Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge Day Two: Quail Eggs

During my children’s school years, I subscribed them to a variety of magazines and book clubs. My daughter’s favourite was The Magic School Bus club.

Such excitment when every few weeks her package arrived containing all sorts of goodies: a glossy book filled with the latest adventures of Ms Frizzle and her students, a colouring activity or two, and of course a science experiment usually requiring bicarbonte of soda and red food colouring.

I also loved exploring the educational section of toy shops, always on the look out for  fun-filled family activities, although not much beats Lego as far I’m concerned.  But that’s another post.

We had a great deal of fun, but we also had our fair share of disasters.

Take the Butterfly Garden for instance.  What a wonderful idea I thought, as I gift-wrapped it for my six year old Eldest Son.   We can watch beautiful butterflies burst forth from their cocoons and fly happily off into the great outdoors.

Following all the instructions, things started off well, but when it came time for them to burst forth, it was not a pretty sight.  Several of the Painted Lady Butterflies looked malformed, leaving us to peer into the garden and for me to answer questions like “Why is that butterfly stuck in its cocoon Mummy?”   And “Why is that one missing one wing?”

Thankfully, enough butterflies hatched normally to make it an overall happy experience.

Not to be undaunted, I then bought the kids an Ant Farm.  We couldn’t wait to watch the ants tunnel their ‘city’ in the sand, while we observed through the perspex walls of their ant home.  Again, we followed the instructions, making sure to give the ants sugar-water, only to find them a few days later shrivelled to a crisp.  So much for the Ant Farm.

But the biggest disaster by far involved quail eggs.  Intrigued by an advertisement in the back of Boy’s Life magazine urging Boy Scouts everywhere to ‘hatch baby quails in the comfort of your own home’, I, as usual, relented.  We had free-range chickens at the time, so I thought why the heck not?

We sent off for the kit which included an incubator of sorts, an extremely precise set of instructions and the coupon with which to send off for said quail eggs. The eggs arrived in a box through the post,  yet the first instruction very strictly advised:

‘KEEP THE QUAIL EGGS STILL AT ALL TIMES UNLESS TURNING AS DIRECTED.’

Hmmmm….

We monitored the temperature, turned the eggs as directed, and waited.  When hatching day came and went, and the next and the next after that, I took a closer look by cracking open one of the eggs, only to confirm what I already suspected: not only was it empty of any sign of a baby quail, but the contents were rotten.

Time to bring out the Lego.

But, as we all know, life is full of surprises.  Twenty-something years later and a few months ago, my daughter added to her menagerie a pair of Chinese Button Quails.

Notoriously bad at breeding, she didn’t expect them to do so, but thanks to her excellent farming skills, not only did they breed but ‘Cookie’ (Mummy) brooded for the given 16 days and look what happened:

These are the first two, held in my daughter’s hand one hour after they hatched.  Aren’t they adorable? There are six altogether:

Newly hatched Chinese Button Quails, June 2015 (c) Sherri Matthews

Newly hatched Chinese Button Quails, June 2015
(c) Sherri Matthews

Daddy – ‘Mooncake’ – had to be separated at first, but now they are all back together in their perfect quail home, one big happy family.  At night, the parents settle down and the babies sleeps around and on them.

Quite what we’ll do with them when grown I have no idea, but for now we’ll enjoy their feathery-humbug-uber-cuteness.

Quails at last.  Who would have thought?

*******

Many thanks again to wonderful Irene and Norah for inviting me to join in with the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge, the simple rules of which are:

Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.’

(I can’t manage the consecutive bit,  but they will continue next week).

Just to mention too, and keeping with the theme of this post,  for parents with school-age children looking for a resource guide to learning with lots of fun during the school holidays, I highly recommend Norah’s excellent post here.

Finally, I nominate lovely blogging pal Jenny over at  Characters From The Kitchen  for the challenge.  I can’t wait to read her stories.  Coincidentally, when linking to her blog, I noticed that today’s post is about, of all things, the amazing merits of Lego.  Seems we are once again on the same wavelength. Thanks Jenny for taking part!

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Birds of a Feather, Family Life, Photo/Story Challenges and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge Day Two: Quail Eggs

  1. Sue says:

    Love this story! And those über cute Quail babes…..

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  2. reocochran says:

    I really liked your reminders of good, old-fashioned fun and reminded my memory bank of the Magic School Bus magazine, Sherri.
    Your success with most of the butterflies coming out of cocoon “safe and sound” was a positive experience. Sorry to hear of first quail disaster. Very excited to see daughters turned out so sweet and cute. 🙂
    I wrote about a month ago about Boys Life, isn’t it funny how this happens? My post was called, “Some Things Stay the Same.”

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    • Sherri says:

      Hi Robin! So glad you enjoyed this ‘old-fashioned’ trip down memory lane…another time and place isn’t it? Thank you for your, as always, lovely comment. And what a coincidence about Boys Life! Would you mind sending me the link to your post, would love to read it … 🙂

      Like

  3. Oh Sherri, what misadventures y’all have had! 20 years? Persistence pays off! The quail chicks are super adorable. (Is chicks the right word? Quailets? Quailings?)

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  4. Redemption after all these year! How wonderful that you were able to enjoy these absolutely adorable baby quails. I think I remember seeing this picture (on Facebook maybe) and now I have a happy story to put with it. You will have to let us know what you decide to do once they grow up!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yay!!! Haha 😀 Thanks Heather…and yes, you did see the pic on FB, infact, I have this same photo as my cover photo! Their hatching gave me the story for this post…love it when that happens! And I will definitely keep you posted 🙂

      Like

  5. Oh, I love the Chinese Button Quails, Sherri. I’ll come back to see this picture again and again, as it’s such a precious scene.
    We had good luck with an ant farm, but our misadventure came with seahorses. They arrived from Florida in little vials; we followed all directions, and soon we had a big glass bowl filled with adorable, tiny seahorses flitting around…for one day. The next morning all were floating on the top. The best laid plans of good things for kids…

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…they are so cute aren’t they? Growing sooo fast though…already got their wing feathers! Oh dear…your experience with the seahorses sounds way too familiar. How cute though…even if for one day! We do try though as parents…and we as well as the kids learn through the trying! Thanks for sharing your pet misadventure with me Marylin, glad to know we weren’t the only ones, far from it I’m sure 🙂

      Like

  6. Oh they are so cute! I admire your tenacity with the the butterflies, ants and quails. Something must have ribbed off onto your daughter as those baby quails are beautiful! 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Edwina! We certainly gave it our best shot! As you know, my daughter is an Aspie and she has an amazing way with animals of all kinds. I’m not so sure I would have had the patience, so all the credit goes to her and how it paid off 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is good that your daughter has a way with animals, my daughter, unfortunately has never really liked them much, Luckily she is getting better, and gets on well with our dog. (One of the reasons we wanted a dog as we thought it would be good for her) 🙂

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      • Sherri says:

        My daughter would love a dog. She grew up with our Labs but since we moved back to the UK in 2003, we haven’t had another one. We are working on it. I feel a dog would be so good for her, get her out a bit more and give her confidence to walk and get out in the fresh air and more exercise. I’m so glad that your daughter gets on well with hers 🙂

        Like

  7. Heyjude says:

    Lovely, warm, funny and tragic stories Sherri, I have missed your wonderful posts! And such cuties! I stayed in a B&B in Dorset a couple of times where they served quail eggs for breakfast – very small, but almost entirely yolk – super delicious!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      And great to see you here again Jude! I’m so glad you enjoy reading along…thank you for your lovely comment 🙂 And yes, I’ve had quail eggs on occasion and they are very tasty indeed! We might be in for a treat if the egg laying continues 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jennypellett says:

    Isn’t that spooky? I’m sure this has happened before Sherri!
    I love your tiny chicks, they are soooo cute. How amazing to have them hatch like that. Watch out for your cat though, this might be too much of a temptation.
    Now you’ve really thrown down the gauntlet – I shall have to get my thinking cap on. As long as the posts don’t have to be on consecutive days I should be ok … but I can’t promise. Oh goodness, I’m getting stressed already😆

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      It has Jenny…and you know what they say about great minds and all that 😉 Don’t worry about the cats, the quails are super safe in their home in Claire’s room and can’t get to them. Eddie shows no interest, but Maisy is keen so we keep a very close eye. Honestly, this place is like a zoo!!! Don’t worry either about doing the stories consecutively, I’m not because I can’t…nothing like a bit of rule breaking. I won’t get to my next one until tomorrow. And no stress…no obligation, anytime that suits you, or not at all. Totally up to you my friend…but if you do, I know you’ll rise to the occasion beautifully 🙂

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  9. I love your story. You were a very brave mom. The nearest I got to critters that hatched, was when there was a silk worm craze at my daughter’s school. I’m not very into moths and the like, so when she went away to school camp, I put the shoe box in the spare bedroom and firmly shut the door, just in case they escaped. Thankfully they survived, but they probably wondered why their supply of mulberry leaves had dried up for a week. 😕

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh Sylvia, if I was brave, then so were you! I’m not into moths either and think I would have done the same, in terror that they might escape and fly all around the house! Glad they survived for your daughter’s sake. Oh the things we do as parents, haha 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. TanGental says:

    I’m with everyone on the glory of the baby quails; if I lived closer I’d give them a home; maybe I should send the vet round next term – she’s living near Weston which can’t be a million miles form you. If you were needing a home that is.

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh thanks Geoff…wish I could give some to you! That’s good to know about the Vet though just in case. I’ll let you know. At the weekend, we spoke to the shop where Daughter purchased the quails and told them the news. They were staggered, saying that usually the only way to breed quails is to incubate the eggs as the mothers rarely, if ever, brood. They said they would buy back the babies once grown (for a small fee) but at the moment we’re not sure what we’ll do. Lovely to enjoy their ‘glory’ meanwhile 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. restlessjo says:

    I saw the little fellas on Facebook, Sherri, but had no idea of the back story. I’m quite happy to’ve had kids who didn’t get more adventurous than kittens. I wouldn’t have the first idea what to do with these, but they are totally adorable! 🙂 Happy weekend to you all…

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jo, a pleasure to share the back story…these little cuties gave me a blog post, love it when that happens 😉 Thankfully, my daughter does everything. I long ago stopped taking on responsibility for all these endless pets. She does all the research, learns all about what to do and does it. All I have to do is run her out to the pet store for the things she doesn’t get online! I suggested she starts a quail blog about it, especially as the hatching has been so successful, sharing all her newly-gained quail breeding knowledge 🙂 A lovely weekend thanks Jo, hope for you too. But disappointed with Wimbledon…good final but would have loved a five-setter. Nobody I rooted for won their games 😦 And I can only hope that Rafa returns, seems he’s being written off already…say it ain’t so!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I came straight to you after reading Jenny’s post – and woo-hoo! At first I thought it must be national ‘Lego Day’ in the UK, but no – it is just you two being extraordinarily connected. Isn’t that lovely!! I reckon all those ‘failures’ as children actually taught your kids how to be successful grown-ups. The little chicks are delightful – so delicate I should be quite afraid of holding them!

    I did chuckle at the original instructions on the quail eggs – and they thought it would be fine to post them! Bring back common sense I say!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…yes, I can see why you would be thinking that Pauline! National ‘Lego Day’ sounds like a great idea to me and I know I can speak for Jenny in agreement… 😀 It is fun when that happens…and it’s happened a few times with us! Yes, I agree, definitely a lot of life lessons learned. Oh the babies are so cute, they are lovely to hold although very lively and stronger than they look. I was afraid at first too, but they are tough little critters! I hope to do a follow up post a bit later on about their progress. And yes, crazy isn’t it? No wonder those eggs didn’t thrive, ha! Thanks Pauline, lovely to hear from you as always.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Norah says:

    This is a gorgeous post, Sherri, with lots of lovely comments from your lovely friends.
    It’s not a surprise that I love hearing about your activities with your children. These science stories with bringing up “pets” are delightful. They remind me of a few “adventures” we had with Billabong Bugs, Sea Monkeys and Hermit Crabs; not to mention gold fish and Siamese Fighting fish! I don’t think either of us would have been ‘go to’ people for advice about looking after little critters, though I became quite the “expert” at butterflies eventually. 🙂 And your little Chinese Button Quails are absolutely adorable. I look forward to hearing more about them in future posts.
    I love Ms Frizzle and her Magic School Bus. I always wanted to be a fun teacher like Ms Frizzle. We are both redheads, and once I had curly hair (permed) like hers, but she is far more adventurous and exciting than I ever was. The magazine packages sound like a lot of fun. I’m sure a lot of children were turned onto science by the Magic School Bus.
    Thank you for so kindly linking to my post about learning activities for the holidays, both here and on FaceBook. I very much appreciate it.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Norah! So glad you enjoyed the read! I thought of you especially with the stories of our science experiments and learning at home activities 🙂 We did the fish thing too, for years, going from koi carp, to goldfish and onto to varies sizes of saltwater aquariums. We live and learn don’t we? 😉 Yes, I remember reading about your butterflies from a while ago and our chat about it. You did much better than me! I will do an update post about the quails…they are growing fast, but they are still adorable with little stripey heads!
      Haha…love that about Ms Frizzle! I can see you just like her, filled with the same enthusiasm and enjoyment of teaching, Are you absolutely sure you didn’t drive a Magic School Bus Norah, once upon a time? There are a lot of similarities here…I think you should spill the beans, LOL 😀 And you are very welcome, my pleasure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Thanks Sherri. I only had a Magic School Bus in my dreams! I guess my Early Learning Caravan could be a type of Magic Learning Bus. 🙂
        I do look forward to hearing more about the quails. They are soooo cute!

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Haha, yes Norah, I instantly think of the Magic School Bus when I think of your Early Learning Caravan 🙂 See, I knew something was going on 😀 😀 The quails are growing fast…must take more pics urgently for a follow up post 😀

        Like

  14. Rachel M says:

    Those chicks are so cute! We got some leaf insect eggs just after Christmas and three of them hatched and then died within a few weeks. I think it must have been too cold for them but I’m not sure what we did. Elizabeth is desperate for a pet so I’m thinking of giving it another try.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Rachel! They are adorable, all the credit goes to my daughter, I wouldn’t have the first clue! Yes, maybe try again with the leaf insect eggs for Elizabeth, the warmer temps will help a lot I would have thought. Always worth a try…look forward to a post about it 🙂

      Like

  15. Tom Merriman says:

    Aw, cute! Coincidentally, Sherri (once again!) my latest post features some baby birds, although slightly older and bigger than your little bundles of feathers! I’ve heard of ant farms, but never butterfly gardens, but if I had either I’d probably end with terrible results! And yes, Lego. Definitely a winner!
    Hope you have a good weekend, Sherri!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yet another coincidence Tom! This is getting spooky! Lego is the best isn’t it? Thanks, we had a great weekend, had all my chicks home back in the nest…and I don’t just mean the quails 😀 Hope you did too 🙂

      Like

  16. I loved this!!! What beautiful baby quails!!! I’m happy your daughter was successful with them. I bought lots of books for my children from the scholastic magazines they brought home from school. They read voraciously. Then we would let my daughter take a wagon load of those read to school and donate to the library for other children who could not afford to buy the books. It’s what this family does. Books are always our gift of choice. I don’t think we tried the kits though, I could be wrong. The memory is shot. Has been for many years. 🙂 Looking forward to more stories.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, same here Marlene, we loved those Scholastic Book Fairs, so many excellent books. How lovely of your family to donate to the library. It is wonderful to enable as many children as possible to read, read and read some more. Books make the best gifts…and Lego 🙂 Haha…yes, I know what you mean. The kids say something about their childhood and I draw a blank sometimes…I blame it on endless distractions…and hormones 😉 🙂 Thank you as always for reading these stories and so glad you enjoy them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. lbeth1950 says:

    This is a great post. Unfortunately, some of those things involving live creatures include a complimantary lesson about dealing with death.

    Like

  18. What sweet babies Sherri, despite the disasters along the way 🙂

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  19. Love this story and am glad that your family finally got success at quail breeding, albeit twenty years later.

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  20. I can definitely relate to some of your animal misadventures, Sherri. I’m glad the new babies arrives unscathed. 🙂

    Like

  21. jenniferkmarsh says:

    Ohh, what adorable quails!! ^^ I’m in the process of my chicken sitting on eggs, so next week some time they should hatch. Have a clutch most years – it’s such a joyous thing, I love it. I very much consider it a blessing, to watch them grow. Next year I’m going to try my hand at ducklings!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jenny Jen Jen, that’s wonderful news about your chickens! I hope you post photos! And yes, you must go for ducklings too. We raised chickens from day old chicks once, but brought from a farm shop, not hatched at home. Still, it was the closest we got 🙂 It truly is a magical thing isn’t it? Watching these darling quails hatching and growing has been such a delight and a blessing. I’m so glad to share them here and also to know you have your very own hatching to come 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Sherri we managed to keep our ant farm running for a good while but I ended up doing all the work and in the end I think they needed to be set free. Those quails are so beautiful I have never seen little baby quails before. My kids would adore them too.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I’m glad to hear that about your ant farm Kath, you did better than us! But I know what you mean about doing all the work, I did that for years too. Thankfully, my daughter takes full responsibility for her pets now she is an adult (no way would I have the time or commitment) so I can relax knowing she is doing all the work now! These baby quails have been a totally unexpected event and such a blessing and delight. I just love holding them too. Hopefully will do a follow-up post soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I don’t think those magazines made it out to Australia or I just missed them (could’ve been after my childhood) but the ant farm certainly made it out here. I loved the story of your failures with these kits. Sad as I imagine your kids were full of excitement anticipating wonderful outcomes. Of those types of pursuits all we had were silk worms and I think they were fairly trouble free.
    Those little quails look delightful. It could be your daughter’s new business venture supplying pet shops. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Well, we live and learn don’t we? I don’t know who was most disappointed, me or the kids. Too high expectations for sure! But at least some of the butterflies grew normally and beautifully 🙂 Silk worms sound fascinating, that’s something we never did! And yes, we told the pet shop where daughter got the pair of quails and they were amazed to hear of six babies hatching. Apparantely, this is unheard of without an incubator. They offered to buy them back for a small fee, but daughter will do her research. Perhaps a new business could be in store for her…I’ll keep you posted, thanks Irene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Ste J says:

    I like to think this a metaphor for life, quails being dreams and eggs being evil and then stuff happening when you least expect it and also hands. I think you have summed life up nicely. I still lament not purchasing the oft. advertised x-ray specs that could see through clothes, so popular in boy’s comics back in the day.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…oh Ste, I remember those x-ray specs!! I actually believed they really worked! Probably just as well you didn’t get them… 😉
      And thank you, yes, I love your analogy about life and how creatively your mind works. You’ve really got me thinking now…I remember that day when I discovered the rotten quail eggs. So many broken dreams…but then, just when you don’t expect it, boom. Leaves no room for disappointment, that. New life, new beginnings…victory over failure…

      Like

      • Ste J says:

        I’m all nostalgic for kids comics now, I need to root through some second hand shop STAT methinks. My analogy was perhaps not as refined as it could have been but 4am starts at work and eight hour shifts are not conducive to smooth thoughts.

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        I think you do too, once you’ve had a lie in…that’s early!

        Like

  25. I loved the reminiscing. It brought back many memories of when my girls were little and all the different animals we nurtured successfully and others that failed miserably no matter how hard we tried. There were a lot of tears and laughter and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

    Like

  26. cardamone5 says:

    OMG: your post made laugh so hard, I am crying. Ants fried to a crisp, rotten quail eggs, oh, Sherri, I know at the time, it must have been horrible, but for an outsider, who has a sick sense of humor, hysterical. And those baby quails: how cute. What a great mommy you are.

    Love,
    E

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I’m glad you got the humour Elizabeth, believe me, I have a pretty sick sense of humour too and yes, we had our disappointments to say the least, but we still laugh about the rotten quail eggs and cripsy ants…yikes 😮 😀 My daughter is thrilled with her quail babies…getting bigger by the day! Lovely to hear from you and love back to you… 😉

      Like

  27. Marie Keates says:

    You really can’t beat Leggo. Luckily my boys were not too interested in hatching things or ant farms. They were very fond of taking things apart to see how they worked though, usually this proved terminal to whatever they’d dismantled. My eldest is now a mechanic so I guess he can actually put thing back together these days. The youngest liked to make concoctions of leaves, flowers mud and things he found and was very good at planting things that would grow. We had four rosemary bushes at one point because he kept breaking bits off and planting them and they all rooted.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Gah! What a horrible story about the quail eggs! That must have been awful. 😦

    Oh, yes, both my kids loved The Magic School Bus. I didn’t know they had a club. How cool! I was just looking into butterfly gardens after reading Norah’s latest post. I will refrain from any hatching eggs kits. But, oh! How stinkin’ cute are those baby quails?! ❤

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I know, it was sad. I made sure the kids were at school when I did it so at least they didn’t have to experience the rotten eggs. These adorable babies made up for it, albeit a long time after 😉
      Ahh, that’s great your boys love The Magic School Bus too, I can’t remember where I signed up to the club, maybe through a Scholastic Book Fair. I read Norah’s butterfly post recently too, lovely wasn’t it? I hope our misadventures don’t put you off, it was worth it to see those butterflies who did form appear out of their cocoons. Your boys will love it…and thanks again for reading Sarah, I always love hearing from you, you bring big smiles to my day 🙂 ❤

      Like

  29. What adorable Chinese Button Quails! It’s never too late for an education in nature and innate devotional parenting

    Like

    • oops (I pressed enter). The Innate devotional parenting of wildlife. I know when the peregrine falcons in our town are taking care of their young, a web cam shows how devoted and incredible the parents are! What a great experience for your daughter. 🙂

      My son used to love Ranger Rick magazines and Highlights. I was never as adventurous as you though! 🙂

      Like

      • Sherri says:

        Oh Maria, I remember your peregrine falcons and how you were watching them through your web cam! It is really incredible to witness ‘innate devotional parenting’ isn’t it? It’s been great for my daughter, but I have to say, there is an update. The things of nature aren’t always pretty are they? I’ll do a post about it after I’ve finished the photo/story challenge, but I will just say everything is now fine, phew 🙂
        I remember Ranger Rick and Highlights! Oh those were the days. Haha…I don’t think I’m adventurous, rather I have a big sign across my head that says ‘schmuck’ 😀

        Like

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