Slightly Bird-Brained

How did you get my daddy to go to sleep when he was little?” asked my young granddaughter.  “Oh, dear one, let me tell you a story. . .”  And my mind wandered back many years, to The Trumpet of the Swan, and how Louis was determined to become a trumpeter.  Our boys loved the story, especially since their daddy played the trumpet.  They were almost sad when, after many days of reading, we finally completed the book.  Even today when they hear, “Day is done, gone the sun…,” they immediately think of Louis the Swan.  

Slightly Bird-Brained

Growing up in North Dakota and Iowa should have caused me to be a much heartier person. It didn’t.  Each winter I endured the blizzards and ice storms while counting the days until once again a crocus or daffodil would peak through and announce that color was returning to my world.  Oh, what joy when the first robin was spotted!  When at last the sweet chirping of birds could be heard, I knew that warmth was returning as well.

The Byrne childhood home

There was, however, an unfortunate downside to my fondness for the returning bird population.  My dear mother was concerned that should there not be sufficient seeds, worms, etc. available upon their immediate return, I should begin taking out all leftover bread after supper each evening. This should be torn up into teensy little bits and distributed around the yard, particularly under the trees. We had trees everywhere! At first I didn’t mind.  Then after about two days my teensy bits became “bits”, then “chunks”, and soon I just tore the pieces of bread in half, figuring those old birds could figure it out for themselves.

My next chore was to clean out the birdbath. This not only meant making sure that the water in it didn’t get a layer of ice so the birdies couldn’t bathe (heaven forbid we have dirty birdies!), but I was to keep the basin and water clean. Hauling water in my little bucket took a lot of time. If you’ve ever had a birdbath you know how gross cleaning one can be, if not, just don’t ask.

Earlier I mentioned something about not being hearty. That also involves a real distaste for any type of bug or creepy crawly. Therefore, my last spring bird job caused me a great deal of anxiety.  I was to  “till” a small area in our garden since the ground was still quite hard from being frozen all winter. This was to allow the birds to peck more easily for worms. You can’t imagine my delight at unearthing one while digging! Yet even though I may have done my chores slightly bird-brained, our yard always abounded with birds of every color and species. For this I am eternally grateful!

How thankful I am to now be living in a year-round warm climate.  I don’t tear up bread, don’t own a birdbath, and will never dig for worms! But I still love listening to sweet chirping, watching nests be built, and catching a glimpse of a cardinal with its mate on our back fence.

I think it’s time to dust off  The Trumpet of the Swan, and curl up on the couch with all of my dear grandchildren.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of daddies even wanted to take a turn at reading a chapter or two aloud.  And maybe when we finish the book, PopPop may surprise them with a little “Louis” song of his own!!

“All is well, safely rest. . . God is nigh.”



Mary Byrne Kline

Mary Byrne Kline . aka Button







Join us as we create Heritage 2 Legacy memories
through the delight of a children’s book.



Daddy’s Ice Rink


Imagine my joy when I first saw the book Testing the Ice.  I could hardly wait to read it. Here’s a dad surrounded by a bunch of kids excitedly running to ice skate.  So many memories came flooding back as I read this amazing account of Jackie Robinson’s life.  In his tender caring for his children and their friends, I recalled my own dad wiping away many tears as we kids would fall while ice skating or get so cold our toes felt frozen.

Funny how all this reminiscing about ice has made me feel all warm inside.  Good memories do that.

I can’t wait to read Testing the Ice with my grandchildren and then share my own heritage moment. Perhaps you have a winter story that you can share. Maybe you made a snowman, went sledding, or built a snow fort.  Tell your story (write it down) – I guarantee you’ll be glad you went to the effort of moving from Heritage 2 Legacy (more information).

Daddy’s Ice Rink

When I was a little girl, freezing cold winter days meant only one thing – FUN!  Bundled up in pants, sweaters, jackets, scarves, mittens, and hats, we headed outdoors with one purpose.  Ice skating.  My dad was right out there with us in his winter cap that we all thought looked so silly.  Well, this is a story about that hat.  Hanging in our family room are two precious memories: my dad’s winter cap with fold-down ear flaps and my childhood ice skates.  Since our dad played hockey for the University of North Dakota, learning to ice skate came as natural to me and my sisters as walking.

Every winter your great-grandfather flooded our back yard and created a magnificent neighborhood ice rink.  It was glorious!  After a snowfall, he’d shovel the snow along the side to create a nice bank for us to slide into.  We would play fox and geese, race, practice figure eights,  and even master skating backwards.  But I never could skate as fast as my dad.  He skillfully turned and zipped around while the ear flaps on his cap just bounced.  He taught us and all the neighborhood kids how to skate.

How I wish he was here to teach you to skate . . .but you all can have fun wearing his cap!

Love, Button



Giblets and Sugar Cubes

510q6lxovwl-_sx356_bo1204203200_As I read Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin [review] I was reminded of a year when my family had a houseful of guests for Thanksgiving.  My cousins and I still talk and laugh about that gravy! It was also the year that my dear momma gave me some freedom in the kitchen to make a recipe feel pretty special to me.  As you read, I hope that you will remember some interesting times your family has shared during Thanksgiving, and be inspired to write your own . . .

Mary Byrne Kline
aka “Button”

Heritage 2 Legacy

a Chasing Fireflies’ storytelling project

Giblets and Sugar Cubes


With my little apron tied around me, I climbed up on the kitchen chair and began to measure flour in the large crock bowl.  Helping momma bake was one of my favorite things to do and I never tired of trying new recipes with her.

The year I was 9 at Thanksgiving, our Aunt, Uncle, and cousins were coming from Illinois so we had a  lot of baking to do.  This was the first year that momma was letting me  make a pumpkin pie all by myself – start to finish.  After pouring it into my crust, I used a turkey cookie cutter and with a little extra pie crust placed a little turkey in the center of my pie.


Momma’s & my childhood apron…

Thanksgiving Day our home was filled with laughter, love, and a great amount of food.  As we began eating, we kids noticed something rather unusual. My mom’s gravy had strange lumps in it. We didn’t know what they were. Our parents explained what “giblets” were and we couldn’t pick them out of our gravy fast enough! It was pretty comical to see seven kids reaching for the fancy little sugar cubes Mom had placed on the table for coffee. Anything to get the “giblet” taste out of our mouths! Had it not been Thanksgiving Day we might have all been in trouble.  I remember being so proud when everyone “gobbled” down my turkey pumpkin pie.

This year I’ll again be making many pies, and yes, my pumpkin pie will have a turkey on top.  But I will not put giblets in my gravy.

Love, Button



Love, “Button” (1/10)

Sunday afternooPicture-14-18pywvdn provided an opportunity for me to read, That Book Woman by Heather Henson and David Small to some of my grandchildren.   As I turned the pages, I found myself in That Book Woman, in the boy’s sister, Lark.  He says, “Lark plays teacher,” which I always did. And one illustration has Lark sitting up in a tree reading, which I loved doing as a kid!

In the book The Boy who was Raised by Librarians, I can’t help but think that Melvin may have gone to the very same library I had gone to a long, long time ago.  Leeola looked awfully familiar . . .

See a video reading of That Book Woman below, if you would like to know more about this book.

I found myself inspired to share a story of my own, so:

Heritage 2 Legacy

a Fireflies’ storytelling project

My “Leeola’s” Lovely Lesson

Dad and Mom’s instructions were clear.  “After school walk to the library, it’s only a block from your new school.  Some friends are picking up several kids in our neighborhood about 4:00.  Just keep an eye out, okay?”  I agreed.

I couldn’t wait for school to be out.  The library was so much bigger than the one where we used to live.  When I walked in, my heart began to race.  My eyes could hardly take it in.  What a  glorious sight.  The smell of freshly waxed wooden floors just added to my joy.  I slowly made my way to the desk where an elderly lady with springy gray hair sat reading.  She peered down at me.  “May I help you?”  I asked where the children’s books were.  She slid the glasses off her nose, stood and with a twinkle in her eye whispered, “How about if I show you?”  We came to a large paneled room.  I’d never seen so many books.  Finding a spot on the carpet where the sun was streaming in, I curled up with Nancy Drew and was soon deep in an adventure.

After some time, the library lady came in, startling me.  “Oh, you’re still here,” she said, “I was just locking up.”

Once again my heart began to race, only this time in panic.  I knew I’d gotten lost in reading and missed my ride home.  I began to cry.

“Why, whatever is the matter , child?”  she gently asked me. As I poured out my woeful mistake between sobs, she just shook her head, saying, “Oh dear, not to worry, it’s going to be fine.”  Watching her springy gray curls bouncing as she spoke, I somehow knew I could believe her.  She took my hand and marched me to the front desk where we called my parents.  The library lady said she’d wait on the front steps with me until they arrived.

While we waited she talked.  She told me that she often got so absorbed in a book that she lost track of time too; and we smiled.  She said she’d been at the library so long she’d probably read most of the books inside; and FullSizeRender (1)we laughed.  Then she asked me if I had my own library at home.  She explained that it was easy to begin one; just start collecting your favorite books, arrange them on a shelf, take care of them, and keep adding to them.  She said everyone should have their own personal library.  I was fascinated.

Over the next years, I spent a lot of time in that library. And had many special visits with that dear library lady.  Because of her I went home that night, gathered up my few books and began my own personal library. I still have those books.  They are some of my most precious possessions.

Love, Button


Mary Byrne Kline Otherwise known as “Button” to her grandchildren.








Create a Storytelling Legacy

Now it’s your turn.  If you are a grandparent, we invite you to share a memory and begin your own storytelling legacy!   If you have a special someone in your family that you want to encourage to become a legacy storyteller, download this FLYER, and invite them to join us on our storytelling adventure.


Button reading to her children on any given Sunday afternoon…

Here are some prompts that go along with this month’s theme.   Read one of the books on our BOOK LIST and then think about a story from your past that you can write down and/or record for this year’s Chasing Fireflies Storytelling Classic.     These questions will help you get started:

  • What is a favorite book you remember from your childhood?
  • Did you have someone special read to you as a child?
  • Have you ever found a book that reminded you of yourself?  Or someone you knew?
  • When you read a book about a library or librarian, does a special place come to mind?  Do you have a picture of that library or special reading place?  Tell about what made that building so special in your life? [think: your 5 senses]

Be sure to let us know if you are joining us.  We are creating a closed FB group for all family storytellers, so that we may encourage and communicate more personally with each of you.  Simply send an email to and request to be included in future emails concerning this project.  We will also tell you how to join our closed FB group so that you can join in on the discussions and fun with Gil Moegerle, Mary Byrne Kline, and Deni Corbett.

The Book Woman by Heather Henson