Small Wins Wednesday: Becoming specialists

Published by Lori Pickert on May 13, 2014 at 08:05 PM

Visiting the bird specialist at the Field Museum. The tail on the Sap-Sucker is stiff to stablize it when going up and down trees.

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Every Wednesday we share a small win from the forumTwitter, the Facebook page, or (with the writer’s permission) from the mail bag.

This week’s small win is from akari:

Today my boys 5 and 7 visited the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago as guest visitors, providing the museum with a dead yellow-bellied sapsucker (found after a window accident) as a specimen. The boys were given a tour of the bird division behind the scene by the bird head there and even met the only artist in residence of the museum!

(Older son commented later on, “Oh, I wish I could paint like her…” I found a book that she wrote on how to paint and I now have ordered for it to be on hold at the public library.)

My older son developed a strong interest in birds that seemed to have been triggered by encouraging naturalist grandmas, their most recent Christmas gifts, and seeing their birder lifestyles. The interest seems to have evolved from the boys’ original strong interest in dinosaurs. We used to call the herds of Canada geese various grazing dinosaur names. Also there was an opportunity at my older son’s Saturday Japanese school to make “product drawings” for their chosen stores in February. T made 23 drawings of birds in 3 days for that project and continued to draw continuously for some time.

A great artist neighbor also around the time commissioned my boys to design postcards to send to a daughter in NY to help celebrate her 30th year. I showed T how to scan drawings, clean them up, combine and edit on photoshop. The feedback and the little notes our neighbor sent our boys after each delivery were very encouraging. We will be delivering more postcards.

Towards the end of winter we started to feed birds (started from sunflower heads we grew last year) in our backyard (metra train embankment), and now we have a squirrel-buster feeder, a handmade thistle feeder for goldfinches, a suet feeder, and a hummingbird feeder that we have gradually added. We have counted over 15 different species of birds that now come to our feeders and they have developed interest in photography through it. T has submitted a number of his bird photos to the Ranger Rick photo contest and is eager to observe new migrating birds that visit us. We learned about a website called e-bird, from our new ornithologist friend, that would now allow the boys to report their bird sightings. We might set up a birdbath, nesting boxes, and even plant more flowers that would attract hummingbirds. We have a gardening day scheduled for our apartment community, and the boys and I are discussing the possibility of setting up a bird photo gallery (of visitors to our feeders) in the hallway to share with neighbors during snack time.

This win feels big because of how expansive this project is getting to be. They are becoming specialists! Also, my reasons for taking part in the PBH master class was to learn how to help integrate community input and stimulation to their work. I had always been shy about showing other people what my boys do but I think I am getting over that a bit for their own benefit. I feel that I am finally able to put to practice what I have always believed. My kids belong to the world and not just to our small family.

I am most grateful for the PBH community, a supportive husband, and the timing of this strong interest momentum, as I will soon be more busy with the arrival of a new baby. I am encouraged that the growing independence in our boys is gently making the necessary room for me to build a new relationship with a new baby. :)

After I asked akari if I could share her small win here, she added this addendum:

I wanted to add just one more comment. Especially if you might share my report with more people.

This moment of celebration and inspiration to report back to the PBH community as the mother/observer/helper came to me at this particular moment it seems also because I had been feeling rather discouraged about many other things that had been going on in my family. Not to bore you with details but to illustrate what I mean…

My husband’s health is not particularly good and we are currently having trouble straightening out the most basics of health insurance dealings with BCBS. If my husband cannot work any more, I will have to be out working which will put a fast stop to our homeschooling endeavors. We are renovating a new apartment unit where my mother is scheduled to stay prior to and when the baby arrives. The schedule is quite delayed and people are not living up to their promises. My feet swell now and they hurt. I only have a month left where the baby is in a neat little bundle within me. I have a beloved kitty dying with a kidney disease. He had always been with me laboring through every home birth…

When I read positive and happy comment that people make, I tend to get a fixed image of that person “yay”-ing and smiling all the time. But if I stop and think about it I know that is probably not the case. I know that just like all the challenges that I am facing, everyone else has their own challenges. Living is tough sometimes and for that we want to and need to celebrate all that we can say “Yay!!” about. So for the time being and for this particular project I’ve been working on with my kids, “Yay!”

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Yay! Thank you so much for sharing your small win — real people doing real work are more inspiring than anything. 

Why do we share small wins? Because we put on our attention on what we want to grow. We support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and we make more of the good stuff!

Have you had a small win this week? Whether it’s related to PBH or not, please share in the comments!

More birds he recognized. And they got to touch them!

Filling the bird feeders.

T making a thistle seed bird feeder, after we saw a goldfinch.

T drew 26 birds in three days.

Custom postcard made in Photoshop.



Comment by amy21 on May 14, 2014 at 08:39 AM

we had our challenging child evaluated to try and figure out what is going on so we can help him better--we've felt so scattershot, trying everything and hoping something stuck but more or less blindly. we got the results this week and while of course his behavior is the same, it's extremely helpful to know what's driving it. we have recommendations for next steps and much to process and think about, but I'm already finding I have more empathy (truth: I've been worn down) knowing the challenging behavior is the result of some very different ways of processing. Knowing what those different ways are will, I hope, help us help him much, much more effectively.

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 14, 2014 at 03:45 PM

that is awesome — so glad you are getting some useful information!

Comment by Wendy on May 14, 2014 at 09:43 AM

I just love those bird drawings, what a unique style that holds such appeal. What a blessing they must be to the community to get to see them and share in them. Thanks for sharing the expansion of this project from one piece to another, it helps me see even more possibilities.

Comment by amyiannone on May 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM

I secretly recorded my dd4's storytelling that she does while moving around. She seems to want to get a story down on paper as a comic or even a production, but she gets stuck with the blank sheet in front of her. I played back the recording and told her we can pick the characters out, get the story down and draw what's already there. She hadn't wanted me to record, so I took a chance and she liked it. She's also using words like "script" & "scenery" so maybe we'll actually go a little deeper with her prolific storytelling.

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 14, 2014 at 03:46 PM

way to go stealthy! :)

Comment by Amy on May 14, 2014 at 02:44 PM

What great drawings! Impressive! Good luck with the new baby. It looks like your boys will be great big brothers. Maybe they could design a bird mobile?! I know my baby would love that :)

Comment by janet on May 14, 2014 at 02:57 PM

ooh, brilliant idea to include the context of this win. thank you, akari, for sharing your personal details. it is so true that when reading about someone winning, i imagine their beautiful, perfect life rather than their challenges.

our small win this week: my son has been struggling with doing anything challenging, so today i decided to do his *really really hard* japanese lesson with him. after about thirty minutes of heavy giggling, and frantic trying to outpace his previous score, he said, "this is so much fun!" : ) it was.

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 14, 2014 at 03:46 PM

great win, janet :)

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