Saturday, June 29, 2013

Deep Thoughts from Noah #32

Noah: "But, why do I have to have fruit before I can have dessert?  Last night Dad let me eat ice cream and I never ate fruit."
Me: "Hmm...really?"
Steve: "Noah, are you telling on me?"
Noah: "Well, it's for your own good."

Musings from Natalie #53

Natalie: "Mom, do you grow blueberries?"
Me: "Yes.  They are a plant."
Natalie: "Then how do you get macaroni?"

Natalie:
"Mom, how many days will I be alive?"
Me: "Hopefully more than I can count."

Natalie: "I'm so glad I chose you to be my mom."
Me: (Speechless)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Musings From Natalie #52

Natalie: "Mom, can I play on the iPad?"
Me: "No. Go play and use that great imagination of yours."
Natalie: "I can't because I already deleted it."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Catch and Release the Joy

Friday night as I glanced at the clock, I groaned because I realized that I'd done nothing to prepare for our early morning fishing venture with my dear friend, Barb and her posse of four.

"Don't worry, Andrea.  You don't need to pack a bag. The derby starts at eight, but the kids are not going to last...we'll be out of there by 8:20 a.m.-- tops!" Steve assured me.

Yet at 6:30 a.m Natalie (who had climbed into our bed at 2 a.m. with whoas of bad dreams) woke up with a start and shook my shoulder to announce,"Mama!  We've got to get up early. Today is a special day!"

As I scurried around the house making sure everyone was fed, dressed and ready for our 7 a.m. departure, Steve got the poles and other fishing paraphenalia organized and packed into the trunk.  We arrived at the park to find our friends already there.  Per usual, her kids took extra care in dressing themselves.  Her two oldest girls decked out in matching rainbow-striped hats to go with their colorful ensembles and open toed footwear.  While her younger two had each carefully selected fish-themed tops to wear for their first fishing derby.  Mine...well...as I noticed later, were all dressed in orange.

While Barb headed to the registration table, I hung back with the kids. As Steve threaded hooks, Natalie prattled on excitedly.  Although she had never participated in a derby before, listening to her talk to the other kids, you'd think she were a pro already.  It's true, Steve has been taking her fishing since she was a toddler, but I think her confidence and love for the sport comes from Steve's own enthusiasm and approach to teaching.  Over the years he's learned that the secret to keeping kids interested in fishing is:

 #1 Catch Fish - If kids aren't catching fish they are going to get bored real quick. Make sure to take them to places that you know have been recently stocked.

#2 Keep It Short n'Sweet - Kids in general have a very short attention span.  Select a location that is close to home because oftentimes a 30 minute fishing session is all they can handle.

#3 Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Scolding for improper technique will turn kids off to fishing in record time.  Instead, focus on their progress and praise them for it.  For example, a child who casts without help or baits his own hook for the first time.  In the beginning, it's all about getting and keeping them interested in the sport.

By 7:45 a.m. all three girls had poles in the water.  They chose a spot just a few feet from where we first arrived and as Steve eyed the dense vegetation, he agreed that it was as good of a place as any to fish. Within minutes Natalie was squealing, "I got one! I got one!"  And, it was a nice one.  A catfish nearly a foot long.  Unfortunately, she caught it at 7:53 a.m. and seven minutes before the official start so it wouldn't count.  A few more minutes ticked by and more squeals could be heard from the bank, this time from Lindsay, Barb's seven year old.  She caught herself a little bluegill just three minutes shy of the 8 a.m. start. But the news didn't dampen their spirits, on the contrary, it only served to fuel the fire. As soon as Steve was able to get the fish off their lines, they were ready to rebait their hooks.

They had the fever.

In the first 14 minutes of the derby, Natalie caught three fish.  And, just as Steve tossed the last one back into the water, Megan, Barb's oldest, began hollering, "I got one!"

It was 8:16 a.m.

I almost felt bad for the scorekeepers who had chosen to monitor our group.  They were seasoned derby volunteers and had brought with them comfy, outdoor chairs, but with our group of anglers, their rumps had little use for them. Just as they finished recording a measurement for one girl's catch another girl was excitedly reeling in her next one.

I cursed myself for not placing a bet with Steve earlier.

8:20 a.m....HA!

Hmmm...snips and snails and catfish tails...sometimes it's what little girls are made of!

As the morning progressed, I observed how Steve quizzed the girls on the type of fish they had caught and gently encouraged them to try casting on their own. By 10 a.m. when we heard the call signaling the end of the derby, all three girls were baiting, casting, and even removing the icky, black vegetation that often tangled their lines, without any help from Steve.

The derby may have been over, but the girls weren't all that anxious to quit.  Their enthusiasm was infectious and drew the attention of Barb's five year old twins, Jenna and Carter, who then decided they were ready to fish, too.  As the officials collected the score sheets and began tallying them, the girls chattered on about their catches.

"I can't believe it.  I caught firteen!" squealed Natalie.

More than 60 kids registered for Des Peres Park's 10th Annual Youth Fishing Derby so it took 40 minutes for the final scores to be counted, but the kids never complained.  In the end Megan won the "total length award" for the 10-12 age group with 104 inches while Natalie swept it for her division with 107.50 inches and Lindsay made a decent show with 42 inches.  And, while the two girls each received tackle boxes filled with lots of fishing gear, I feel the real prize did not come from anything that could be purchased in a sporting goods store. The true reward came in the form of budding confidence, comaraderie and joy the three girls found in fishing that day.

The girls chattered on excitedly as Steve threaded their hooks.
"I wanna catch a clownfish," said Natalie.
Natalie was happy to smile for the camera.
Lindsay should have been awarded extra points for style. 
The girls kept the scorekeepers busy.
Hot diggity dog. She's a pro at baiting her own hook.
Weed control
Megan and Natalie stand together as the judges tally up the scores.
Upon hearing her name, Natalie wasted no time collecting her award..
Megan and Natalie show off their winnings.
"Sweet mama!" she cried as she gazed at her prize.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Musings From Natalie #51

Convo with Natalie after VBS camp:
Natalie: "Mom, my camp counselor is a teenage boy...just like last summer."
Me: "ummhmm."
Natalie: "I can't remember his name so I decided to call him Smokey Pants...he said that was ok."
(Dear God: I'm going to need more than one village for this one.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Musings From Natalie #50

Convo with Natalie as we head into the building for her first day of vacation bible school camp:
Natalie: "Mom, do you think everyone is nervous today?  Because I have caterpillars in my stomach that are getting ready to turn into butterflies."
Me: "I'm sure everyone is a little nervous and excited.  You are going to have a GREAT time!"
Natalie: "What do they do there?...give you foot massages?"
Me: "Foot massages?  Where did you get that idea?"
Natalie: "You said it's called vee-cation camp."
(Sigh...I think I need one.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

11 Years...Steel in Love

Unlike my daughter, my dramatic play as child was always pretty routine. Dress Barbie, do her hair, then "da da da da" down my make-believe church aisle and ta da! She and Ken are married and it's happily ever after.  Time to watch a little Sesame Street, jump rope or grab my hula hoop.  Getting married was always part of my childhood play and my lifetime plan, but I never dreamed how much work it would take or the depths I would go to hold it together.  I was 28 when I met Steve.  At the time we were both seasoned players of "the dating game".  Steve had actually already been down the aisle twice before, but when he asked for my hand, he told me that I made him want to be a better man.  He promised to always take care of me and love me in the way I deserved.  I was smitten by his rugged good looks and jar-head mentality to not only protect me, but treat me with respect and kindness. Loving him has always felt safe and good and the right thing to do.

In 11 years we've had more financial snafus, ER visits and emotional stress than I ever thought I was capable of handling.  However, I believe Steve's unwavering faith in God has strengthened and fortified my own.  Through lots of drier than dirt humor, Steve has helped me find the courage to laugh when I just wanted to lay down and cry.  He's helped me learn to not sweat the small stuff. Over the years I've watched him make good on his promise to do his best to take care of our family.  No matter the cost.  Whether by working overtime, going back to school, beginning a new career, or even participating in medical research to better our family's financial standing.  Several years ago, when we were in the throes of dealing with Noah's health concerns and struggling to make ends meet, Steve began looking for creative ways to earn more money -- and FAST.  He signed up to participate in a research study in exchange for cash.  The assignment required an overnight stay at the facility and involved more than 20 blood draws in a 24 hour period.  When he returned home both of his arms were riddled with bruises.  I gasped in horror, but Steve wasn't the least bit bothered by the event.  A little blood-letting was nothing to my former Marine, who years earlier, had spent time on the front lines.  Later that week Steve found an ad from another lab doing diabetic research.  They were prepared to pay participants $100k in exchange for allowing them to amputate one pinky toe.  

"Can you imagine what we could do with $100k?" Steve suggested.
"It's totally out of the question!" I replied.
"But, it's just one toe...I have nine more," he reasoned.
"No."
(He's now talking to himself because I've gone into the kitchen, but I can still hear him yammering on)
"I wonder if they'd give me $200k if I let them take BOTH little toes...then I wouldn't need to buy two different sized shoes," he continued.

For weeks, Steve found ways to squeeze the topic of "this little piggy went wee wee all the way to the research lab" into our conversations.  Thankfully, God gave us both the gift of bull-headedness and I was able to outlast and out-debate his outlandish scheme to get us out of debt.

11 Years!  Google tells me that the traditional gift is steel...and I believe it.  I just don't plan on buying or receiving cutlery, jewelry or a kitchen appliance as an anniversary gift.  This year...11 years, represents having nerves of steel and the strength, love and commitment needed to carry on for 11 more and beyond.

Happy Anniversary Steve...my very own Man of Steel!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Bliss

sum·mer 1  (smr) n.

1. Usually warmest season of the year, occurring between spring and autumn and constituting June, July, and August in the Northern Hemisphere, or, as calculated astronomically, extending from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox; "they spent a lazy summer at the shore"


2. the period of finest development, happiness, or beauty; "the golden summer of his life"

However, if you live in St. Louis, summer vacation for our kids begins in late spring and weather conditions aren't always conducive to enjoying a dip in the pool or a trip to the zoo. The kids have been out for 30 days and half of them have been either rainy or too cool for swimming.

What's a mom to do?

I've come up with a list of 6 indoor activities to keep your school-aged kiddos from climbing the walls and you from retreating for the nearest closet with a family-sized bag of Peanut M&Ms: 


#1 Become scientists -- Using everyday household items, together you can do easy, yet fun experiments to spark their creativity and zest for learning new things.  Score extra points with your kids by trying out some sweet ventures that Loralee Leavitt has cooked up at www.candyexperiments.com  


Natalie and I tried to make a density rainbow but instead...
"We got chocolate milk," said Natalie.  She was embarrased by our candy experiment blunder, but I just reminded her that it just gives us another excuse to try it again!
#2 Have a LEGO challenge -- Write down building ideas onto scraps of paper and then have the kids take turns drawing one from a jar. Ideas such as: Build an animal that swims in the ocean, Create your own dinosaur and then name it, Make an alien that you'd find on Mars.  Then, if you want to expand their listening interests, set your Pandora station to something calming yet inspirational like Mozart, Bach or Beethoven. I found an awesome blog filled with 51 LEGO challenge ideas

#3 If you have daughters...Have an in-home spa day -- My 6 year old loves to file and paint my nails and spray my hair down with an array of mousse and hair gels.  If you're lucky, you may get a chance to enjoy a Cosmo or People under the guise of "dramatic play". Go here for more than a dozen facial, foot and nail treatments to do with kids using everyday food and kitchen items.

#4 Visit your local library -- Sign up for your library's summer reading program.  Kids earn prizes while building their vocabularies and reading skills.  Libraries also offer an array of summer programs that will keep your kids happy and engaged.  Ours has brought in professionals and aficionados from many different disciplines including juggling, magic, rope and yo-yo experts to storytelling, entomology and hula dancing.  If you live in St. Louis County go here to view their calendar of events.  If you live in the city, go here


This week we joined some friends at Oak Bend Library for an afternoon of "Digging Into the Past".  The library's youth services specialist, Laura Polak, stimulated learning and creativity using sweet treats as the catalyst.  The topic was archaeology...a seemingly (YAWN) difficult topic to get kids excited about.  However, she began the event by revving up their silly engines by asking for their help in completing a Mad Lib about Mammoths. Once she had their attention she was able to easily segue into a short, five minute powerpoint to explain the basics of archaeology. Next, she introduced them to a fun, hands-on way to become junior archaeologists.  Each child was given a toothpick, soft-chocolate chip cookie and grid sheet to plot out their dig.  The object of the game was to see how many chocolate chips they could dig out without disturbing their (cookie) site.  Next, they tried it using a crunchy chocolate chip cookie and finally a crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie.  They learned that the conditions of the site (hard versus soft) affected the difficulty of retrieving an object.  They also discovered that if the object was solid (like the raisins) it was much easier to retrieve than items that are soft and crumbly like the chocolate chips. 

Laura asks the kids how many chips they were able to remove successfully.
Connor and Noah plot out their dig.
Natalie and Ava were all business
Success never tasted so sweet!
#5 Go Bowling...for FREE! During the summer kids across the United States and Canada can bowl two free games every day!  Click here to sign up and to find a participating bowling alley near you.

#6 Watch a movie TOGETHER -- Pop up some popcorn (Click here for dozens of new popcorn recipes to try) and introduce your kids to some of the movies you enjoyed as a child...though keep in mind that movies we enjoyed may have more language than your kids have been exposed to as PG movies of the 80's are often filled with PG-13 movie language of today.  The kids and I recently watched all three of the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" movies.  And, although they might not be tops with me, the kids LOVED them and I have to admit it was a nice reprieve from SpongeBob Squarepants.  During the month of June, Family Video will give your kids a free movie rental for each A (or A equivalent) they received on their final report card. Click here for more details or to find a Family Video near you.  

I hope these ideas provide you with more golden than "get me outta here" summer moments. 


Friday, June 14, 2013

I Know What You Mean #16

"Mom, please don't give me any more of those hairy peas.  I just don't like them," shared Natalie.
Hmmm...I think she meant edamame.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Almost Famous

This morning started out the same.  Noah, always the first one up, bounds out of his room to greet me the moment he hears my footsteps in the kitchen.  To say he's "bright eyed and bushy tailed" in the morning is an understatement.  And, with quarters as close as ours, I have to work fast to redirect his energy.  I remind him again to get dressed and to use his whisper voice so as not to wake sleeping beauty (a.k.a. Natalie) whose bed is only a few steps from the kitchen.  It's 6:30 and he's been up for more than an hour and ready to have a deep conversation with me about my favorite Star Wars character.

"It's still Han Solo, Noah."

I dash around the kitchen, I'm in a race to prepare Noah's standard...an omelet with "square cheese", two slices of bacon (thank goodness for micros), two slices of toast with a sprinkling of chocolate chips, and a bowl of Cheerios with milk and bananas.

We've decided he must have hollow legs or worms because Noah's a kid who has to run around in the shower to get wet.  Yet, I'm happy to prepare him this hearty meal as there was a time not so long ago when all he wanted to eat was Ranch dressing.

Once he's fed, I can give him the meds his body needs so that he isn't bouncing off the walls or inviting conflict at home or school.

As I put Noah's plate in front of him, my T-shirt catches his eye and he begins reading the words inprinted on it.

"Action for Autism Family Fun Walk?...Mom, what does Autism mean?" asked Noah.

His question caught me offguard and in that second it set off an internal war in my head.  Why hadn't I prepared myself for this question?

I put down my spatula and sat down next to him. I began, "Autism is a neurological disorder..."

"Huh?"
"It's just a term used to describe how some people's brains process information differently."
"And I have it?" he inquired excitedly. His voice going up an octave.
"Yes," I replied.
"Yay! So, I'm like famous?" he cheered.
"I think you are on your way, buddy."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Musings From Natalie #49

While Natalie enjoyed her ice cream sundae she philosophied, "I love whooped cream because you don't even have to chew it...it's like water."

(Hmmm...I wonder how much happier the world would be if 70% of it were made up of cream)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Musings From Natalie #48

Natalie: "Mom, how can God see everyone in the world at the same time?  Does he have like 1,000 eyes?
Me: "I don't know that he has 1,000 eyes.  I think he is just all knowing because he is God."
Natalie: "Wow! Can I get his autograph?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Believe I Can Fly

I am not a quitter by any stretch of the imagination.  Once I begin a project -- I see it through to the end.  No matter how much blood, sweat and tears are required.  My biggest roadblock is often in the starting.  As a parent, raising a child with special needs, I'm conditioned to come up with creative ways to help my child learn and do all the things I see his peers doing.  But sometimes, the road stretched before me seems all uphill.

It's those times that I'm reminded of the words from American Poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision."

And, it's also about this time I must remind my hard-headed self that I'm not supposed to be doing this alone.

A couple of months ago Noah's occupational therapist asked me why Noah wasn't riding a bike.  Her question caught me off guard and I responded with something like, "Are you crazy?"

Seriously, we're talking about a kid who regularly stubs his toe or bumps his head walking from his bedroom to the kitchen.  The idea of teaching him to ride a bike on two wheels seemed like a prescription for an ER visit.  But, then she told me about a program called "I Can Shine" (formally known as Lose the Training Wheels).  I was hesitant, but decided to investigate the program.  When I went online I learned that together the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis (DSAGSL) and the Lydia Faith Cox Foundation would be hosting the five day bike camp in my area.  I spoke with Erin Suelmann, DSAGSL's Program Director, who shared some encouraging stats...the "I Can Shine" program boasts an 80% success rate.

I liked those odds.

The program costs $150 but because of the generosity of both the DSAGSL and the Lydia Faith Cox  Foundation, included a brand new bike and custom-fitted helmet for each camper.

On the first day Noah was a little apprehensive.  "Why are we doing this?" he asked.

"Because it's going to be great!  YOU are going to learn to ride a bike!"

Noah was really worried about falling.  I assured him that he would have two spotters, one on either side of him, who would be making sure he was safe. Camp was held at South Technical High School in Sunset Hills.  After we signed in and he received his official "I Can Shine" t-shirt, we headed over to the bike helmet-fitting area.  Two representatives from Children's Hospital were on hand to make sure each camper had a perfectly fit helmet.  While Noah waited in line, he was introduced to Steph and Heather, the two volunteers who would be spotting and cheering Noah on all week.  Immediately, Steph began breaking the ice by finding ways to interject Star Wars into their conversations.  I'd forgotten that earlier, when I'd initially signed Noah up for camp, that I had provided them with a list of Noah's likes.

I breathed a sigh.

We were off to a good start.  After Noah received his helmet, the three of them headed to the gym and the team put Noah on one of their special "roller bikes".  Each roller bike has been handcrafted and designed by retired, mechanical engineering professor and program founder, Richard Klein.  That first day, I watched Noah's confidence grow with each lap he made around the gym -- all the while his two spotters were running alongside him -- laughing and eager to listen to Noah share his vast knowledge of Star Wars trivia during the 75 minute session.

Day 1 was centered on developing trust and growing confidence
That evening at dinner, when it was Noah's turn to say what he was thankful for, he shared, "I'm thankful for bike camp."

I pushed down the lump that had suddenly taken over all the space in my throat and squeaked, "me too."

The next day, Noah was excited about going to camp and eagerly jumped on a bike.  By day three, he was up on two wheels!  Between running (literally) his spotters ragged as he pedaled with more confidence and speed!...Noah really enjoyed leaving his mark as he squeezed his brakes hard to make tire tracks at the end of the straightway.

"How long was that one?" he inquired.

Boys...everything is a competition.

Day four was devoted to turning.  He fell once and I held my breath but kept my feet planted to the spot as the volunteers were quick to get Noah back up on his bike to try...try again.

Steph and Zack had to work hard to keep up with my little speed demon.
As I watched Noah ride and Steve snap enough pictures for us to create a stop action movie...I spent a little time talking to Suzie Risher, founder of the Lydia Faith Cox Foundation, named after her daughter who died three years ago.

I marveled at this woman.  She could have easily (and I wouldn't blame her a bit!) curled up and let her grief swallow her up.  I cannot imagine a grief larger than when a parent loses a child.  But, she didn't.   And, because of her vision to see beyond today and even tomorrow --she has given myself and many other parents the opportunity to watch our children soar.

I believe Lydia's spirit was with us at camp, giving each one of our children invisible wings...now it's up to us not to clip them with thoughts of doubt.

Today, after another successful ride with his Dad, Noah came in to tell me that he rode down our hill for the first time..."and I went FAST!"  He told me he kept thinking, "I believe I can fly."

Suzie is hoping to grow her camp so as to offer, twice as many children the opportunity to learn to ride a bike.  More money and more volunteers are needed.  She is always looking for bike spotters.  Children as young as 12 can work as spotters when riders are starting out on the roller bikes. However, spotters must be at least 16 to work with riders who have moved outside the gym training area and are up on two wheels.  To find out about ways you can help support this charity, please visit the Lydia Faith Cox Family Foundation website.

Visit the I Can Shine website to learn more about programs happening in your area or to host a program yourself.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Musings From Natalie #47

Convo with Natalie after camp:Natalie: "Patrick says he doesn't want to sit by any girls...only boys. He thinks we should have separate tables. That Patrick is a cracker!" 
Me: "A cracker? What does that mean?" 
Natalie: "He just cracks me up!"


After Natalie finished her dinner she announced, "Now I'm ready for the main course!"

Me: What do you mean?
Natalie: Ice cream!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wingin' It

Anyone who knows me, will tell you -- I'm a planner...and not just a few days in advance.  I like to  plan weeks, sometimes months ahead.  Whether it's setting money aside before our 11 year old dryer decides to take a permanent...press vacation, securing a sitter six weeks before an event or mapping out our summer activities in March - it's clear, I like to have things settled and decided.  I'm not sure where I inherited my planning genes, certainly not from my parents. They have always been big proponents of "winging it".  For as long as I can remember, my Dad worked seven days a week.  But, every summer, my parents would set aside two weeks to take my brother and sister and I on a family vacation. It was the 80's and a time when seatbelts were optional yet it was always expected that we begin our trips at 3 a.m.  My mom would lay the back seat of our powder blue stationwagon down flat and make a bed for us in hopes that we'd sleep for the first five hours of the drive. When I would ask what they had planned for our trip, I often heard, "We're just going to play it by ear." Their plans were often little more than a final destination.

Argh.  Who are these people? I must have been adopted.

I vividly recall the first time I tried to help my planning-challenged parents.  I was about eight or nine years old and saw a commercial on visiting Florida. The cheery announcer even had a phone number for viewers to call to receive a free packet of travel information.  I called up the number and ordered the materials, but when they arrived and I excitedly explained how easy it would be for them to make reservations...they just laughed. "Why would we want to do that?" 

It was then and there that I knew...I was definitely adopted.

Even so, we always had a good time --whether it was seeing Dorothy's ruby slippers at the Smithsonian, making hand-dipped candles in historic Williamsburg, sand surfing along Lake Michigan or riding bikes around Macinac Island. I hate to admit it, but my parent's unplanned vacations are among my fondest childhood memories.

But, that doesn't mean I've been able to easily rid myself of my planning ways.

However, this weekend somehow snuck up on me, and I found myself in a rare position...Steve did not have to work, the kids didn't have any extracurricular plans or birthdays to attend, it was Saturday and I hadn't planned a thing for us to do!  At 1 p.m. I'd decided that eventhough the weather looked crummy, we were not going to waste a precious day with all of us together in one room, but all hooked into different electronic devices.  I rifled my brain to come up with a quick solution -- something outdoors, educational and free.  

By 1:30 p.m. Steve and I had loaded the kids into the car and were headed west on highway 44 to World Bird Sanctuary.  Though we hadn't visited in more than five years, I felt sure there would be something of interest for the kids.  I knew it would be educational and as always - admission and parking are free. As it turned out, we arrived on "National Trails Day" and just minutes before the start of their Saturday Animal Encounters show. We headed to the amphitheater and spent 30 minutes being both entertained and educated by two of the Sanctuary's naturalists, Christina and Trina, on many birds of prey.

World Bird Sanctuary was founded in 1977 by Ornithologist, Walter C. Crawford, Jr. Today, the  property located on 305 acres of Missouri hardwood forest is managed by 25 full time staffers. Each year more than 300 birds are treated in their state-of-the art Wildlife Hospital.  Their rehabilitation program is run by volunteer veterinarians and experienced staff and interns.  The goal is to release as many raptors as possible back into the wild. In addition, they've treated more than 900 parrots as part of their parrot rehabilitation and placement program. Cost to care for one injured bird is about $1,000.
Propagation is another important aspect of the Sanctuary. To date they've released more than 900 barn owls into the wild in Illinois and Missouri. And, because of their efforts, the barn owl was removed from Missouri's endangered species in October 2008. They have also cooperatively reintroduced Andean Condors, bald eagles, golden eagles and Harris hawks.

The mission of World Bird Sanctuary is to preserve the earth's biological diversity and to secure the future for threatened bird species in their natural environments through education, propagation, field studies and rehabilitation.

World Bird Sanctuary is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving and Christmas. They offer free seasonal shows, nature trails, educational programs for schools and scouting troops and picnic pavilions.  Come see their live displays of bald eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, vultures, parrots, reptiles and much more.

Click here to check out their events calendar.

Click here to learn how you can help support the World Bird Sanctuary -- everything from participating in their "adopt-a-bird" program, purchasing an item from their wish list to using goodsearch as your search engine...every little bit helps.

And, as I've come to learn...sometimes wingin' it is not only fun, but educational, too!


Patiently waiting for the show to begin.

Goblin, 10 year old barn owl was hatched at the Sanctuary. In the wild, their average life span is less than 2 years.

Mischief happily earned his keep by accepting donations from everyone.
Natalie decided to help out the Sanctuary by purchasing a stuffed owl from their gift shop.
Noah loved the hat he received as part of their National Trail Days promotion.
The kids stand in a replica of an eagles nest.  The biggest one recorded was 9 1/2  feet in diameter and 20 feet high 
The Sanctuary is located next to Lone Elk Park.  We drove through and found the place lived up to it's name.