Catterpillars, chrysalis, butterfly… Oh, my!

I can’t believe it’s mid-October! We spent the end of August and most of September raising some monarch caterpillars, which means that the butterflies we released will migrate from Toledo all the way down to Mexico (not sure where exactly) where they will hibernate for the winter. I have always loved butterflies, but this process has fascinated me and I cannot help but stand in awe at our awesome Creator.

It takes, apparently 4 or 5 generations to reach Toledo from Mexico, first of all. And the last generation will live through the winter because they don’t die until after they mate/lay eggs (for the lady monarchs, that is).

Each caterpillar is born with 2 sets of DNA… One for its time as a caterpillar/chrysalis, and one for its time as a butterfly. Say what!?

Check out our beauties.

Our first two we named Max and Mary. Sadly, Mary died about two days before Max turned into a chrysalis. This process makes the caterpillars extremely delicate and vulnerable, but it was still sad. The children buried her in our backyard and Ethan said a very sweet prayer (he thanked God for the friends who gave her to us, for the time we got to spend with her, and that we’ll see her in heaven where she is sure to be a beautiful butterfly, even though she didn’t make it to butterfly status in this life.)

I have missed the transformation process for all our caterpillars, because they hang upside-down for almost a whole day, then we’ve always had to go somewhere and the caterpillar turned into a chrysalis by the time we got back from wherever.

The chrysalis turned black and you can see the monarch wings through the chrysalis the day the butterfly will emerge.

Again, I have missed all emergings because it happens in about 5 minutes. Literally, I was checking every 5 to 10 minutes and the first time he was in his chrysalis, the next time he was out. And Max was a he…

After Max, our friend with milkweed (who gave us Max and Mary) asked if we wanted any more to make up for the loss of Mary. So we took home Sam, Alice, and Mary II. Thankfully, all three reached butterfly status.

Sam turned out to be Samantha, Alice turned out to be an Alex, and despite our being prepared for Mary II to turn out to be Mario, she ended up being able to keep the name Mary II.

Phoebe keeps asking me “Where ‘fly-fly’ go?” And I tell her they flew away to Mexico. And she nods like she understands. Little ones understsnd much more than we give them credit for, I’m sure.

Next year, my milkweed-owning friend and I plan on buying a kit to actually tag and track some monarchs, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Except for the poop. As a mom of lots of littles, you’d think I would be used to lots of poop. But caterpillars poop so much more than anyone would ever expect. That is the takeaway lesson from this endeavour. Caterpillars poop a lot.

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Announcement

Hey! I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet! We’ve just had *a lot* going on this past month, and I figured now is a good time to update you all on some of it.

For starters, potty training has come to a screeching halt. If Phoebe has no pants or underwear on, she uses the potty no problem. But by putting training pants (thick underwear, not pull-up diapers), she forgets she’s not wearing a diaper… And with school and other things going on, I don’t have the time or energy to spend with her on it.

However, my usual reason for potty training my second-youngest has come up again, and we are overjoyed. (So I will be working on it more diligently, probably during Christmas break.

For those of you who need a little assistsnce deciphering a sonogram, allow me to hilight key points. At this point in the pregnancy (9 weeks), the baby looks like a gummy bear… Thick abdomen and head, short and stubby arms and legs. But it is important to note that all body parts are there.

The first thing the ultrasound tech said was that there is only one baby in there… Not that I have a family history of twins, but I suppose that’s a relief at this stage in the game. One baby adds chaos to our routine… I shudder to think of what two babies would do!

We have never had more than two children in diapers at a time, and would like to continue that trend… Especially considering this will be our longest gap between babies; Ezekiel will be a nearly-ancient 18 months when this baby is due to arrive. Which, coincidently, is a few days after Ethan’s 8th birthday… 7 babies in 8 years.

Ethan says he only wants to share his birthday if it’s a brother. Unfortunately, none of us has any say in that matter. Except I may choose his birthday for simplicity’s sake and induce again.

I have never had two boys back-to-back, but I have also never had a girl in the spring. Either gender will offset our equilibrium, so it matters to me only so I know which room to make space in and which set of newborn clothes to get out of storage.

I am currently 10 weeks pregnant (a pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks) and that means my favorite pin is especially relevant right now. This pin shows the actual size of a baby’s feet when he or she is just 10 weeks. How tiny, yet beautifully formed! How awesome is our Creator!

My favorite Psalm:

Psalm 139

1

O LORD, you have searched me and known me
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say,”Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, andlead me in the way everlasting!

To view or not to view…

First off, sorry I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve had a lot going on, which I may or may not post about at a later date. And it seems I have a draft of a blog post that somehow never got published. Whoops.

More time-sensitive right now is the solar eclipse coming up… Maybe you’ve heard about it?

Monday, August 21 (my mama’s birthday) the United States will be directly on the path of a solar eclipse. Sadly, not Toledo, where I am, but it should still be a pretty cool experience. (FYI, Toledo is on the path of totality for a solar eclipse in 13 years… I hope to be around to see that one!)

First, a warning:

IT IS NOT SAFE TO VIEW A SOLAR ECLIPSE WITHOUT SPECIALLY DESIGNED GLASSES

That said, there is a lot of debate going on about if even that is safe.

First of all, there has been word that there are many scams going around… People/stores selling “solar eclipse glasses” that aren’t actually certified safe.

Rule #1: Only glasses shade 14 or higher are “safe” for viewing the sun.

Welding masks are tinted dark, but 14 is one of the darkest out there and not that common. When I put my solar eclipse glasses on, I can see nothing. Literally, it’s black. If I look at the sun, it’s a small orange circle. Looking at a lightbulb, it looks to be a very faint orange.

I have known about this eclipse for at least a year (I “like” a classical astronomy facebook page, http://www.classicalastronomy.com (that’s the name of the facebook page and a non-facebook website by the same guy…no “http://” needed, but I can’t figure out how to get rid of that in this post), that keeps me up to date on astronomy goings-on) I didn’t order my certified solar eclipse glasses until mid-July, and foolishly didn’t pay attention to Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. My order was set to arrive between August 14 and August 31.

In case you didn’t notice, the eclipse occurs smack dab in the middle ofthat delivery window. How pleased I was to learn the Toledo Lucas County Library had free certified solar eclipse glasses offered on a first-come-first-served basis! I snapped up 8 the day after I got the email about this deal.

Then my order arrived earlier than the scheduled time. August 5, actually. Way earlier than planned. That was a pleasant surprise.

Then Amazon sent me an email. They are unable to verify the certification of my solar eclipse glasses, and they recommend not using them. They even refunded my money, that’s how serious they were.

I had ordered a pack of 25 glasses with the intent to give them to my friends who were late to the game of finding some glasses (in anticipation of places selling out). They were cheaper to buy in bulk than to only order the 8 that my family would need (really not even 8… Zeke is 10 months old and oblivious, and Phoebe, who just turned 2, is probably not going to care either. There is debate how much the 3, 4, 5, and 7 year old care too, but at least the older ones may be able to participate in viewing the event at any rate.) I have still been passing out my non-certified solar eclipse glasses with the disclaimer of their certification status. Some have been willing to risk it, others have not. I totally understand. Personally, we will be using the glasses from the library.

Rule #2: Even with specially designed solar eclipse glasses, it is only safe to view the eclipse for about 3 minutes.

That’s probably lifetime total there, but the chance to view eclipses seem to be pretty rare… Unless you’re one of those people who travel the world to view eclipses. There are actually people who do that. Kind of like tornado chasers, only eclipse chasers.

In Toledo, the eclipse will start at 1:09 pm, peak at about 85% totality at 2:27 and end at 3:48. I Googled it. Timeanddate.com seems like a reliable source…

I have a busy Monday morning, but I plan to join some like-minded people at the Challenger Learning Center in Oregon, Ohio in the afternoon. If the babies are sleeping, that many less children improperly viewingthe eclipse I have to worry about.

Why the big deal about properly viewing the eclipse, you may ask. My husband has admitted to looking at the sun with his bare eyes before, and his vision is 20/20.

Interesting factoid: our retinas cannot feel sunburn. By staring at the sun, even for a brief second, the rods and cones in the back of our eyes that help is see begin to burn from the radiation that pours out of the sun. After a while, these spots can permanently burn a round hold in the retina resulting in partial to goal blindness, similar to macular degeneration (which my grandma has… Basically a permanent blind spot directly in front of you with only the periphery vision in tact). Not fun.

Now… The point of my post. Even though I have solar eclipse glasses that I trust, I don’t fully trust my children to properly use the glasses. What’s a mama to do!?

I have 2 options, and if I can find a box big enough, I’ll try the second option. But first… Paper-plate blinders.

Using a paper plate, ruler, xacto-knife, and scissors, I made these bad boys. I plan on hot-gluing the glasses to the blinded too, but that will be the final step.

There are slits so the glasses fit perfectly in, and I measured with the ruler to make sure the squares I cut out line up with the lenses of the glasses. And I used scissors to cut out the nose/mouth area. All I have left to do is hot-glue the glasses in place.

But first… Some decorating.

Ethan

Naomi

Olivia

Daniel

Naomi, for Phoebe

Ethan, for Ezekiel

And because I couldn’t be left out, even though I’m the least likely to need the blinder…

Naomi, for me

My second option is to design a pinhole camera.

This seems to be the safest first-hand way of viewing the eclipse. My biggest challenge is finding a box big enough. A diaper box is probably big enough, goodness knows we regularly go through diaper boxes, and I used to be a huge supply-hoarder if I thought something could possibly be used in any way as a supply at some point in our homeschooling journey… But my husband has been working on keeping that to a minimum. Because, you know, space issues.

I’d like us to at least make one; I know I won’t be able to make one-per-child, though.

The next most safe way is to view it second-hand, via TV. That just seems not as fun. And not as home-school-sciency.

Thinking Logically…

Homeschooling is a great opportunity, for the parent/teacher, to continue learning. In many cases, I have heard other homeschoolers say they are “reclaiming their education” because at some point in their (usually) public school education, the system failed them.

I don’t know that the system failed me; As and B’s came naturally to me and I did not need to learn how to study until I was in college, and even then I knew how to take tests without cramming for the few days before exam time. I feel that I learned appropriate things, but I’m sure I also heard an extremely biased side of history and science and was exposed to things I’d rather not expose my children to until my husband and I deem them mature enough to handle said things… But that’s not part of this post.

I was a communication major, specifically print journalism, so you could say I have an affinity for words… Particularly the written word. (That’s part of my reason for this blog. I love to write, and I need an audience. Thank you for that, by the way.)

Ever hear the poem “English is Tough Stuff”? It begins “Dearest cresture in creation…” And goes through multiple pages of English words that are either spelled similarly but pronounced differently or spelled differently but pronounced similarly (homophones, basically) and I always get a kick out of it. Thankfully for those of us who need help with the pronunciation… There is a YouTube video of the poem!

I also love to read; I have recently started reading some non-fiction books from tbe library. Not all non-fiction books are pleasure reading, so I can’t make a blanket statement that I enjoy them all (I can’t even say I enjoy all fiction books), but books that tell a story while informing you of something are awesome!


I loved this book so much, I decided to buy it. You can find it here, or just search your local library like I did.
I discovered it on my search last year for a spelling curriculum for my children; this book is the basis for the Language Arts curriculum called “Logic of English,” (ingenious after the title of that book, I know…) and if it weren’t so expensive, I might have bought that… Instead, I decided to spend only $15 for this book (that I had already read thanks to the lovely Lucas County Public Library) I will incorporate the 31 rules of English in the memory work my children will be working on this year (Classical style=lots of memorization!) We are also doing a written spelling curriculum too, but I love the idea of rules…

I love rules, I probably tend towards legalism and I can follow a recipe like nobody’s business but lose my mind when I have to make a substitution. So the fact that there are actually rules to the English language, presented in an understandable way, blows my mind.

It is intensely practical. And, as it involves writing, right up my alley! I think one reason people look at me strange when I say I love writing, is that people associate writing with spelling, and in the English language that can be very confusing. I don’t disagree.

My book is arriving Tuesday. I am so excited, you probably think I’m crazy… All these emotions, over a book. A spelling book, to boot!
We did some math and writing through June and July, but we are officially starting our homeschool “schoolyear” tomorrow. I am so excited!!!

Sadly, I don’t think my kids are as entheusastic (although I will be starting to teach Olivia to read, and she’s excited about that). Ethan is aghast that he has 11 more years of school (or more if he goes to college). He thought one year should be enough… Writing, reading, addition, subtrsction. He’s good to go and ready for the world… Right? I loved school when I was a kid, and I still love it today. I thoroughly enjoy my children and can’t imagine (at this point) sending them away 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week! It is a homeschool goal of mine to instill a love of learning in my kiddos, because learning never ends, even long after “school” has been out.

*** I am overflowing with good news about this book/curriculum all on my own. If I could get to the point of making money from giving endorsements, I’d love that, but I’m a far cry away from there. My opinions are my own and I am not reimbursed for them.***

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears… Oh, my!

Torn clothing is a style I just don’t understand. Maybe I’m showing my age, as the style was just starting to take off when I was graduating (one or two small-ish rips in the thighs of jeans, maybe a hole in the knee… Now entire legs are hanging out and stores are charging an arm and a leg to expose those body parts on clothing items traditionally designed to cover such appendages…

Bedtime Math is a website that sends me daily emails with a story and some follow-up math questions. Yesterday’s story went like this:

Jeans are just blue denim cloth with some pockets sewn on. But at the Kamine Zoo in Japan, animals have helped MAKE jeans. The zoo took big rubber tires — a favorite toy of big animals like lions and bears — and wrapped them up in blue denim. Then they let the animals claw and chew away at them. Tigers tended to work alone; bears worked in pairs, and lions piled on in groups. When they were done chewing and scratching, the zookeepers rescued the torn, shredded cloth and sewed it into jeans. They sold the jeans to make money for the zoo. As you see in this video, the claw marks make you look like you rolled around in the lion’s den yourself!

I mean, really? Not only are you paying more for less clothing, do you really want to look like a lion or tiger attacked your pants!?

I am in favor of supporting the zoo, which it sounds like the proceeds from buying these items goes to support that cause. So I giess there is that, but I’d rather donate in some other way rather than buy clothing I would never wear.

I hear the Toledo Zoo will be having an art fair the weekend of August 5-6 that may feature some art painted by zoo animals during their enrichment times… Although it’s still probably out of my price range, I would much rather own a painting made by an elephant than a pair of jeans torn by a tiger.

PT … Potty Training

I have half-heartedly been potty training Phoebe this summer. Potty training in the past has always been prompted by the strong desire not to have more than 2 babies in diapers at a time. She will be 2 on August 2, so I know I’m a little early, and there is not yet a baby on the way to force the issue, hence the half-hearted attempt.

She is the 5th child (so 4 older brothers and sisters to watch use the potty, plus Mom and Dad), and she has been informing me of her bodily functions before they appear in her diaper, so I figured now is the time. And after she has told me, if I have not done anything about it, she will bring me the diaper wipes and lay down on the kitchen floor for me to change her because “she’s stinky,” rather than walk to her bedroom for the changing table (which she loves because she loves to look out the window and see if the “goggies” (doggies with a “g”) next door are in the yard.

Here’s my method, and it really takes my whole attention for a few days (again, hence the half-hearted attempt, as my attention is split 6 ways):

1. Start the training as soon as the child wakes up. Juice, flavored water, whatever the prefered liquid drink is that will prompt them to pee so much. Normally, these things are not kid-drinks in my house, so they are extra special. And we have a special doggy cup with a straw that is only used by potty trainers.

2. Bottoms off. We have hard wood floors, which are beautiful, and easy for cleaning. Given the amount of liquid being taken in, I can predict a few accidents will happen, so I am always prepared to wash the floor, and spot clean to boot.

3. Frequent “potty breaks.” Whether or not the child acts like they have to “go,” I sit them on the potty every 15 minutes or so.  The first few times may warrant a candy (of their choosing… Gummy bears for Phoebe) just for sitting. Usually the first day or two we’ll watch a movie while sitting on the potty and drinking. If something ends up in the potty, the first time everyone (all kids and I) celebrate by doing a happy potty dance and everyone gets some candy. Subsequent times, only the potty training child gets the reward. I will adjust the frequency of potty breaks once I get a sense of the child’s rhythm. I still remember Ethan had a 20-minute-40-minute cycle. And he has a bladdar I’d steel today.

4. Add clothing of layers slowly once the child recognizes the need to “go to the potty.” This can be the most difficult step, or at least the most time consuming. With Naomi, each layer (training pants, then pants, then switching to panties and not training pants) was a month setback…  

I don’t do diaper-like training pants, but the cloth extra-thick undies. Each child has their own undies, but the training pants are re-used from child to child. They’re not cheap…

That’s about it. I don’t consider night time when considering if a child is fully trained, so nighttime diapers are used for a while, but usually stop around age 3 sometime. 

My family seems to deviate from the standard “girls are easier” myth… Ethan and Daniel were way easier than Naomi and Olivia. Naomi was the first, before Ethan, to sleep through the night without a diaper, but it took her 3 or 4 months to be potty trained to the point of wearing underwear under her pants. Olivia had a different sort of journey, but that is a long story… It took almost a full year for her to be fully potty trained, although she was sleeping through the night with no diaper before she stopped having potty accidents. Ethan and Dan, however, were done in about 2 weeks each (not counting nighttime)

Last night, Phoebe had PJs on and it was almost bedtime. She took her PJ shorts off (by herself) and Olivia told me Phoebe had to go potty. I noticed her droopy diaper, so I took it off, and let her run around a bit before putting a new one on… And she sat and peed on the potty for the first time!!! Completely unprompted by me, as I was putting Zeke to bed and I had no part in it at all! 

This morning, she woke up as I was getting in the shower, and her diaper was dry! She went potty in her potty… And received candy at 7am. Then, she asked for more candy, and I told her she had to pee in the potty to get more cans… So she did it again around 7:15! 

Potty training will now be in full effect since I now know she can do it… So if you stop by my house, don’t be surprised to see a half-naked little lady running around.

Just checking in…

I have lost 1.4 pounds in 1 week. 

I have been drinking my water consistently (remember: half your body weight, in ounces, daily).

I have taken George on 3 20-30 minute walks this week.

I have flubbed the low-carb thing, accidentally. I was eating my chicken-salad lettuce wrap when I saw that chicken salad wasn’t as low carb as I thought. And Tuesday I had a margarita with some friends, thinking tequila is low-carb… which it is, but I didn’t really realize other things that go into a margarita are not so low-carb. But overall, I have been good in this area.

A year and a half ago, when I was doing the low-carb, I snuck a candy bar a week as I drove to my evening Bible study and I still lost 20 pounds in 2 months. Not that I’m okay with messing up as I have, but I am thankful for the opportunity to learn what is low-carb and what is not so that when I do allow myself to eat a carb (chocolate bar… Maybe?) in the future, I can do it intentionally.

I do not want this site to turn into a weight-loss/fitness blog. So I hope to keep my check-ins to a minimum. I’m going to be keeping track for myself, obviously, and I weigh myself weekly, but you all don’t need to have weekly updates. I’m thinking every other week, or maybe monthly. I want to be kept accountable (by the mysterious readership I don’t even know for sure that I have) but that is not my focus on this blog… It’s just a current focus in my life right now.

Someone else is starting to exercise and move around a lot more. Here’s a picture of him unexpectedly coming into the kitchen from the living room. 

He’s doing the aorable “army crawl,” not getting that big belly off the floor, so when I pick him up I can see just how dirty my floor is.