When Kelli was three, we lived in a much-loved home affectionately called “the gray house.” We nicknamed it “the gray house” because the house was in fact, gray. We had moved across the parking lot from the not-so-much-loved green house.

The green house had one bedroom and a fire-trap attic which we converted into a second bedroom. It also had a living room, a rather small, dark kitchen (until we painted it orange and yellow) and an unheated bathroom which guaranteed no one spent too much time showering or getting ready during the winter.

In contrast, the two-story, three-bedroom gray house which came complete with fireplace and a yard with a swing set, seemed like a mansion. Jeff’s very blue room was at the top of the stairs. Kelli’s very shocking pink room (with the lime green trim) was in the front corner.  (Before you make comments about the colors – they were very chic at that time.)

Kelli’s window looked out onto the branches of a pine tree, so close, you could touch them when we opened the windows. And it was right there, on that close-to-the-window branch that a mourning dove decided to build her nest that spring. Kelli was excited about this as only a three-year-old can be about a bird so close to her bed. During nap time she would lie on her blanket and stare at the mourning dove and the mourning dove would warily stare back at her.

Days went by and we were excitedly waiting to see the baby birds hatch and then grow big enough to take off into the cruel world full of cats and other dangers.  This was a front-row seat to a homeschooler’s dream visual.

Then one sad afternoon, (Kelli was once again lying in her bed, watching the bird instead of napping) a hawk somehow spotted the mourning dove and her about-to-hatch babies. With one swoop, he was down – attacking. The mourning dove screeched her lamentations, but the mother and her eggs had been destroyed.

Kelli was in despair. We comforted, but felt sad ourselves. We had watched that caring mother bird for days and enjoyed our daughter’s exuberance in watching “her bird.”

And now, we’re watching another mourning dove. She is nesting in a very secluded part of the gutter – fortunately not a part that is needed to actually drain rain. Actually she has chosen wisely. Could a hawk spot her? Yes, but I think he would have a problem getting at her. Unfortunately, squirrels are also predators and as we all know – there is a squirrel who likes living on the roof. In fact, one was just partially hanging upside down from another part of the gutter, looking at me through the window. (Which would’ve been funny if it hadn’t been that annoying squirrel again.) I think the squirrel has already demolished the grackle nest in the tree, causing the grackles to move to my neighbor’s yard. (Not really a problem when it comes to grackles.) Hopefully the squirrel can’t figure out how to get to the dove.

I assigned the munckins a story about the mourning dove in their writing class and the 9yo named her Ellie – which will make it even more difficult to have the dove and her babies destroyed.

But for now she is curled up in her corner of the gutter and she is safe.

Ellie, I hope you stay that way.


Cantigny started out as a country estate for publisher Joseph Medill and later became the home of his grandson, Robert McCormack (as in the same family as Cyrus McCormack). Both were publishers of the Chicago Tribune and McCormack Place was also named after Robert.

Reading and hearing about his life makes one’s mind go in a 100 different directions. You just aren’t sure whether or not you would think he was a good guy or a bad guy if he lived today and you could follow his life in the media. As one line in Wikipedia says: McCormick carried on crusades against gangsters and racketeers, prohibition and prohibitionists, local, state, and national politicians, Wall Street, the East and Easterners, Democrats, the New Deal and the Fair Deal, liberal Republicans, the League of Nations, the World Court, the United Nations, British imperialism, socialism, and communism.

He opposed the US entering World War I, yet a big attraction at his estate is the First Division War Museum which takes you through both World Wars, VietNam and Desert Storm.

When I find out more about him, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile – his 500 acre is open to the public and for $5.00 a carload – you have access to his house, the beautiful gardens, the visitor’s center and the war museum – all very interesting.

As far as the kids are concerned, however, the most exciting part of all are the tanks.

Now, our family is good about not putting up embarrassing pictures of each other or telling embarrassing stories about the kids – but since he is ok, I do have to share this story. The two 7yos were off playing away from THE SISTERS!  Suddenly we heard screaming – one of them (I won’t mention names) was getting off the tank and somehow got his jacket caught on something hanging off the tank itself – which caused him to be stuck in midair!  The other 7yo did try to help, but wasn’t too sure what to do about his screaming cousin.  Fortunately, Mom quickly came to the rescue.


We don’t often get to have all four cousins in the same Awana Club – but this week the up-north munchkins got to go to Awana with the down-south munchkins.

A good time was had by all.


Well, we found the elusive Jane Eyre – the movie several people have mentioned that they wanted to see, but couldn’t find a theater where it was actually showing.

The central theme was the character of Jane. She lived above her wretched past. She stayed true to herself. She couldn’t be talked into doing something she knew was wrong.

The theater was packed – people even in the front row.  Several around us did not know the story. The two ladies behind us kept up a constant chat about what would happen next but anyone who had read the book (or seen the other movie versions) would knew they were annoyingly clueless.

But my favorite quote of the day was not from the movie – but from the person sitting next to me.

“Oh, good. I’m glad she went back to Mr. Rochester. I was so afraid she would settle for the preacher.”

I almost turned to her and said, “Hey, I settled for the preacher and it was a good settling.”

But alas … I didn’t.