Monday, September 29, 2008
After the allotted time has elapsed, the final molting occurs. The [looks like a caterpillar] wiggles and shakes off the last skin.And from inside that skin appears the chrysalis!It is so much more dramatic than watching the spinning of a cocoon. One moment it's a caterpillar, and the next a chrysalis. Several years ago we actually caught that moment on video, but it's not digital so I can't show you.You can still see the silk strings holding it in place.If you get an early "batch" of caterpillars (say, July), they'll emerge as butterflies in the same season. That happened to some at my sister's house this year. Ours almost always appear later (the final chrysalis formed September 17th), and the chrysalises in real life would overwinter outside with the butterflies emerging in the spring. The Family Butterfly Book states that overwintering species can be kept in the refrigerator and removed about 30 days before it's time for them to emerge. We've had some success with this (and some failure, too).
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The horns emit a real stink (reminding me of marigolds). Apparently this lets birds know that the caterpillars taste bad. One of our books (Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study has a unit on the Black Swallowtail) states that this protection is why they don't hide under leaves.
I've been trying to get a good photo of this phenomenon, but had no luck until today. Becca found a caterpillar outside in the parsley patch (the one that escaped during cleaning?) and we poked it a bit...for educational purposes, of course.
I've posted about soup night here; basically I make two soups and invite the neighbors. We have a casual meal and some easy visiting. Tonight was the first of three fall evenings. I'm hoping to plan four more, starting in January.
We had a lovely time tonight, with 34 folks in all, including some who had never attended before. I made clam chowder (bacon and cheese on the side) and taco soup (fritos, cheese, sour cream, onions, and Tabasco on the side) and provided simple drinks (water, tea, lemondade). Guests brought bread or fruit. Most of the children did eat before running off to play. We adults talked and laughed (and ate, of course).
Just in case you're wondering, yes, I did make too much soup. I always do. Who knows which will be the most popular or how many neighbors will show up? Besides, taco soup freezes well. Here's a picture Len took of the soup remaining with just half an hour to go:Those are 8 quart and 16 quart pots... =)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
As Len suspected, when he got to the store he was faced with a choice:
- order a battery (not in stock!) for $60-70, OR
- get a new phone for $50 (then send in for the $50 rebate).
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Watching these grow and change is a project we've done many times as a family, but I never tire of it. Fortunately I have enough "fresh" students to enjoy it with me.
I'll keep you posted on their progress; for now here is a little more info:
- Eastern Black Swallowtails lay their eggs primarily on parsley, dill, and carrot tops.
- Every day or two the parsley needs to be changed. Caterpillar waste (which starts out tiny and black and later gets bigger and greener) should be tapped out of the jar as well.
- Occasionally spritz the jar with water to keep things moist but NOT wet.
- Caterpillars found earlier in the summer make chrysalises and emerge soon after. Late season ones (like ours) will overwinter (outside or in the fridge) and emerge in the spring.
- A great resource recommended to us long ago (and found in our library) is The Family Butterfly Book by Rick Mikula.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Yesterday Len's mom had back surgery. It's a big deal (duh) but went VERY well and she's already experiencing relief from her long term pain and other symptoms. She sounded positively perky on the phone tonight. Recovery will of course take patience and perseverance, both of which she has in good measure. Please pray for her and for Len's dad (and all the people taking care of them).
And after at least a week of snurgly morning and evening coughs, Rebecca is now miserable with a fever. Hopefully this will burn up the germs and she'll be back to her cheerful self soon.
It was more exciting/interesting than I expected to be at the rally. There was lots of enthusiasm and not too much trash-talking (certainly not from McCain or Palin).
As we were walking back to the car, the motorcade went right by us. Actually it almost went by, then stopped, then almost went by, then stopped again before finally driving past. Apparently John McCain got off his bus TWICE to mingle with the crowd--I could hear the walkie-talkies of the motorcycle escort. He didn't stop to shake our hands, but Joseph did get a shield decal from one of the police officers (who beckoned him into the street to give it to him).
The children are following this election more closely than I ever did at their age. They saw commercials for both candidates during the Olympics (we don't watch much tv) and have heard us discuss issues. Today we talked about Virginia as a battleground state and how the electoral college makes each state "all or nothing" for the candidates. They saw and heard politicians, protesters, and supporters. Some of the protesters were rude. Len told Joe that,"He who shouts loses the argument," only to hear someone on our side of the street yell something about "socialists and communists" and "voting for Muslims". Sigh. (Most people on both sides were adamant but civil.)
Altogether a day they're not likely to forget.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Example: Last week I went shopping while Len taught (yes, I know he's wonderful!). There I was at the grocery store when I spied them--poppy seed bagels! The store NEVER has them. There isn't even a label for them, but they are Daniel's favorite kind. I stocked up, gloating, and thought to myself, "Dan will be so excited! Wait until I show him! He can have one for lunch! ...Oh, no he can't...he's at SCHOOL..." It didn't quite make me sad, but it made me realize what a big change this is and that I haven't fully adapted yet.
By the way, Daniel's very happy at Trinity. Middle school soccer practice started a week before school, which helped with joining an established class. Some courses are easy and others less so, but he enjoys both the students and faculty.
Friday is a good example. In our hour and a half, we saw:
- a big spider (almost daddy-long-leg sized, but much sturdier)
- a stick bug (it stayed on the school table)
- open soft eggs (snake? turtle?)
- a pine cone on a branch
- a fast, fuzzy, white caterpillar
It's all good, but sometimes I do want to JUST GET ON WITH IT and stop with all the interruptions. After all these years I'm starting to mellow, but STILL need to remind myself that education isn't all about checking everything off the list.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Lauren gave me her bike (and bought another for $20 for college) and we found a tow bar (which I love--the subject of another post) so I can pull Rebecca. We've had our first two days of school now, and it looks like this is going to work. Our loose schedule looks like this:
- 8:00 rosary (a decade with meditation verses)
- pack backpacks and water, leave for playground
- work on "together" school--history, science, some religion, maybe spelling
- mostly recess for Rebecca (she colors during history)
- bits of play time for Joe and Marianna (between subjects or when I work one on one)
- 10 or 10:30 leave for home
- eat snack, make lunch
- more school? so far we've fiddled away this time
- 11:45 leave for mass
- 12:40 home (See why lunch was made ahead? We're HUNGRY!)
- 1:30 (Ha! I'm already slowing down by now) more school--mostly the individual work: music, math, reading, etc.
- Today we also had read aloud time (on tape really) while I tidied the kitchen.
- early or late afternoon (depending): carpool!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Indian desserts are quite different from what we're used to. They're generally mildly flavored (no intense chocolate, for example) and not as sweet as we expect. For our meal we made some cheese and nut dessert balls. The cheese (chenna) was homemade that day (an awesome project!) and is very mild (not even as tangy as cream cheese), so don't think this is savory. It's gently sweetened and flavored with orange rind. Not all the children cared for it, but many of us enjoyed it. A single batch (maybe 20 small balls) was enough for the family.