Good News Report – Duck “Supermom”!

Photographer Brent Cizek has captured photos of an amazing mama duck, who is taking care of 75 – yes, SEVENTY FIVE – babies!

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A lake in Bemidji, Minnesota is the home of this Common Merganser supermom, who is busy raising an army of ducklings. Observers have counted at least 75 babies, who are growing and seem to be doing well in their huge family.

Experts say the most likely explanation is that most of the ducklings were somehow lost or separated from their real mothers, and adopted by their current foster mom.

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If there’s a “Mom of the Year” award, I think this brave lady should get the prize!

Check out the original article at Majically: Supermom Duck

See Brent Cizek’s instagram

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Handmade Christmas!

My family has recently started a tradition where we draw names for Christmas presents. We agree on a price point, then draw names from a hat and give a gift or two to the person we receive. This year, we decided to try a handmade Christmas – everyone’s gift must be made from scratch with their own hands! We agreed that it could be anything, as long as it was handmade.

I was really curious to see what the gifts would be, because most of my family members aren’t super crafty and I didn’t know what they would come up with. The results were way better than I ever expected!

My gift was an egg holder from my father. I keep chickens as a hobby, so I always have a supply of fresh eggs in the kitchen. He found some old weathered barn wood and turned it into a cool rustic egg display! πŸ˜€

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My gift to Brother #2 were these felt ornaments; one has Mercy’s rez symbol from Overwatch, with her motto “Heroes Never Die” hand-stitched on the back. The other is the Rebellion symbol from Star Wars, with “May the Force Be With You” on the back. I was glad I pulled his name, so I could make something fun and geeky. πŸ˜‰

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One of my sisters was just married over the summer, and she gave her bouquet to my other sister to keep. Sister #2 surprised her by making this awesome picture box displayΒ  in celebration of their wedding.

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Brother #1’s gift to sister #2 was this adorable bird house made from a coconut, complete with “Welcome to the Nut House” sign. XD I’m really proud of my brother, because despite being the least crafty out of everyone, he pulled off a very cute and creative gift!

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My brother-in-law blew everyone away with his gift to my stepmother – this amazing handmade cedar box! The whole thing is done by hand, including the detailed lid. That’s some real woodworking talent there!

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My stepmother made this cool Scrabble memento for my sister-in-law. It has their names, and words like “husband”, “wife”, “forever”, and “family”. Very clever!

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Sister #1 and her husband have recently started watching Game of Thrones, so my sister-in-law made this paper cut-out family crest for them. They also have chickens and love to give away the eggs, so she made the family symbol a hen. I think this is so cool! XD *starts humming GoT theme*

 

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Sister #2 made Brother #1 this cool wooden tool caddy. He’s always working on stuff and has a ton of tools, so this is perfect for him! It has jelly jars filled with nails and screws and other small findings.

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And finally, Brother #2’s gift to our dad, also made with paper cut outs! Our father loves Star Trek, so he made a framed picture of the Enterprise zooming past Earth. So cool!

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We had a great time opening our gifts! Sister #1 started crying when she saw her wedding memento box, which started everyone else getting teary-eyed, lol.

I’m glad we decided to make handmade gifts this year, and I recommend the idea to anyone who wants to try a unique spin on Christmas! πŸ˜€

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Fun Christmas Traditions

I recently saw the animated movie Coco, with a (long) Frozen short in front of it, and both of them focused on the importance of family and family traditions. Since it’s Christmas time, I thought I would take that inspiration and share some of my family’s unique holiday traditions! πŸ™‚

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Christmas Disco

Groovy, man! This record (yes, an actual vinyl record, an archaeological artifact from the prehistoric past) was purchased by someone in my extended family, and ended up in a stack of albums at my grandparent’s house in the 80s. My grandpa made a cassette recording of it, and we’ve been listening ever since. πŸ˜€ Some people hate disco, but this album takes Christmas songs and gives them an energetic, upbeat, happy sound that I love. It’s not outdated, it’s RETRO! /hipsterglasses

Part of my family used to live in a town about fifty miles away, and every year my mother, brother and I would drive up to visit on Christmas Eve. We would play these songs in the car on the ride up, while we looked forward to holiday dinner and visiting with our cousins. My favorite trip was the time we were so behind on wrapping gifts that my brother and I were trying to do it in the car as my mother drove on the way up. Ever wrestled with rolls of wrapping paper in a compact car at 55 mph? XD

I don’t own a turntable, but I actually kept an old-timey cassette player for a long time just to play this tape during the holidays. PS, I listened to this album on Youtube as I was writing this post. πŸ™‚

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Whitman’s Sampler

The gifts we got were different each year as we grew up, but there was always one gift that we were 100% guaranteed to get no matter what — a Whitman’s Sampler. This box of chocolates comes in a distinctively shaped box with old fashioned cross-stitch graphics, and has two levels of candy inside. It was always easy to identify even when wrapped, because of the specific size and shape of the package and the grooves around the top and bottom of the box that could be felt through the paper. Even better…my uncle would always cut the cling wrap on top and slip in a $20 bill! We would open the Sampler first, and snack on the chocolates as we opened the rest of our gifts.

At some point the rights were purchased by another company, and the chocolates inside changed. So the family has mainly switched over to the Russell Stover gift box in modern times. But I’ll always remember the joy of finding the Sampler with my name on it under the tree. And I actually get reminded throughout the year; we saved a bunch of the boxes because they make excellent storage containers!

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Handmade Stockings

When I was in middle school or so, my grandmother began teaching me how to sew. I was really into it, so when December came around I decided to make us some fancy stockings. My mom, brother and I each designed our own stockings, and I cut the felt and sewed them together. I had recently found a bag of assorted sequins at Big Lots, so I blinged them up as only a pre-teen can do! πŸ˜‰

I still have these stockings, and I display them every year as part of the living room Christmas decorations.

This has been a little peek into my family’s personal holiday traditions, that have brought us lots of joy through the years. What are some of your special traditions? (And have you seen Coco yet…because you really should!)

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Little Reminders

In today’s world, staying positive can sometimes be hard. There are hundreds of little things, from a downbeat comment from a coworker to a snippet of bad news on TV, that can add up during the day to bring us down.

My solution to combat this is to have just as many little reminders of happiness and positivity around! Big successes and messages are great, but little things add up too.

One little reminder I have is my Happy Cup. I received this mug from a relative as a Christmas gift last year, and I’ve used it for my morning tea every day since! It has a cute happy face on the front, with a huge grin celebrating a new morning.

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It also says “be happy” on the inside rim so I see the message every time I take a sip.

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Another little reminder are my lovebirds. I found these cute little pink birds at a thrift store toy bin for 10 cents. They’re hanging on one of my storage boxes on my bookshelf, where I pass by a hundred times a day. They remind me that there is lots of love in the world!

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And above my computer monitor I’ve taped this VICTORY sign. It’s from the game Overwatch, which I enjoy playing. Every time I sit at my computer I see this message of success and triumph urging me to do my best!

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I have plans to make more little signs with positive messages to tape around the house. The perfect home would be a haven of happy words, images, and ideas, drowning out the drone of negativity that creeps around us.

Do you have any little reminders of happiness that you like to keep around? I love hearing new ideas. πŸ™‚


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