A view of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

We finished our trip to London and while I fight jet lag, some random thoughts:

There’s more to the saying “the sun never sets on the British Empire” because in July the sun set around 9:30PM and was up and shining by 4:30AM. With hours like that, yeah, I guess it really was true at some point. I’m used to it being dark around 8:30PM and  until at least 6 to 6:30AM.

I loved being surrounded by history and art and culture and books! It had the energy of a big city but I liked being able to visit castles and visiting places that I read about in books.

I live in the SF Bay Area. I am jealous of a public trans system that works. We even traveled by boat on our oyster cards.

If I go back to London, I’ll pre-purchase an oyster card (or hopefully have a contactless credit card) and an HRP membership.

And when traveling in summer, pack both swimming suits and sweaters even when the news says there is a heat wave. My California girls found some days freezing.

We loved the playgrounds there. They had interesting little play features that we don’t have where I live but we have a lot more water play features, which makes sense since we live in sunny California.

Afternoon tea. I like this ritual.


my 7 year old, on being invited to a play date

“Mommy, do you know that I know how love feels?”

“No, I didn’t know you knew. How does it feel?”

“It feels like my heart is pounding so big that my chest is going to explode and like I’m going to fall down. That’s how I know it’s love. I felt that when I saw J____.”

“Really? And how long have you felt like this?”

“Since I learned that J____ liked space, too. We have that in common.”

big kid writing

While I was cooking, my three year old found one of my pens on the kitchen counter and asked if I could write. I gave her a little red memo book, but when she takes the book from me, she says, “Mommy, write words for me.”

I thumb through the book, looking for a blank page. “What would you like me to write?”

“A pilot fish is a shark’s friend.”

I write it down.

“Mommy, you’re not writing the right letters! The letters should be connected.”

“Oh, do you mean cursive?” I write the sentence a second time in cursive. “There. ‘A pilot fish is a shark’s friend.'”

“No, Mommy.” Her voice is impatient. “You didn’t write what I said.”

“Yes, I did. These are grown up letters.” I’m still not sure what she wants.

“Like this.” She takes the pen in her hand and draws a squiggly line with sharp peaks and valleys. “That’s how you write like a big kid.”


meaningful colors

On Monday, my 6 year old daughter was frustrated that after a bath with her little sister and little sister got the blue towel and I tried to give her a gray towel. She cried out that she hated gray. “Gray is the color of hateful! and blue is the color of beauty!”

It was such a striking comment for her to make. She is normally not the poetic sort. I pulled out another towel – dark blue (her sister had a lighter blue) – and it turned out that dark blue is the color of deepest beauty.

Today, she mentioned to me that blue is beautiful and hot pink is the color of love.

I asked her if they were associating color with feelings at school. No, she said. She got it from the Lantern Corp.

ah, comics. Her colors don’t always correspond to the colors of Green Lantern and his friends, but she got the idea from the character and ran with it.

I forgot what color she told me laughter is.

Our Temporary Duck Pond

So, the ducks stayed the night and played in our pool on Sunday. Overnight, we could see that the ducklings were just a little larger than they were the night before. Mama duck still wanted her babies to get out of the pool at the spot near where the nest was located so we built a new ramp and they seemed to like that much better. However, once we did that we noticed that while Mama Duck could do it that the duckings were too small to jump over some low bricks to get into the back corner of the yard.

So we took the pavers from the platform we had made the day before and made a little brick stairway that the ducklings could use to hop up. The ducklings didn’t go near it during the day and huddled under mama before the sun went down for a good night’s sleep, but they must have used it overnight.

In the middle of the night – or perhaps the wee hours of the morning – I thought I heard the ducklings. They make a sort of chirping noise rather than a quack. It was still dark and I fell back asleep but there were no sign of the ducks when we all got up.

They’ve been gone ever since. We’re both relieved and a little sad that our little duck family opted to move.

ducks in the water

I came downstairs for breakfast and learned that there was a duck in our pool. This didn’t surprise me since I had seen a lone duck in the backyard a few weeks ago but what did surprise me was that she had ducklings with her. Ten little fuzzy ducklings swam after their mama duck round and round the pool. We realized after a little bit that while the mama duck jumped in and out of the pool just fine that the baby ducklings were too little to hop out.

I surfed the Internet and learned that ducklings don’t have the same waterproofing on their feathers and that they can drown. At first, we tried to set up a ramp for the ducks but none of our attempts were stable. So we turned over a bucket underwater, set it on the pool steps, and placed a round paving stone on top to steady it and act as a platform. It took the ducks awhile to figure it out or maybe mama duck didn’t trust what we had put out – the ducklings swam in a tight formation around her at the far end of the pool while we set up the platform – but after we gave them a little space, the ducklings led their mama to the bucket and hopped on to the paver to get a little reprieve from swimming. It took them a little while longer to figure out that they can hop from the paving stone and out of the pool.

Our two year old daughter wanted to bring the ducks in to our house, but we explained to her that ducks like water and sky and that they would not like to be inside the house where they would not be able see the sky. She eventually accepted this and also understood that the ducklings needed to find a way out of the pool. She tried to help set up a ramp for the ducks.  When the ducklings finally figured out they could jump out of the pool, she cheered them on – from inside the house – yelling “hurray! hurray!”

So, now the ducks know they can get out of the water, but they haven’t figured out that they can walk around the pool to their nest, which we figure is hidden in the bushes in the back corner on the other side of the fence. Maybe, we thought, they’ve decided to swim for the day because it has been a hot day and the pool is in direct sun. The ducklings hopped in and out of the pool, but never all at once and eventually, the ones who hop out, hop back into the pool. But when we got back at dinner time from an afternoon party, we found the mama duck huddling by the pool, her babies beneath her where you can barely see them, right in front of the platform we set up. It looks like they’re spending the night there and I worry about the poor mama duck out in the open, huddled in the cold, trying to keep her babies warm.

Why won’t they walk the few feet back to their nest?

There seems to be a specific spot where the mama duck wants to get out of the pool to lead her ducklings back into the bushes, but the water is deep there so we can’t set up the platform there. My husband set up a ramp in that spot but the ducklings don’t seem interested in using it.

I guess tomorrow we find a wildlife rescue organization so we can get advice on what to do next.