Friday, March 20

Swans at Lasalle Park, Burlington, Ontario

As you know, hubby and I searched out Lasalle Park on Burlington Bay on Sunday. Mom has always wanted to see swans up close and so on Tuesday, I took her and the boys to Lasalle. There were a lot of swans at the Park on Sunday, but one of the volunteers told us on Tuesday that 100 Trumpeters had left late Monday afternoon to make their way north to the Arctic. There they will nest on the tundra. The swans will return in late November to winter here once more.
The photo above shows some Trumpeter swans swimming with a pair of Mallard ducks. The mallards are fun to watch.
The photo above is of a Mute swan. Mutes have orange beaks and Trumpeters beaks are black.

The Trumpeters in the photo above were swimming right at the boat ramp. Some of them came up on the shore. They have no fear of humans.

Another beautiful Mute swan above. These are magnificient creatures, just a little smaller than the Trumpeters.

A pair of Mallard ducks. The female is diving for food. These ducks are quite comical to watch.

A juvenile Trumpeter. The juveniles have a lot of gray. They don't turn completely white until they are fully matured.

Mute swans gathering near the boat ramp. They also have no fear of humans.

Swans, seagulls, Mallard ducks and Canadian geese were all at Lasalle Park on Tuesday. The volunteer that was there feeding the swans corn was very knowledgeable. He told us which swans were mates and also that Trumpeters mate for life. He did say that sometimes if one dies, that the other may take another mate after a time. He also told us that we could find more information on Trumpeter swans at the website of Wye Marsh.

The boys begged me to take them back to Lasalle Park today and they wanted to take Dakota. These are the photos that were taken today.

Most of the Trumpeters were gone today. There are a number of juveniles still there. They often stay in the park over the summer months, but adults all migrate north for the mating and nesting season. However, the photos above is of Mute swans.
A volunteer feeding the swans a bit of corn. This happens daily through the winter months, but in the summer they let the swans fend for themselves. The food they find in the bay is nutritious and allows them to stay healthy and independent of humans.

Here are a few Trumpeters that were still there today. There were more ducks in the Bay today than on my other two visits.

And of course Dakota was exploring the world. The boys were having a blast watching the swans and taking the puppy for a walk. Brandon enjoys walking Dakota.

The boys didn't have very good control of this hyper little guy when I was trying to take this photo. I'm glad the man likes puppies. LOL He reached down and gave Dakota a rub, which isn't a wise thing to do when a puppy is being taught not to jump up. However, since he was being attacked by an excited Dakota, I couldn't say too much.
The man escaped with his wife and his leg and Dakota went on exploring the world. Just after this photo was taken, Dakota got the leash around his front leg. I told Jordan to lay the leash on the ground and let the pup step out of it. Well...he laid it completely on the ground and the pup was off and running toward the water. Good thing that I'm quick and put my foot on it or we would have been driving home with one wet puppy.

We all had fun, though it was very chilly on the lakeshore today. The wind was coming right across the Bay and the water was very choppy. However, we were all out in the fresh air and got a bit of exercise. Hope you've enjoyed your week as much as we have. Enjoy your weekend. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, March 19

Swan Watching

On Sunday, hubby and I took Dakota and decided to search out Lasalle Park in Burlington, Ontario. I had seen on Ruth's blog that the Trumpeter and Mute swans had spent the winter there. I know that the swans leave sometime in March to go north to the tundra to nest. I wanted to take Mom and the boys to see them.

Above, a juvenile swan in the foreground. You can tell it's a juvenile because it is quite gray. The white feathers don't come in until the bird matures. There were also Canadian geese and some mallards in the area.
Look at all the beautiful swans. The ones with the black beaks are Trumpeters and they make a honking sound--like a trumpet. The orange-beaked swans are Mutes. They make very little noise. It's more like a soft hissing.

A shot from the boat ramp. On the horizon you can see a factory belching smoke. Pollution galore spews from the smoke stacks.

I was lucky to get a seagull swooping over the Bay with this shot. It's amazing what digital cameras will pick up and mine isn't the best of digital cameras. The Skyway Bridge is in the background.

I finally got hubby to take a photo of Dakota and I. He is getting big and I knew if I was going to have a photo of me holding him, it had to be soon. When he visited the vet on March 2, he weighed 13 lbs. He's no longer the little 5 lb. baby we brought home at the beginning of February.

Dakota loved the swans and watched them carefully, though he didn't try to chase them or bother them in any way. He did pick up the odd feather he found and tossed it into the air. People stopped to talk to him and pet him and he had a great day going along for the ride. We all enjoyed the outing.

On Tuesday, I took Mom and the boys to Lasalle Park, which is on Burlington Bay, so they could see the swans. I was surprised at how many birds had left since Sunday. I will post Tuesday's photos tomorrow. I actually got some awesome shots because there were less people present.

Our weather has turned chilly, just in time for the official arrival of spring. In fact, tonight as I'm typing this, snowflakes are drifting from the sky and there's actually a bit of accumulation on the roofs of houses and cars.

The nice weather this week has spoiled us. When the boys and I were out and about today, we were actually chilly with our winter coats on. Dreams of spring continue. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, March 18

A Trip to the Dog Park

Last Saturday was a beautiful day, so we decided to pick up the boys and take Dakota to the dog park. It's very important that puppies be socialized and what better place to meet other dogs.

When we arrived, it was quite muddy. We picked our way through the park to the west end where it was relatively dry.

Here is hubby, Brandon and Jordan heading west with Dakota. There weren't many dogs in that area, but as soon as they realized a puppy was present, they made their way to us. There were two dogs there that really wanted to play with Dakota, but he was very leery of them, as they were really hyper dogs. Above, one of them is chasing Dakota. Notice his tail is between his legs. However, it wasn't long before he made friends with a lab/border collie mix and she was ready and able to protect him. With a snarl, she sent the other dogs packing when they bothered him. Dakota and her had quite a time just getting to know each other.

It was a pleasant time for all of us and we plan to take Dakota back to the dog park soon. In the meantime he's made friends with a mastiff who walks by here all the time. That dog is huge, but they like each other and always seem to enjoy each other's company.

I hope you enjoyed coming along to the dog park. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, March 17

Through the Storm by Lynne Spears with Lorilee Craker

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be the mother of a child who rose to fame almost instantly? It wouldn't be easy. In Through the Storm, Lynne Spears tells us how her southern family was changed forever when Britney became an overnight success.

Lynne's life hasn't been easy. She was highly influenced by her father, who was a farmer and her war bride mother. She married very young and did her best to make the marriage work. However, finally Lynne and Jamie broke up because of his alcholism and abuse. She was on her own to raise Bryan, Britney and Jamie Lynn.

When Britney stars on the Mickey Mouse Club, she is very much in the spotlight. With the release of her album, Baby One More Time she becomes an overnight sensation. Britney's marriage to Jason Alexander is annulled and within three months she has married Kevin Federline. Two children follow in two years, which in itself is stressful. Then the couple breaks up and Kevin is awarded custody of the children. Britney then plummets into a world of substance abuse and mental lapses, not speaking to her mother for months.

During this time, Lynne Spears worries about Britney and the children and finds that her youngest daughter, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant at fifteen years old. Though Lynne tries to protect her family from the tabloids, papparozi and the media, she finds it an impossible task. Then she learns that Britney is being controlled by a man who is supposed to be her manager. He hides her dog from her, won't let her go out of the house and holds his power over her. He is a taker.

Some things I read in Lynne's book raised a red flag. Why would a mother allow a photographer to shoot photos of young Britney in her bedroom when he insisted there could be no supervision? Was Lynne so naive that she didn't realize what he was up to? Did Lynne really believe that Jamie Lynn was a virgin just because her daughter said she was?

Though I don't agree with many of the decisions that Lynne made for her family, her pain is evident throughout the book. She pours out her heart and soul in hopes that other mothers will learn from her experiences.

This book is a great read for all those who are interested in the path of a mother who has climbed mountains and trudged through valleys. It is a must for every mother who is thinking of entering her daughter in beauty pagents and helping her find the road to fame. From a small Lousiana family to a household name, Spears has traveled a road that not many of us can relate to until we've read her book.

If you would like to read Lynne Spears' story, you can purchase the book HERE. I have reviewed it for the publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Story Writing Tips for Children

When you're teaching children to write, one of the most important things for them to understand is that a story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning introduces the audience to the characters and tells a little about them. The story should then flow into the middle and the characters should be involved in a conflict. The middle should take up most of the story. Then, a solution brings the story to a close.

All of these things are what makes up a story. Children have great imaginations and can make up great stories about children their own age. They can use their experiences to make the story believeable.

If you find your child can't think of an idea for his/her story, give them a little help. You can give them a sentence to help them out. Example: The ghostly sounds were coming from the old house. Your child can use that sentence and allow their imagination to fly. That is how my grade four teacher taught us to write. However, while teaching my grandsons writing skills, I have used a different method. Give the child three words. Recently I did this for my eleven year old grandson. The words were slippery, forest and pond. He wrote a delightful story about a frog named Slippery who lived in a pond in the woods. The conflict was that a builder was going to destroy the pond in order to build condominiums. Though the story was a little juvenile for his age, he did a great job showing conflict and resolution.

If you use this latter method, try to choose words that will interest your child. For instance, if your child likes dogs, give him/her words such as puppy, mother and lost. You just may be surprised with what they come up with.

If you would like to read more about Home Schooling, please visit Tammy's blog.

Monday, March 16

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday March 16th..

Outside my window...

I am seeing sunshine, grass in the park, though it isn't green yet. I can hear a blue jay calling. Is it time for them to mate?

I am thinking...

I really need to buckle down and get some writing done today. I'm way behind but am having trouble concentrating. Can I blame it on Spring Fever?

I am thankful for...

All of God's creatures that make life so worth living, for grandsons who call to see what we can do while they're off school on March Break and for the love of family and friends both in the real world and online.

From the learning rooms...

I have just sent in assignment # 2 for my children's writing course. We will see what the tutor says when it is returned. Hopefully a good mark will be in order.

From the kitchen...

Pork loin, rice and asparagus is on the menu. I also need to do a little organizing again.

I am wearing...
Chocolate brown cotton jeans, a teal blue shirt and white socks.

I am creating...

Plans to take the boys on a couple of outings during the coming week. Hopefully they will work out and I will have photos to post.

I am going...

To take Dakota out for his walk soon. He is little yet, so we don't go too far, but he loves being outside. He is very social to people, but a little leery of other dogs. On Friday he made friends with a female mastiff. She is a gentle giant and they really like each other. She is much older and is very gentle with him.

I am reading...

I just finished Through the Storm by Lynne Spears. I will do a review of it later this week.

I am hoping...

To wallpaper and paint the kitchen and change the lighting sometime soon, as well as put down a new floor. I would like new cupboards, but that probably isn't going to happen this year. We will have to wait and see.

I am hearing...

Dakota playing with his ball. It is a softball and he enjoys rolling it across the laminate floor and then pouncing on it. There are times when he swings it in his mouth and tosses it. It's comical to watch him. He makes me laugh out loud.

Around the house...

Lots of things need doing. I've just thoroughly cleaned and organized my pantry with hubby's help. It's so nice to go in there and be able to find things without having to move other things around.

One of my favorite things...

Is spending time with the grandsons on March Break. Every year we try to do something fun.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

* Take Dakota to the dog park again.
* Go with Mom and the boys to see the swans before they leave our area for their flight north.
* I have the boys Thursday and Friday and would like to do something special.
* Enjoy the warmer temperatures that are predicted.
* Start work on organizing my computer room. It's a bit messy right now with manuscripts in boxes and a cluttered desk.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

If you would like to take part in the Simple Woman's Daybook, it can be found HERE