Chicken Problems and Other Wildlife Concerns


Last week, I came home and found two chickens in my yard.

Now just so we’re clear, I don’t own chickens and I don’t live on a farm. I don’t know why they showed up or where they came from.

Our subdivision is a nice, peaceful place that was fairly quiet until a few days ago when these chickens began crowing in MY BACKYARD at 4AM IN THE MORNING!

There is no snooze button for that wake-up call, my friend.

So far, all of our attempts to shoo them away have failed. They tried our neighbor’s backyard for a few days, but decided to come back. They have moved in a made a nest.

Perhaps they considered that with five kids, a cat and a dog they wouldn’t be noticed? And for the most part, they’re not…until 4AM IN THE MORNING!

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A couple of weeks before the chickens showed up, two ducks strolled into our driveway.

Why is my home becoming wildlife’s choice for refuge?

My neighbor called animal control about the ducks and asked what could be done.

The lady at animal control asked her how old the ducks are. (You may be wondering, as I was, how one can possibly determine the age of ducks? Glad you asked.)

My neighbor replied that the ducks don’t have any feathers. To which the animal control lady decisively said, “They’re teenagers.”

I’d never heard of teenage ducks, but I guess it makes sense. She continued to say that teenage ducks behave very similarly to teenage youth.


She surmised that these ducks were mostly likely asserting their independence from their mom and taking a whimsical adventure for the afternoon. They had probably wandered further than anticipated and just needed to be walked home and reunited with their mom.

But where is that? They must’ve found their way home because they haven’t come back.

I digress. Back to the chickens.

This morning I called animal control to see what my options are.



She explained that feral chickens are a big problem here. I told her I’m aware of that – my kids’ school has close to fifty chickens roaming around campus. But this is different.

This is my not-so-very-big BACKYARD!

Sleep-deprived and desperate, I pleaded with her, “What can we do?”

She responded that legally she cannot give me advice or options, but the Humane Society will take them for free with no questions asked if I bring them in.

Incredulous and for the sake of clarity, I asked, “So what you’re saying is that I’m supposed to CHASE these chickens down, CATCH these chickens, with their CLAWS and BEAKS and COMBS and WATTLES, and then I’m supposed to figure out how to PUT these chickens in my MINIVAN and DRIVE them across town to you?”


Did I forget to mention that this conversation came on the heels of my son announcing to me that he was going to SWIM WITH SHARKS this afternoon and he’d see me later.

Apparently, there’s some guy on the North Shore that will take you on his boat and let you swim with sharks…WITHOUT A CAGE!

Really? What parenting book prepares us for this stuff? 

Welcome to my world. This explains my ongoing battle with gray hair and why I always have a secret stash of candy in my bedside table.

Not sure what we’re going to do about the chickens.

Any humane ideas we should consider?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” Psalm 24:1





What Really Matters to Our Kids

I have a couple of confessions to make. Here it goes. Deep breath. First, my kids ate cereal for dinner twice this week…. TWICE! And, we had Taco Bell another night. Secondly, as a mom, I’ve come to realize I can’t do it all. Honestly, I’ve tried and failed miserably.

Moms, would you agree that some days we’re just trying to hold the family together? Helping kids with homework, driving the nightly Uber to sports practices, breaking up fights, keeping up with laundry, cooking meals, entertaining toddlers and scouring the house searching for enough popsicle sticks for your child’s project that happens to be due the next day. (Yes, with just days left in the school year, this did happen.)

For years as a mom, I wavered between exhaustion and guilt, striving to do it all so I could at least have the appearance of having it all together (Key word: appearance). Let me be honest with you, that level of perfection is a sham.  It’s unattainable. Exhausting. And not really that important.

Not once, have my kids complained that the house wasn’t vacuumed or the dishes sat in the sink overnight. They don’t complain about the dusting of beach sand covering my floors either (although, that one really bothers me). I’ve come to be happy with a moderately clean house, unimpressive meals and a philosophy of, “If you want a drink, wash your own cup.”

My conclusion after many years of conversations with countless moms, we’re too hard on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, mamas! Don’t cower in shame, carry condemnation or relentlessly compare yourself to other moms.

If we’re to be really truthful, most of the expectations are those we place on ourselves. We compare ourselves to an ideal picture of motherhood that is unattainable for anyone to achieve.

Years ago, I read a precious devotional by Ruth Bell Graham and her daughter, Gigi, titled Mothers Together. In this devotional, Gigi asked one of her sons what a home was and how he would describe it.

His response was perfect,

“Home is a place where you come in out of the rain.”


I sincerely believe if we do that, we win.

If we create a safe place, rich in love, laughter and affirmation, our kids will grow up to be just fine.

If we give them a refuge to come to when they encounter life’s storms, they will know the importance of providing love and comfort to others.

If we provide them with a place to talk, be themselves and even cry sometimes, they will learn the value of authenticity and respect.

Motherhood – it’s difficult, heart-wrenching, tearful, messy, joy-filled and beautiful. It gives us the opportunity to shape a little heart. To etch God’s loving truth forever into their souls. And, like wet cement it will solidify over time, providing them with a solid foundation on which they can build their lives.

Dear mother, you are enough. Enter the abundance of God’s grace.

Don’t listen to the voices nagging you, “do better” or “try harder”. That’s not God’s voice speaking to you. Here are the words Jesus speaks to his children, to YOU,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Jesus doesn’t place an endless list of expectation on moms. There’s not a “prescription” to follow for creating a well-rounded child. There isn’t a “Christian Mom” to-do list for you to earn an Awesome Mom award.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Throughout scripture, we see Jesus taking away regulations and requirements. He’s the best at reminding us to pare our lives down and focus on the essentials, the non-negotiables.

Jesus’ yoke is not a crushing burden. It’s not an extensive to-do list. It’s an invitation to love Him, trust Him and extend that love to others. As mothers, that’s our most important  task: to model for our children a loving, life-giving relationship with God that makes Jesus attractive to them.

As Elisabeth Elliot once said,

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” 

Trust for God’s grace and goodness to flow out of your incompleteness today. You got this. You are enough, because He is more than enough.

Family-friendly Vacation in Waikiki, Hawaii

Aloha! You’ve finally saved enough money to fly the ohana to Hawaii for vacation. What do you do now? Where should you stay? Can you afford it? Is it kid-friendly?

With gorgeous beaches, stunning sunsets, gentle trade winds, exotic nature trails and educational cultural attractions, Hawaii is unique and unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s also a wonderful place for families to enjoy a great vacation without breaking the bank, starving your kids for the week, sleeping in your rental car or depleting your retirement account.

We’ve raised our five kids on Oahu and when we’re able to pull away from work, school and sports (and eat somewhere other than Taco Bell or Costco pizza), here are some of the places you’ll find us.

Note: this is NOT the Condé Nast travel guide, but simply my biased, kid-friendly, on-a-budget recommendations to experiencing an incredible time while in Hawaii nei.

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Where to stay 

Oahu means the gathering place and is the hub of activity in Hawaii. It’s home to the state’s capital, Honolulu, and the majority of the state’s population. If you enjoy an active vacation, don’t mind a lot of people and desire a central location with easy access to the rest of the island’s attractions, the world-renown Waikiki beach is a great choice. If you’re wanting to stay on another island or in a different part of Oahu, read this.

My personal preference for family friendly hotels in Waikiki are the Sheraton Waikiki and the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Both are beach front properties with super kid-friendly pool areas. They also have many amenities on-site for families and their prime locations are short walks to other popular Waikiki attractions.

Kid-friendly beaches 

  1. Waikiki is one of the safer beach areas on Oahu. Its surf is consistently gentle and conducive for swimming, learning to surf and for young children to splash around. The lifeguards are well-trained in water safety and are on duty all day, every day.
  2. Ala Moana beach park. If you prefer no waves at all, head to Ala Moana Beach Park on the Ewa side (west end) of Waikiki. This is where you’ll find many of Honolulu’s young families spending the day at the beach, barbecuing, making sand castles and floating in the water on air mattresses.

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Family Hikes

  1. Diamond Head. Diamond Head crater sits prominently on the eastern end of Waikiki. Hawaii’s most familiar landmark, Diamond Head is known for its historic hiking trail that was built as part of Hawaii’s coastal defense system in the early 1900’s. It’s a short (.8 mile each way), steep hike, but not too overwhelming for a young family. (I think my youngest was about 5 when she first climbed Diamond Head.) Your hard work and sweat will pay off, though, as the views at the top provide you with stunning pictures of Waikiki and the southern shoreline.
  2. Manoa Falls. My kids love this short hike through the shaded, bamboo forest of Manoa Falls. It’s short (1.6 miles roundtrip) and not too steep, ending at the beautiful 100ft Manoa Falls. Some scenes from Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed here and although you’re just a short drive from Waikiki, you really feel like you’re in the middle of dense jungle. Wear junk shoes and clothes as the trail can get really muddy and bring mosquito repellant or you will be eaten by bugs.

Things to do

The great thing about vacationing in Hawaii is that all the beaches are public and free! If you’re looking for other activities for your family, here are some options near Waikiki.

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  1. Honolulu Zoo. The zoo is located on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. It’s well-shaded, flat with open areas for kids to run and play. Perfect way to spend a couple of hours and enjoy a relaxing morning. They have all the major “zoo animals” and a cute petting zoo.
  2. Waikiki Aquarium. Located across the street from the zoo, this is a nicely maintained aquarium with a variety of marine life. It’s not very big, but young kids will think it’s huge and filled with wonder.
  3. Surfing lessons. Waikiki is the perfect spot to try surfing. The waves are gentle and most of the people in the water are children and beginner surfers, so there’s a lot of room for trial and error. This is where we brought our kids to learn to surf. You can easily rent boards and take lessons right on the beach, which removes the hassle of having to transport surfboards in your rental car.
  4. Pearl Harbor. Okay, this spot isn’t in Waikiki, but I can’t leave it out. The Pearl Harbor Memorial is a sobering tribute to honor and memorialize our World War II servicemen. The USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and adjacent to it, the Battleship Missouri signifies the end of World War II. Recently renovated, it’s family friendly, educational and interactive for kids.

Places to eat

Cheap Eats

  1. Marukame Udon. If you make Yelp’s top 100 restaurants nationwide, you have to be worth checking out. My kids love this place. It’s buffet style, with the line consistently out the door. But it moves fast and you can watch them make the udon noodles while you wait. A bowl of udon for under $5.
  2. Ono Seafood. Another restaurant that has made Yelp’s top 100 restaurants. If you’re adventurous and like seafood, you’ll appreciate this little hole-in-the-wall where you can try a poke (po-kay) bowl – a local favorite. If your kids are picky, Taco Bell is one block away.
  3. Hi Steaks. Not to be confused with the uber-pricey, fancy Hy’s Steak House, this walk-up is in Food Pantry (Waikiki’s local grocery store). They serve yummy steak plate lunches. My recommendation is to get it to-go and eat it on the beach or by your hotel pool.
  4. Musubi Cafe Iyasume. Musubi is a popular snack in Hawaii. It consists of a block of rice and a piece of meat (usually fried spam) wrapped in seafood. Musubis are cheap and a perfect grab and go mid-afternoon bite to eat. Usually, we pick up a musubi at 7-11 (yes, they have surprisingly good musubis), but this little place in Waikiki is my kids’ favorite.
  5. Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. Teddy’s is one of our favorites. In fact, our family thinks they’re some of the best burgers we’ve had anywhere. They have many locations all around the island to choose from. Their shakes, too, are really yummy.
  6. Pai’s Deli. We stumbled onto this little deli during a staycation in Waikiki. We were hungry, but didn’t want to change out of our beach clothes to sit in a restaurant. Just steps away from the beach, you can pick up a healthy meal without having to even dust the sand off your feet.

A little nicer, but still good for families…

  1. Duke’s. Named in honor of Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer from Hawaii who is credited with popularizing modern surfing, Duke’s is right on the beach in the heart of Waikiki. Their prices are mid-range for steak and seafood. If you don’t have a reservation and want a more casual lunch or dinner, you can sit on the lanai and order from a limited, less expensive menu. A trip to Duke’s wouldn’t be complete without ordering their Hula Pie (ice-cream, chocolate and everything amazing).
  2. Doraku. Founded by the son of the Benihana’s restauranteur, Doraku is our go-to place for sushi and Japanese food in Waikiki.
  3. Side Street Inn. One of our favorite restaurants, Side Street Inn on the Strip is where we often bring out of town guests. They serve large portions, family style and it’s always a hit.

Don’t forget coffee and dessert!

  1. Island Vintage Coffee. I’m typically a Starbucks girl, but Island Vintage is really good, serving 100% kona coffee. They have an Island latte that is amazing.
  2. Leonard’s. Leonard’s bakery has been around for decades and is known for their malasadas, which are Portuguese doughnuts without the hole. How can you not go wrong with a ball of dough, deep-fried and rolled in lots of sugar?
  3. Waiola Shave Ice. Waiola’s opened decades ago and operated out of a little mom & pop grocery mart. They now have a few locations. Always a popular spot for shave ice, they serve super-fine ice with lots of flavor choices.

This is just a tiny sliver of things to do and see in Waikiki. With so many great things to do and experience, I couldn’t possibly fit them all in one post. Here are a some more of our favorites.

How about you? What are your family-favorite, budget-friendly things to do in Hawaii?