Monday, August 12, 2013

Photographs and Memories

I'm sure you've all heard the song, unless you're younger than me... in which case you might not even know who Jim Croce was. But the song has been playing in my head today as I think about Ohio.

I love Alabama, but Ohio is my home. Does that mean I want to move back? No. I've started a new journey here. In fact, I plan on moving down to Mobile next year. I fully intend on staying in Alabama. The birding here, while Ohio's is great, has actually helped me decide to stay for good.

But, I have been thinking about my old birding haunts. All I have left of them are photographs and memories. Killbuck Marsh, Killdeer Plains, Battelle Darby, Pickerington Ponds, Brown Family Environmental Center and the Kokosing Gap Trail, Mohican Valley Trail and the Bridge of Dreams, Knox Lake, and Kokosing Lake.... all of these places are now things of my past. 

Part of me is homesick, I think. Maybe for the birding, maybe for the people and family I left behind... moving to Alabama was a difficult decision. I don't normally tell my personal story publicly, but I haven't seen my two oldest daughters in two months now, as I prepare to save up for a place of my own. Currently, my three youngest children and I live with my sister. My two oldest are with my parents back in Ohio. I gave up practically everything I owned other than the clothes on our backs, one of my dogs, and my vehicle to move down here. I am rebuilding my life, my belongings, my family piece-by-piece. This is why I bird the way I do. It's the only thing, the only thing, that makes my situation bearable. It's the only thing, that keeps me from running back to Ohio.

Wow, so this birding blog is suddenly turning personal isn't it? I guess because I don't really talk about it, it builds up to the point that I need to put it somewhere...

Maybe you can relate to me. Maybe you can't. Maybe you feel sorry for me... but don't. I can assure you at times, I do that quite well on my own. But, like anything else in life... there's always light at the end of the tunnel, and nothing is ever hopeless.

I miss Ohio. I know I've said it before on this blog. I know it will take time to acclimate here. I need friends... common interest friends. I don't tend to run with the mommy crowd. I don't do play dates and playground get-togethers. I feel pretty socially awkward at times, because I've spent my last almost ten years as a stay-at-home-mom, with my only real socialization being interaction with my children. I'm short-fused, mostly because every ounce of patience I have is saved for my children. But still, I think I could make friends if given the opportunity. I think I'm fairly likable anyways!

This post is almost becoming one of those "About Me" type deals. Why am I posting this? Hmm... that's a good question. I think it brings some sort of depth to the blog. The majority of my audience doesn't know me personally... and when I just write about trips, sure you can see my passion and sense of humor, but do you really see who I am?

So, who am I?

I am first and foremost a mother of the five most amazing children:

 Aubrey is my oldest. She is smart, a free-thinker. She loves to dance and draw and talk about dinosaurs. She is an Aspie (Asperger's Syndrome), but don't let that define her. She is truly a one-of-a-kind child. Her goofy laugh could put a smile on most anyone's face.

Morgan is my second daughter. She is a polar opposite of Aubrey. She's my only brunette, which can get me a few odd stares when I have them all out in public together, as my family has dubbed my children "The Blonde Brigade +Morgan". She looks just like my dad, and is a friend to everyone. She loves meeting new people and telling them her life story. She sings, dances, dresses up like a princess... a true girly girl. But she also loves to go on hikes with me to learn about birds.

Charlotte is my third daughter. There is one word to describe her: Hilarious. She is so friendly, and so funny. She loves to tell "Knock-Knock" jokes, loves to cuddle with Rumor (our dog), loves to play, and loves birdwatching with mom. She might be my future birdwatcher of all of them. She LOVES trying to find the birds hiding in the trees and bushes.

Libby is my youngest daughter. Wow, how to describe her. Spirited is a word used commonly in the natural parenting community to describe children like her. She is constantly on-the-go. Never stops moving. She is also on the spectrum like her oldest sister, but doesn't have a definitive diagnosis. She can be challenging, frustrating, and difficult, but she is still amazing. Even though it's rare, sometimes, she will just want to cuddle and get hugs and kisses, and it melts my heart. Just like all of my children, she is truly one-of-a-kind.

And finally, there's Seth. My only son. Seth was a surprise child, and what a pleasant surprise he was! My easiest pregnancy, my calmest baby. Yeah, that's all gone by the wayside! Once he started walking at nine months, forget about it! He's inquisitive, social, and very talkative. He's always climbing, and diving off of things, and yelling at the dogs ("Bad girl!"). He loves to eat (what growing boy doesn't?), and also often times tags along on birding outings with mom, riding on my back in my Boba carrier.

I truly adore all of my children. While they've made my life tons more challenging, they've also made it tons more rewarding. There is nothing quite like birding with young kids in tow, showing them your passion, and hoping it leads them to their own things to be passionate about. (Even if it's not birding!)

Enough with the proud mom braggery... I guess I can tell you a little bit about me.

I was born in 1983 in Columbus, Ohio. I am a twin (fraternal though... we couldn't look more different if we tried!), with two older brothers. I grew up in the city, of course, and learned to be tough from an early age. Mostly because my two older brothers taught me to be. As long as I can remember, I loved birds. My first bird book was the Reader's Digest Birds of North America. I memorized every single bird in the book. By age six, my parents said I could name any bird that we came across with 100% accuracy. My fondest memories as a child were going to Blacklick Woods Metro Park and walking the trails and watching the birds at the feeders behind the nature center. Once I was in high school, though, birding fell by the wayside. Then, shortly after high school came a marriage and children, and it wasn't until recently (this year actually), that I once again became active on the forums and met someone who really inspired me to start doing what I'd always loved once again. (I am forever grateful to you for that, by the way!)

I have traveled to each coast. Once at 19 years of age, traveling to Los Angeles from Mount Vernon, Ohio with my best friend, Denise. I have lived in Kentucky (Louisville), Missouri (Kansas City and Saint Joseph), Ohio (Columbus, Mt. Vernon, Howard, and Fredericktown), and now Alabama (Huntsville). I like to believe I am fairly well-traveled for my age, though there are definitely more places I want to see (and bird at!).

I love to sing, which includes karaoke with my sister. Not to toot my own horn, but we tear it up! I also draw... mostly animals (almost all my clients were dog owners). I used to help a professional AKC handler show Cane Corsos, and I have owned dogs all of my life. My current dog is a Bouvier Des Flandres named Rumor.

So, to sum it up. I love my kids, birding, dogs, singing, and drawing. In that order.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about me? Feel free to ask!

And of course, until next time....
Happy birding (and life!) to all of you!

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