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    Seven Quick Takes on Hummingbird Nectar, New Facebook Options, Loving my Label Maker, and More!

    July 24, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    We gave A-Age-Ten a hummingbird feeder for Christmas last year. I think this {and the bird feeder we gave Q-Age-Eight} ended up being the best gifts we’ve ever given. There is a tree right outside their window, and we hung the feeders so they can see all the commotion from their desk. It’s been great.

    It’s way cheaper at Costco than on Amazon, FYI.

    But that is not my point. It took a while for A-Age-Ten’s hummingbird feeder to get much action. One would drop by an take a taste on occasion, but it would be once a week, if that. At that point in time, I was wondering if the feeder was a very bad idea for a gift. So I googled around, and I found some speculation that the powdered feeder mixes aren’t that great for hummingbirds, that they prefer a real sugar blend. We took that to an extreme and bought unbleached, organic, non-GMO sugar to see what would happen.

    What happened was remarkable. We went from very little attention, to having to refill the feeder multiple times per week — sometimes even more than once per day. We have three regulars that come daily and fight with each other over the feeder, even though there is room for four to drink at a time.

    Have you ever seen a  hummingbird fight? It’s amusing.

    Anyhow, my advice is that if you buy a hummingbird feeder, go organic. Our homemade nectar is four parts water and one part sugar.

    :: 2 ::

    Facebook Like ControlRecently, Facebook rolled out a new feature that will give you more control over your newsfeed. I added a screenshot at left so you can see what I mean. On any page you have liked {including the Afterthoughts page, hint hint 🙂 }, you can hover over the like button and see new options. In the image at right, the “Default” option is selected. This means that Facebook’s algorithm will decide whether or not I see new posts from this page. If I change that and select “See First,” new posts from the page will automatically appear in my newsfeed.

    For some pages, you might prefer the algorithm. But for pages that are really important to you — like if you don’t want to miss my updates about planning the year and how this necessitates a margarita 😉 or you found out that I do giveaways and special tips there sometimes — you can switch to the “See First” option so that you don’t miss out.

    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2014…


    Last year. I know, I know. I’m supposed to be dredging up really old posts, from 5-10 years ago. But I couldn’t resist because this dovetails with my post on poetic knowledge from earlier this week. Click here to read it.

    :: 5 ::


    Exhibit A

    Yesterday, we did our annual summer tradition with Friend R. and her children. We bravely took all seven of our children to our favorite beach without a man. If you think that doesn’t sound very brave, I consider the five hours of driving {total} and the three six-year-old boys we brought, and I maintain.

    A couple of the girls found a crab {see Exhibit A}. We didn’t know that kind was here — we’ve only ever seen sand crabs here before. So that was fun.

    Anyhow, it was a great time, and we are only slightly sunburned, so we’ve agreed to do it again next year.

    :: 6 ::

    Bookshelf LabelsI am totally infatuated with my new label maker. One of my goals for the new office bookcases was to label the shelves. I blamed this on the children, but really I think it will help me. I have issues, I guess. I decide what a shelf is for, but then I start to second-guess myself, and then other stuff ends up there because of that, and then all of a sudden it is just a junk shelf instead of a functioning part of our home organization. Anyhow, the labels will help me remember what I decided things are for, you know?

    This shelf in the photo, by the way, is pretty exciting. The shelves in my library {which I’m not labeling, because they are Nice Furniture} aren’t quite as wide as these new shelves for the office, and so my education books quickly outgrew my library space for them. Because of this, I was very tempted to leave education books lying all over the house — because they couldn’t all be put away at once, no matter what. Now all of my education books have a space to live, and they are all together in the office. It’s dreamy.

    :: 7 ::

    Study in ContrastsI don’t have any questions to answer this week, which is just as well because my mind is mush. Thanks for not making me think too hard.

    Since I don’t have questions, I thought I’d present a little study in contrasts: my two sons. They are not only complete opposites on the Myers-Briggs Test {ISTJ and ENFP}, but they are also opposites in birth order {oldest and youngest}. And their desks are an illustration of how different they are. They share a room, and it is like there is an imaginary line down the middle. On one side, Order. On the other, Chaos.

    When the messy side doesn’t make me cry, the whole thing makes me laugh.

    I really am trying to help the little guy, but sometimes it feels impossible.

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  • Reply Amber Vanderpol July 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve been traveling and I’m so behind now!

    I’ve thought about getting a hummingbird feeder but the idea of the colored stuff grossed me out. My MIL (next door) uses regular sugar on hers and gets a little bit of traffic now and then… I wonder if she’d get more with organic. She has so few visitors to it that it didn’t really seem worthwhile to get one at our house.

    Your desk pics remind me a lot of my house, only right now my 13 yo’s desk is heaped (and perennially and just about hopelessly so), my 9 yo is heaped, but largely with in progress 3-D projects and supplies that he’s too lazy to keep getting out and putting away upstairs in between work sessions, and my 6 yo has a very tidy desk. (As is mine, I’d just like to add *grin*) I think my 9 yo would be a lot tidier if I could either convince him that it isn’t that big of a deal to go *all the way* upstairs to put things away or figure out how to get more storage for him downstairs that would still be protected from the littles. (Although, come to think of it… it really is a matter of training the littles, isn’t it. They know not to bug the stuff on his desk which is in their reach…) My kids’ space is in such need for reconsideration and renovation, but I haven’t come up with anything brilliant yet. So far each iteration has gotten better, but they keep coming up with ways around or finding new needs that tax my brilliance. 🙂 Isn’t that the story of motherhood though?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

      I admire anyone with a tidy desk. I wish I had a tidy desk. Instead, it is more like ocean waves — sometimes more, sometimes less, but always something because if I put something away before I’m completely done, I completely FORGET about it! It is horrible. I wish I wasn’t like this, but I don’t know how to fix the memory component. I will say, however, that there is no dirty laundry under, on top of, or around my desk. 😉

      As far as the hummingbirds go, I would totally try the organic sugar. I really thought we just didn’t have many of them, and I cannot believe the traffic change. It has been remarkable! I would love to know how/if it works at your elevation, though. You’re higher up, right, Amber? I think I’m remembering correctly…

      • Reply Amber Vanderpol July 30, 2015 at 9:17 am

        Yes, we’re at about 3000 ft – I know there around because I see them visiting my salvia down in the garden, but it would be fun to have them up closer to the house so we could watch them more. I’d like to plant salvia closer to the house, but then there’s the deer… who during this drought will eat absolutely anything and everything!

        I forget about things I put away too, but when I put away something I want to work on still, I add it to Todoist (even noting where I stashed it – because it is so annoying to have it come up on my todo list and not be able to find it!!) and that helps me keep track of what I need to do without needing to have everything piled everywhere. Especially since piles make me crabby and anxious and keep me from working on good stuff because all I want to do is take care of said piles!

        BTW, your notification for replies seems to have disappeared again…

  • Reply Virginia Lee July 24, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    The bottom pic is great! I think it’s wonderful they are so different. If they can learn to live in peace with each other now, think of the blessings that will bring later on. Roommates, spouses, children, not to mention the virtues they’re developing as they learn to coexist together. I’m sure you’ve already thought of all of that. But I think so many do not get this learning experience and then are in shock when they have to later on in life. Much easier to learn it as a child than as an adult.

    I also think 6 is young and he might outgrow some of this as he matures. I think most 6 year olds are busy in their own minds. So much to soak in and think about and process and create. Not that they cannot learn to be more outwardly focused on others. But kids grow up fast. I like busy imaginations!

  • Reply Linda July 24, 2015 at 11:33 am

    I have a hummingbird feeder and it gives me untold pleasure. I love those little birds. And honestly I often laugh out loud watching the various battles that occur in my backyard.

    I’ve found that it often takes awhile (sometimes even late June) before hummingbirds are visiting on a regular basis. But this year I had visitors in late May and they stayed! Here in central Illinois they are gone by early to mid September. I’m always sad to see them go. Do you see hummingbirds year round in your neck of the woods?

    That’s interesting that the organic sugar seemed to make the difference for your feeder. I just might give that a try.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Our hummingbirds are year-round here! I guess our winters must be warm enough for them to stick around.

      And their battles are so funny, aren’t they?

      I remember the first time a hummingbird discovered our feeder after we put it out after Christmas. The little noise it made! It was obviously a sound of excitement, but we’d never heard anything like it before! And we haven’t heard it since, either — I guess our feeder is old hat now. 🙂

      • Reply Linda July 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm

        I only hear hummingbirds “squeak” when they’re gearing up for a fight and during a fight. A few days ago I was watching a hummer at the feeder and he was standing there squeaking. My initial thought was … that’s weird. They only seem to squeak when fighting and there’s not another bird nearby… But in a few seconds another one was flying at him protesting and they instantly starting slamming into each other, squeaking and squawking. Such little birds but they can be very aggressive!

        Great entertainment!

  • Reply Catie July 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I lost my label maker! *SOB* I miss it so! I keep holding out on buying a new one b/c they’re not cheap, but I’m thinking I might have to have a moment of silence for it and move on.

    Oh man! That pic of your boys’ room is hilarious! My girls are the same way but they’re only 2 years apart so keeping them from fighting about their stuff (they share a room also) can be a challenge for sure!

    That article about clothing was interesting! I have one child who has some highly sensitive tendencies and she has to have REALLY TIGHT clothing. It took me way too long to figure out it wasn’t an obedience thing. 🙁 Now we what clothes to buy her so most of the time it’s fine.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 11:47 am

      That is interesting about your sensitive daughter! I have read a bit about children that need a firm touch versus a soft touch — the soft touch bothers them a lot. But I hadn’t considered how that might change their clothing preferences!

  • Reply Kansas Mom July 24, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Oh how I would love a library and an office! I have books everywhere and though there is an underlying order, I would much prefer a beautiful space all organized and neat.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 11:11 am

      I will tell you a secret: my “library” is actually a very wide hallway. It is unnaturally, unusually wide. Personally, I think the builder didn’t know what to do with a few extra feet of space, and so he just left it in a hallway. At first, I thought it a reason NOT to buy this house, but when I realized I could line it with shelves and call it my library, I was sold. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley July 24, 2015 at 9:58 am

    What a great 7 quick takes! My oldest son is an ESFJ, and my oldest daughter is an IN?P (she may be on the line for T/F). The differences in their minds is so awesome.

  • Reply Hollie July 24, 2015 at 7:47 am

    When we used to have our two oldest girls share a room (ages 8 and 12) it looked similar to what you have shared here. Our 12 year old was organized and the 8 year old let chaos reign. The drastic differences caused a lot of fighting and made sharing a room really difficult. Any tips for keeping the peace in situations like that?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Gosh, I really don’t know! I think it helps that there is a six-year age difference. My oldest had a very long time with a neat room before he had to deal with this, and I really think this helped. By the time it became an issue — only in the past year or two, really — I was able to talk with him about it. So my husband and I are committed to helping keep it from getting totally out of control — O-Age-Six has to tidy up multiple times per day. Much of what he has out is NOT important for his ongoing projects — it’s just dirty laundry and such. So while he can keep out his project stuff, he has to try to put away the other things.

      But anyhow, I pretty much told my oldest that I think that he might have grown up to have a hard time with fatherhood — because he wants everything always neat and tidy and parenthood just isn’t that way, and kids need to make a mess sometime. So I set it up to him as a bit of a challenge — if he could learn to live in peace with his little brother, I think he could learn to live in peace with anyone. He gets annoyed, of course, but he has really risen to the occasion in the past year.

  • Reply Sara McD July 24, 2015 at 5:28 am

    My oldest (10) reminds me of an absent-minded professor. His room’s a mess because his mind is always somewhere else. He goes upstairs to get something and comes down without it because he thought of something more interesting. He is easily bored but he is also very creative in entertaining himself. He’s always got some interesting experiment going on, usually without my permission, and usually dragging his brothers along for the ride. Recently he has built a toad house, a terrarium, and a lightning bug lantern. The book Pets in a Jar is the bane of my existence.

    A couple of weeks ago he led his brothers in picking LOADS of mint from along the creek bed and made it into rubberbanded bundles, strung ropes across their rooms, and hung the bundles to dry. When they were dry, my eight-year-old whose fine motor skills are better than the others, sewed a very neat sachet pillow and stuffed it with some of the crumbled leaves.

    I’m telling this because, that bedroom, those messes, the unexpected finds, really bug me – but there’s a nice trade-off.

    Also, my SIL says that she never thought my husband would marry because he was the same way. She always pictured him happily ensconced in a room surrounded by books and music, unaware of time or the world. He IS still kind of like that but we make a good team.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 9:00 am

      That is a good reminder, Sarah! I am a little like that myself, but this child takes it to a whole new level — and because I have the same tendency, I often feel like I have no idea how to help him! We’re working on it. 🙂

      But you’re right — he makes EVERYTHING more interesting.

      • Reply Sara McD July 24, 2015 at 9:18 am

        I feel like my “messer” needs to be taught explicitly and repeatedly what others know intuitively. I just caught him trying to bring crickets in the house so he can listen to them while he sleeps at night, but that kind of stuff is minor (and kind of fun!) compared to all the accidental messes he makes because he’s busy with other things.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 9:40 am

          Ha! That is one that hasn’t happened here {yet}.

          I did have a pile of rocks at my place at the dining table this morning. Apparently, he brought half of his ocean findings home just for ME. 😉

  • Reply Erin July 24, 2015 at 1:21 am

    Oh I LOVE my label maker, I’ve labelled a lot. All the bookshelves (of which there are many;) the linen cupboard, all boxes in toyroom, in learning room. Next project is the kitchen.

    My latest little gadget that my little categorising heart loves is my new barcode scanner with which I am uploading books and DVDs into a database (Readerwar) over 4000 books thus far, just love that ‘beep’ sound.

    Enjoy your label maker:)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 24, 2015 at 9:05 am

      A barcode scanner?? That sounds wonderful! ♥

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