Friday, August 23, 2013

We've got lots of bugs and critters

We found a little snake. It was remarkably small.

The girl was eager to hold it, but it was too fast and got away from her. I love that she's not afraid of crawlies.

A few weeks ago, the kids found a couple of hornworms in the garden. They decided that they wanted to see what type of moth they would turn into, so they went into the bug aquarium with a piece of a tomato plant. The tomato plant didn't last long, and before we knew it we were having to add ever larger pieces daily. Eventually, one of the hornworms (which was absolutely enormous), started acting weird. That's when we learned that hornworms want to burrow underground to pupate. We added a few inches of soil to the bug aquarium, and it dug right in. The other one followed a day or two later, but never got to the impressive size of the first one.

Today we decided to see what was going on in there. It has been a few weeks since they went underground, and we weren't sure if they were still alive. This is what we found.

They are pretty funny creatures, and caused lots of giggles. When disturbed, they thrash and wiggle, much like they do in their larval stage, but much weirder since they look like an alien movie prop. The smaller one was especially active and made the kids a little nervous. Didn't stop the girl from wanting to hold them.

The boy spent a lot of time in his butterfly and moth guide this afternoon, and learned that these most likely aren't tomato hornworms like we originally thought, but tobacco hornworms. They look nearly identical in their larval stage, but we'll know for sure once they emerge.

Sometimes we even eat butterflies :)
This is our snack rendition of monarchs stopping to eat and rest on some butterfly bush blossoms.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

State Fair

 We find butterflies wherever we go!

The boy was thrilled to finally see a monarch this year

This rooster should be named Mozart. I'm pretty sure he wasn't.
First roller coaster! 

 The girl was super nervous, but decided to give it a try as long as the boy would come with her.

 Then, she wanted to have a ride that she knew she'd like.

A good way to use up the last ride tickets

We are all exhausted after a long day of walking in the sun, but it was a great day with lots of firsts and lots of smiles.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lincoln likes to perch on things

Lincoln likes to perch on things

It was cute until she discovered she could get over the fence and taste the neighbor's bugs. She's thoughtful, and taught Mary how to fly over the fence too. Or, maybe Mary is just a follower. They rejected my suggestion to keep the foraging to our side of the fence, so things had to get serious. They are pretty easy to catch, and stay away from the road (so far), but 3 times in one evening gets old. Lincoln and Mary are now the slightly confused owners of clipped wing feathers, and the news is spreading around the flock like nobody's business.
Added to the To Do list: Side yard fence extension.

Blooms and Butterflies

The boy walked around the conservatory for over a half hour with this Postman butterfly happily crawling around his forehead.

Blue Morpho butterflies aren't usually willing to be held, but the girl tried and tried until finally one agreed. They are really social and funny, flying around playing tag with each other.

I think this one is the Doris Longwing Red, there were tons of them flying around.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


 We found a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on our carrots and put it into our bug jar to observe it. It was perfect timing! It quickly settled in and formed a chrysalis. As soon as it hatched, we gently took it out of the bug jar and watched as it dried it's wings and got its bearings. It lingered for quite a while, and we were able to take pictures and compare it to the pictures in our books.
There's been lots of reading about butterflies...

 And being butterflies...

And, more Swallowtails.
This one is a Giant Swallowtail, and it was found on our echinacea. It only spent a few minutes in the bug jar, just long enough for some photos and observation. The kids are very committed to not damaging our local butterfly population, and have been working on grand plans for a separate butterfly garden that's out of the area that the chickens forage in. 

This one hasn't been identified yet, but prompted at least two hours of scouring the identification guides, and some pretty impressive reading. It was in pretty bad shape when it was found.

We recently visited COSI for a Spiderman photo event, and couldn't leave without taking a few photos of the recycled butterfly sculptures of Michelle Stitzlein.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Haven't done this in a while...

A long day running around requires lots of snacks.
-Zucchini/banana bread
-Boiled egg
-Blueberry fruit strip
-Raw energy bar squares
-Organic corn chips
-Strawberry/banana smoothie with homemade coconut milk
-Peanuts and raisins with a chocolate lego (I need to work on getting the air bubbles out better)

The chocolate lego was the hit of the party, obviously. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rainy day rainbows

After an extraordinarily hot and sunny morning, the afternoon proved quite wet. It worked out perfectly since our morning plans had us running around outside, and after that we were ready for a quiet and relaxing indoor activity. I came across this rainbow stained glass window project last night, and thought it would be perfect for our front door. We used liquid watercolor, white crayons, and an all-purpose paper roll. I would have preferred a slightly sturdier paper, as this one wanted to warp a bit with the watercolor. But, since it doesn't effect the finished product too much, we went ahead and used it.

It's not very visible in the photos, but the white crayon repelled the watercolor nicely, and makes for a very striking effect with the sun shining through. The panels with random scribbles and geometric designs were the most effective. We have a few with drawings of flowers and butterflies that are a little more difficult to make out. The kids are pleased with their addition to our door, and have already decided that the next time we do this project, we'll use multiple colors on each panel, and be more random with the crayon. Oh, and don't forget the "peek hole"!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easy lunchbox lunches

-Fruit sauce
-Boiled egg
-Rice crackers
-Tuna (Wild Planet tuna has BPA-free cans!)

This is the boy's new favorite lunch.

-Wellshire turkey dog on Udi's bun
-Clementine half
-Dates (for the boy), Prunes (for the girl)
-Tiny ketchup

I like packing into the Easy Lunchboxes, at first they seemed to be an awkward shape, but they actually fit our needs well. The one-piece design is convenient, and the kids can open them on their own. My only complaint is that the lid isn't super snug. I wouldn't be able to pack anything wet like applesauce, and cut fruit would leak juice into their bag. I got these from a friend who wasn't using them, but I would probably buy these if I needed to replace our current supply of lunch containers (and didn't want to spring for the Planet Box).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lunch Love

-Boiled egg half
-Cherry tomato heart
-Sunbutter and jelly on Rudi's gf bread with hearts cut from a blueberry fruit strip
-Chocolate hearts
-Smoothie with coconut milk, banana, strawberry, almonds.
-Giant heart stickers that I've been saving for so long

I wish I'd been able to arrange to come to school for lunch tomorrow so that I could be there when they open these. Even though neither one is eating tomatoes right now, and the girl is on an egg strike, I think this will be a fun lunch for them. The fruit strip hearts are glued to the bread with little dots of sunbutter so they won't fly around the container, and they each have a tiny marshmallow hidden inside one of their chocolate hearts.
The eggs didn't turn out very well, I think they were a little too fresh and a little too small to fill out the mold all the way. There is such a fine line with those. Store-bought eggs tend to be too big, but our eggs generally fit them pretty well. But, with the recent cold weather, the chickens aren't wanting to go out to play quite as much and their eggs are smaller. The smoothies are also different since we ran out of cashews. I'm planning a bulk order though, and should be getting enough to last through the end of school. I can't wait to make cashew butter with the kids!
The girl has been asking me to make chocolate hearts for weeks, so she'll especially appreciate those. They are so simple to make. I melted about 1/4 cup of Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips with about 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil, and poured into a silicone mold. If I'd had more time I would have filled them with peanut butter, yum!

Friday, February 8, 2013

our week in pictures

enjoying the waves

soggy smiles

juggling sticks

faster than a speedy shutter

Four-way air hockey!?

figuring it out

pirate kitty