Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on Bird Weirdness, Read Aloud Recommendation,

    April 29, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    The strangest thing happened during a hail storm we had on Sunday night. My children had all gotten out of bed to watch the lightning — when you live somewhere where “real” weather is a rare occurrence, you get up for these things. The girls had opened the front door and, shining their flashlights out into the storm, they noticed a tiny chipping sparrow in the middle of the yard. She was standing there like a statue, and yet we could tell she was still breathing. My husband put on a thick jacket {to protect himself from the hail, which was between marble and golf ball size} and went out to check on her. He tapped her gently with his foot, and she did not move. He tapped her again, and this time she looked up at him, but that was her only movement. The girls asked if they could capture her, and so we scrambled around looking for a container. We found one and brought it out to him, but she must have recovered a bit at this time because she fluttered up into the tree.

    The whole thing was very strange — all we can think of is that she was hit by some hail and stunned for a while. Poor thing.

    :: 2 ::

    Our latest family read aloud is The Black Star of Kingston. I’ve had the book for a while, but we had started so many read alouds that I was afraid to start another one until we had finished something — we’re juggling more evening commitments than ever due to our oldest son’s schedule. So we’ve got one title for family reading {everyone all together, even my husband}, one for the children and I, and one for when we’re without the teen.

    I was so disappointed at how changed our reading aloud schedule had been this year — we just weren’t together as much as we have been in the past, especially in the evenings during prime reading time. So my solution has been to add more {seems counterintuitive, I know}, which works surprisingly well. This book, in my opinion, had to be for everyone, so we waited until we were ready. Everyone loves it so far!

    Highly recommended, of course.

    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2015:

    Don't Get Your Head Turned

    This was is only a year ago, but if you’re feeling like you need some encouragement, it’s a pep talk I wrote to myself. You might like it.

    :: 5 ::

    This week has been adventurous in terms of weather. We’ve had wind, rain, thunder, lightning, hail, and beautiful sunshine. It’s been fun — it’s more interesting weather than most of my children can remember. We took advantage of a beautiful sunny day on Wednesday and did school at the park so that some of the children could collect some tadpoles from the stream. Every year they try to raise frogs. One year, they were successful in that they successfully LOST FROGS IN MY HOUSE.

    :: 6 ::

    Speaking of science, I still think my best purchase ever is pocket microscopes for all. This opened up another door of curiosity that still hasn’t closed and they’ve had them for five months. A-Age-Eleven had a caterpillar she was keeping that happened to be infected with parasites — I’m guessing parasitic wasps, but we’ll find out for sure once they’ve become whatever it is they were born to be. Anyhow, before bed, some people read bedtime stories, but at our house we have to examine the larvae under the microscope because they might not look the same in the morning, you know. They came out of the caterpillar earlier today, and now they seem to be forming some sort of chrysalis.

    Anyhow, I highly recommend these little tools for elementary students {and up} because it’s handy that you can carry them with you wherever you go.

    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question:  I am in the midst of trying to figure out the best way to protect my family from Lyme disease. We are living in a rural area with LOTS of ticks, and therefore LOTS of Lyme disease as well. I much prefer the “all-natural path” in other areas of life, so I am wondering if you could share how you are protecting your family from ticks.
      • Answer: I can’t believe how many times I was asked some version of this question this past week! Would you believe my answer is I don’t really know? Because I really don’t. Where we live, there aren’t many ticks. Where we go hiking, I choose the paths I think are safe, and of course we wear a lot of clothes. When my husband mentions taking the children into the mountains, I try not to hyperventilate and suggest the beach instead. But other than that, I really don’t know the answer. So this is where we ask YOU to help answer. How about in the comments those of you who have thought about this share your ideas, especially if you’ve come across a mild means of protection that would work for chemically sensitive children.

    Get the (almost) weekly digest!

    Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

    Powered by ConvertKit


  • Reply Mama Rachael May 8, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Hey! I was talking with Hubby about the pocket microscope and he said I ought to ask you about the ruggedness of these microscopes. We have a will-be-5-in-a-week little boy who can be super hard on anything he gets his hands on. And at $11, I wouldn’t feel too bad if he broke it after 6 months… but wondering if these would last that long. This is the child who breaks nearly every little plastic water gun he gets to play with, had dinged up all his citiblocks (building blocks) and has broken at least 1 chair in the house so far. Any thoughts on this?

  • Reply Joy May 2, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Hi Brandy,
    Thank you for the consistent wonderful sharing! I have a question about your read aloud time. I have two teens now and have also experienced the difficulty of consistent evening read alouds. Can you share a bit more about how “adding more” has helped? Do you mean you simply have different books going specifically for the different combinations of family members home for that evening? So I would have a book that I read when it is just my youngest and I home but the older two are off, a separate book to read when just the oldest is gone, and even an additional book going for when the entire family is present? That does seem like it could work. Maybe I just answered my own question. 🙂 Am I understanding correctly?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Yes, that’s exactly what I mean — having different books for different combinations of people. What was happening was the little ones would keep saying, “Oh! We can’t read that book because E-Age-13 isn’t here!” and so we would end up just not reading. So — yes! What you said in your comment sounded very similar to what I’m doing, and what I think I’ll keep doing: figure out what combinations of people are home in the evenings and choose a title for each group so that we can always read when we have time to read instead of choosing to not read because someone is missing. One thing I didn’t mention is that with my three youngers, I chose a title that I read aloud years ago to the whole family. None of them really remembered it, but my husband and oldest did, so they don’t feel like they are missing out at all. 🙂

      • Reply Joy May 3, 2016 at 2:16 pm

        Thanks so much!

  • Reply SarahD April 30, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    We formulated our bug mist with ticks in mind since we live in tick central. It has a mixture of essential oils that repel ticks. We spray on our clothes and hair and exposed skin basically every time we go outside. Good to note that it only works if we actually use it. ? But the person who mentioned nightly tick checks is right on. If biting ticks are caught and removed within a few hours, the chances of contracting Lyme are much lower. Also I have learned to identify nymph stage ticks. I understand it’s not possible for them to be infected yet at that stage. They are the teeny tiny ones that have only 6 legs. If I remove one like that, I don’t worry about infection. I also mark all tick bites on the calendar so I remember to monitor for symptoms for a while and have records if we need to see a doc.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 2, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Sarah!! I didn’t know you had a bug mist in your shop. I’ll contact you… 🙂

  • Reply Mama Rachael April 30, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I know DEET doesn’t fit the ‘natural’ request, but really that is your best bet. Yes, there are issues with DEET, but I’ll take those over West Nile, Zika and Lime Disease. Shower off and use soap and it comes right off. Wear long pants that you tuck into your socks, and wear a long sleeve shirt that buttons snuggly around the wrists. If you can, wear a shirt that has a collar that you can button up to your neck. And when you get home, do a tick check. If you’ve dressed well, ticks won’t go far, but always check under arms, around the neck, in the hair, in the crotch area. You might consider asking your doctor to do the blood test for Lime Disease yearly or some such, just to be safe.

    These mosquito born parasites are a pain and are nasty. Lets be thankful the US doesn’t have malaria any more, nor have we ever had Dengue Fever. These beat out anything we are dealing with, I think (though that can be argued…)

  • Reply Carol April 30, 2016 at 2:43 am

    I had a birthday afternoon tea party for a friend today & guess what came up in the conversations – ticks! We were sitting outside & have bush all around so I think that triggered it! A friend had to go on a course of antibiotics after a tick bite & now they have some ‘wart-off’ they keep handy – freezes them. I don’t know that I’d be happy to use that on children. My dh had a tick which he didn’t discover until he started feeling sick after being outside in the garden & our cat had a paralysis tick & needed treatment.

    The prevailing viewpoint within the Australian medical community is that “there is no evidence of Lyme disease in Australia.”

  • Reply Celeste April 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

    “A-Age-Eleven had a caterpillar she was keeping that happened to be infected with parasites — I’m guessing parasitic wasps, but we’ll find out for sure once they’ve become whatever it is they were born to be.” << The fact that you are following this creature's infection to its conclusion rather than, um, tossing it out the back door (!) proves you are a CM household! 😉

  • Reply Herbwifemama April 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Rose Geranium EO is repellent to ticks. Other than that, check whenever you’ve been outside, wear a hat (white will show up the ticks best), tuck your pants into your socks, shower after you’ve been outside. If you think you’ve been bitten, it might be wise to start a round of abx asap- and I’m kind of anti- antibiotics. But I’m even more anti-lyme.

    Caveat: I have no personal experience with lyme, but the EO suggestion came from someone who had had it 9 times.

  • Reply Catie April 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

    “We’ve had wind, rain, thunder, lightning, hail, and beautiful sunshine.” In Oklahoma, we call that a Tuesday. 🙂

  • Reply Ivy Mae April 29, 2016 at 9:49 am

    We live in a rural area in Florida with tons of deer and thus tons of ticks. We can pick them up just being out at our playset in the yard, and of course my woods-exploring son gets them. What we do is to put the kids in long pants and boots (protection from snakes is important even when it’s 90 degrees + ) and then spray the boots and bottoms of pants with Deep Woods Off. Yes, it is not natural. But there is minimal contact with skin and keeping ticks away is important. So my advice is to spray clothes with effective spray. Most of the time, ticks will transfer onto your clothes from long grasses and this will prevent that.
    I will say that we do not panic and run to the doctor when someone gets bitten. I have had hundreds of tick bites in my life (which sounds gross, but really, I just like being outside) and my dad has probably had four times that. They are just a pain because they itch for two or three weeks. That’s the adventurous life for you!

  • Reply Kelly April 29, 2016 at 8:38 am

    When we first moved out here I had to check the kids for ticks every single time they came in from playing and we always found at least one tick on each kid! Getting poultry was the best thing we ever did. Nowadays we might find one tick per month during warm weather. So that’s my recommendation — if you’re rural enough to own poultry, get poultry. They all eat ticks, but guinea fowl are the ones that eat deer ticks, since they have such keen eyesight. The one drawback to guineas if you have neighbors who would be bothered by it, is that they’re noisy. If you’re like us though, that’s a positive trait because they’ll let you know anytime something strange is going on outside.

    Secondary to that is my homemade sunscreen recipe, which also keeps mosquitoes and gnats away. I have no idea whether it would be useful against ticks since I wasn’t making it back when they were a problem, but here’s the link, in case you’d like to try it.

  • Reply Danielle April 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

    I don’t use essential oils for everything, but I have found them useful for ticks. You can dilute them to use as a repellant or hold a soaked cotton ball over a tick to make it back out of the skin. I think it’s tea tree that’s recommended, although once I did the cotton ball trick with lavender (all I had on hand) and it worked.

  • Reply Amanda April 29, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Love the pocket microscope! I just added it to my cart. 🙂

    Regarding ticks–we live in the country and have developed a habit of nightly “tick checks” where we give the kids a thorough looking over–between toes, armpits, hairlines, etc. From the research that we have done, it is important that they be removed within 24ish hours. At that point, yes, we would probably start on antibiotics and have the tick checked for Lyme’s. Antibiotics are rarely are go-to, but in situations like this, we make concessions. Also, if we are hiking in the woods, we wear long pants and shoes…not always fun in the hot summer, but better to be safe. I’d love to hear other’s suggestions! 🙂

  • Reply Angela April 29, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Thank you for the pocket microscope suggestion. I purchased one through your link 🙂

    Also, how do you all juggle your many read-alouds? I think I read somewhere that you read to your kids during lunch (I do the same!).

  • Reply Leah April 29, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Insect repellent clothing may be an option! We all just ordered bandanas for outdoor activities and they work well. There are other items (shirts and pants) that I haven’t tried. I bought items under the brand name “insect shield”.

  • Leave a Reply