actually quite easy to trip over him!Joining in with Ginny.

Artwork Auction for Conservation: The American Kestrel

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“Vanishing in Plain Sight” by Coralee Bodeker

This is a “guest” blog post from my eldest, Coralee.  She writes a semi-monthly essay/column titled “A Prairie Girl’s Notebook” for both our local county conservation newsletter & for her email list of readers.  She’s been writing/illustrating the column since the fall of 2013 (when she began her homeschooling).  This particular essay is about a North American bird species–the American Kestrel, one of her [& my] favorites.  If you’d like to own a high-quality canvas print of the above drawing of an American Kestrel [with his second foot tucked up into his feathers–she gets asked about his “one foot” a lot], be sure to read to the very end of the post today!  Thank you!

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A Prairie Girl’s Notebook, Issue 23

January 5, 2017

Kestrels, An Iowa Legacy

A few years ago, a short drive down my gravel road would yield at least one, if not two, American Kestrels perched on a power line or hovering mid-air above the grassy ditch. These vibrantly colored, miniature falcons peppered the roadsides, diving into ditches whenever a car passed. Today, Iowa still hosts a breeding and wintering population of American Kestrels, but I have begun to count myself lucky to drive past a mere one kestrel per week rather than the daily sightings. This same scarcity has been occurring across the state; anecdotally, many birders are noticing fewer and fewer American Kestrels in their local areas, while hard data from formal Hawkwatch sites illustrates a steady decline. Scientists and raptor counters at Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County (Iowa’s only full-time Hawkwatch site) have recorded an overall downward trend in migrating American Kestrel populations for the past decade.  In our neighboring state, the Illinois Beach State Park Hawkwatch has recorded similar data trends. To put this in perspective, despite a considerable rise in contributing datasets, Bird Studies Canada also shows a downward drift in American Kestrel numbers since the 1950s and a recent nosedive spanning the past decade—Bird Studies Canada draws these numbers from a bank of over 7.6 million North American bird surveys including Hawkwatch counts, annual Christmas Bird Counts, FeederWatch reports, eBird surveys, and breeding bird surveys, to name a few. The decline in the American Kestrel population has been slowly looming, but it wasn’t until last fall that I truly noticed the scarcity in my own area. No breeding pairs nested near my neighbor’s prairie last summer for the first time in at least eight years.

Possibly the biggest hazard for American Kestrels to overcome today is the loss of their precious habitat. The once large expanses of pastures and prairies sufficient to sustain hunting American Kestrels have been crammed into roadside ditches as more and more land in Iowa is converted to farming.  More importantly, however, their nesting sites are being diminished. American Kestrels normally nest in dead trees on the edges of open grassland, but these trees are being removed (for a variety of reasons) and local American Kestrels are scattering to the wind. This species has more recently tried moving into towns and out of the rural areas in an effort to overcome habitat loss, but in towns American Kestrels face the threat of larger birds of prey, specifically the Cooper’s Hawk which will eat a kestrel.

A further danger facing American Kestrels is a decline in flying insect populations, which kestrels depend on to feed their young. A few years ago, when Iowans filled their cars up with gas they routinely wiped down their windshields to clean off the copious amounts of smashed bugs, but today many Iowans are finding the need for a Casey’s squeegee quite unnecessary.  I hadn’t given this conundrum much thought until rather recently when I obtained my learner’s permit to drive.  A disturbing example of how an often-overlooked animal can disappear literally before our eyes.

With fewer Kestrels around my home, I wonder what has happened to their daring aerial displays, their hunting chases and jaw-dropping turns and dives I’m so used to watching? What has happened to the American Kestrels that once lined the roads and swooped out over the fields as cars passed? Did these birds simply disappear over the horizon to some distant state? Will the same thing happen to the American Kestrel that has already happened to so many other North American raptors, suddenly plummeting off the population charts like the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Osprey did so many years ago (albeit for other reasons)? Or will insightful, smart, compassionate people step in to save the American Kestrel before that last-hour collapse?  My hope is we can help the American Kestrel in time.  Iowa needs American Kestrels like we need the prairies and clean water.  This is Iowa.  This is our legacy.

 ‘A Prairie Girl’s Notebook’ is inspired by ‘A Naturalist’s Notebook’ penned by John Schmitt & found in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Living Bird journal.

If you would like to own a high-quality 12-inchX16-inch canvas print of the American Kestrel I drew for this essay and support American Kestrel conservation and research at the same time, PLEASE consider participating in my eBay auction (an eBay account is required in order to bid).  All proceeds from the auction will be split evenly between the Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation (funds earmarked for the Hitchcock Hawkwatch) and also The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership which works to advance conservation of the American Kestrel.  The auction runs for seven days and can be found using this web address: https://tinyurl.com/jfkf42c

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Canvas up for auction.

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Entry on the American Kestrel from Coralee’s Field Notebook.

References

Chi, Dora.  “Tracking Kestrels One Feather at a Time.”  Audubon.  National Audubon Society, 18 Aug. 2016, http://www.audubon.org/news/tracking-kestrels-one-feather-time.  5 Jan. 2017.

Davis, Kate.  American Kestrel: Pint-Sized Predator.  Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2014.

HawkCount.  Hawk Migration Association of North America, www.hawkcount.org.  Accessed 5 Jan 2017.

NatureCounts.  Bird Studies Canada, http://www.bsc-eoc.org/birdmon/default/main.jsp3. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.

Toll, Jerry.  Iowa Young Birders Trip to Hitchcock Hawk Watch/Hitchcock Nature Area, 24 Sept. 2016, Hitchcock Nature Center, IA.  Address.

Harmon’s Favorite Things: 14 Months 

Another edition!  Another month gone…

a) Harmon is still very VERY much a musical little guy.  He likes playing Coralee & Merritt’s old school recorders (walks around the house tooting away), but I couldn’t locate either recorder for the photo so I used an old loon call of mine from when I was a kid–he likes this, too.

b) These are June’s socks.   Since the beginning of the school year Harmon has enjoyed swiping June’s socks off the floor as she gets dressed in her pants/shirt…it’s become a fun game between the two of them made all the more entertaining now that he can walk!  Suffice to say, June wastes a lot of precious time in the mornings sometimes with her baby brother & her socks…

c) Harmonica!  Harmon continues his love affair with this instrument.

d) “A Day at the Beach” is a book my Grandma Darling (paternal grandmother from Texas) gave me when I was a toddler/preschooler.  Harmon found it on the bookshelf & has decided it is his favorite book at the moment.  He doesn’t really want us to read it to him, he just likes to carry it around & occasionally sit down to flip through it.  He has also thrown it in the bathtub…not cool, little man!

e) Used dryer sheets…I do not get this obsession, but it continues this month.

f) My knitting notions bag–he loves emptying this bag so much he was swiping it off the bed as I took the photo!  He especially likes to unravel the knitting tape measure & drag it around like a puppy on a leash.

g) Brushes.  He loves to brush his hair.  He will use anything to do so, but we try to promote using the actual tool for the job.

h) A PLAN toys pull-along dog.  For a few days recently he was very much infatuated with this toy–not pulling it, just playing with it and pushing it.  He’s lost interest now.

i) Real shoes!  Harmon finally needs a real pair of shoes for leaving the house & he very much enjoys it when we put the shoes on his feet.  Hope it lasts!  He has TINY feet, however, & I had a little trouble finding non-crib shoes for his mini feet.  Went back to my old standby for baby shoes–pediped.  Merritt wore this brand as a toddler, too.

j) Coralee’s knit cat ‘Bubbles’–both Coralee & Merritt have one of these large knit cats.  Harmon likes hugging both & dragging around the house.

k) Doll teepee.  This is June’s toy to go along with her Native American wooden dolls.  It has a handle on top & Harmon likes to carry it around, kind of like it’s his purse.

l) Balls of all kinds, but especially golf balls.

m) Old school “My Little Pony” combs remain a favorite.

n) Wild Kratts!  Well, the theme song to [PBS show] “Wild Kratts”–he dances & shakes his torso whenever he hears the theme play.  He carries the DVD cases around & says “Wha wha.”  His siblings LOVE this show more than probably any other show & Coralee’s 14.5!  Merritt’s almost 12!  Science never gets boring, thank goodness. 🙂

He fell asleep in his carseat once clutching one of his recorders.Pardon the poor quality photo [this post is full of these, unfortunately]–more recorder love!Dryer sheet love.

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This is embarrassing to admit…Harmon is ridiculously obsessed with chips.  Ugh!  His dad is sort of a chip-aholic.  We don’t eat chips everyday or anything like that, but Harmon has developed a very bad habit of wanting chips.  If we’re shopping & he sees a bag on the conveyor belt, he goes nuts reaching for the bag, whining, etc.  He still only has one tooth so the only way he ever gets chips is if I chew one up for him first.  Needless to say, chips are no longer making an appearance at any of our meals & no one is allowed to eat chips when Harmon is awake anymore.  He was kissing the bag in the above photo.

He loves being in our master bathroom, even in the dark.  I think he likes throwing things in the empty tub & shutting the door mostly…he also likes to play in the hanging cloth diaper bag (yuck!) & in the trash bin.  We’ve moved the trash now due to him emptying the contents into the tub one afternoon.  He thought it was very funny!

Balls are very entertaining.

img_83551I included these photos to show him with the doll teepee, but I snapped the photos because the ribbed waist of his Balloon Baby Pants had gotten so stretched out one day that it just fell down!  He couldn’t figure out what was going on, it was hilarious.  He finally just took the silly pants off.

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img_83071I couldn’t end with those crazy pants-falling-down photos so I just threw in this napping photo.  He is taking a longer nap now (HOORAY!), but still taking one in the morning & again in the afternoon.

Other new things this month include learning to give “kisses” or “smooches” & saying “muah!” when he does so–it’s adorable!  Coralee taught him the “muah!” part. He also walks around with his arms stretched out to the sides when he wants a hug or to be picked up.  He walks quite well, but no running yet.

He can say mama, dada, wow, bye (he said that for the first time today!), and he makes the cock-a-doodle-do sound when he sees a chicken out the back porch windows or hears one of our roosters crowing.  When he wants something he smacks his mouth–this has meant “I want that” for several months running now.  It used to just mean he wanted to nurse, but now it’s a general “give me that”!  He babbles constantly at home.  He’s quite shy when we’re out & about, but hollers loudly unabashedly if he wants something.

Meal time is still incredibly tricky due to his dairy allergy (we think it’s an allergy at this point–I still mean to blog about it) & his one lousy tooth!  He needs some teeth!  A second bottom one is in the works, but as Brian pointed out last week, he needs some on top, too, if he’s going to chew better.  I’m sure it will happen soon & then I’ll miss his gummy smile.

We have a very VERY bad problem with boxelder bugs in the house this winter & Harmon has decided finding one crawling on the floor is a real “treat” & tries to eat the buggers–GROSS, I know!  And probably dangerous.  I have to be very vigilant.  I spend five minutes or more every morning looking for bugs on the floors & subsequently squash them or pitch ’em back outside into the cold.  I hate those things.

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Happy 14 Months, Harmon Hunter!

Yarn Along (it’s in there somewhere)

I began watching my daycare girl this week (almost four years old) & her six-week-old sister…I think the two days per week they’re here are just going to be a hot mess for everyone involved, at least for awhile.  Harmon’s Balloon Pants are almost finished & I’ve begun reading up on keeping dairy goats.  Drinking a lot of coffee & making a lot of bottles.  Harmon was definitely out of sorts with the baby here.  He also is suffering from a big time allergic reaction to a dairy test (I’ll blog on that later this week).  The knitting is in there somewhere.  And Harmon’s little hand.

Joining in with Ginny!