Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Caterpillar Named "Butterfly"

I became intrigued with the idea of hatching a butterfly when I learned a friend of mine has done this with her children and they loved it. She found her caterpillar in a milkweed patch. I am a nature/animal lover at heart, so I thought of doing this sometime maybe next year. I thought it was too late to find one this year, but we went to the park by our house and I saw milkweed all over. I started looking around and within a few minutes had found a nice, plump monarch caterpillar. He looked huge! I decided to keep day to day pictures as he changes from caterpillar to butterfly.

Around 3:00pm
Found the caterpillar in the park in the wild grass area. This picture was taken while the caterpillar crawled on J's toy lizard. This was before I put him an empty water bottle I had in the car to transport him home.

Around 6:00pm same day.
Now in its new home (an old lunchables box). He seemed to want to be near the top of the container and after this picture, he actually moved to being upside down on the top of the cage. At this point, I asked J what he wanted to name him. After lots of ummm....ummm....he said Butterfly! I asked a couple times just to be sure he meant that as a name and he said yeah, call him Butterfly!

Around midnight same day.
Went to check our little guy to see if he ate any of his leaves or if he was still hanging out at the top of the cage and viola! Here he is in "pre-pupa" stage with his "cremaster" molded to the top and hanging in the J formation. (The cremaster is a black, hook-like piece that attaches the pupa to an item where they will hang until becoming a caterpillar).

Between 12noon and 3pm
WOW! He moved into the chrysalis stage without us being able to witness it! Sorry these pictures aren't so great, but he's hanging there in his green cocoon. The most amazing thing is, if you get really close you can see a ring of these incredibly tiny gold-looking beads that form a ring around the top. It's amazing! Cocoon jewelry??? (From the research I did, it appears the function of these is not quite known but may have something to do with pigmentation or scaling of the eventual butterfly.)

Here's the story .... So we took him with us on our vacation up north and put him in the car about 12noon. By the time I checked on him around 3pm, he had already transformed into a green cocoon! So the chrysalis (cocoon) itself is actually clear, and what you see is the caterpillar inside but it is now called a pupa. From my research, it only takes them about 3 minutes to shed their skin and become a pupa so we would have had to watch him constantly. Then, once they shed their exoskeleton they are a yellowish color and it takes about 2 hours more to reach the hard, green cocoon stage. So we missed the yellow-turning-green stage too. (I can't complain though, because it's still exciting to learn all this.) Now we are waiting 10-14 days until our little friend should come out as a butterfly. We will get a warning sign as the cocoon will change color as the wings are formed. At that point, the cocoon will look very clear and you will see the orange/black color which is actually the wings. I'll post again about this when that is happening!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tot School (Before and During Vacation)

**J is 27 months old**
Tot School

We started off our week with me teaching a little song with finger play called "Where is Thumbkin". This is one we used to do when I was a kid. Somehow it popped into my mind today. J really loved it. He kept saying, "Do again it?!" (do it again) so I'd do it over and over until he started joining me in singing and trying to use his fingers too.

They had a 75% off sale at our grocery store and I got this book I Can Stencil My Numbers. They have numbers 1-10 with a little picture. I wasn't sure if J could do this one yet, but I started out and then he wanted to do it. I think he did pretty well. He enjoyed it too.

We had a play date with two other moms and the kids did a couple projects. One was ocean creature sponges that start out as a tiny little capsule that when put in water expand into a little sponge. J's was a lobster. We also did some Do-A-Dot painting of a dinosaur an elephant.

While making breakfast one morning, J wanted me to play our kids worship CD, Songs for Worship Volume 1. I hadn't played this in a while and it was nice to enjoy it again and see J enjoying it.

J had a little book frenzy as I opened the cupboard with all our books and he "read" a bunch on his own. After he was done, I had to take a picture of them strewn all over floor. Then a picture once cleaned up ;)

We went to his play group called Pal Zone. We were excited to see my friend Eileen with her son Jackson. During circle time, Birch (the teacher) read a gorilla book that also had many other animals in it. For the craft, the kids got to make any animal. Not really sure what J's animal is, but he had a really fun time making it. He did really well with showing me where he wanted something (feathers, eyes, shapes), I'd put the glue in that spot and then he'd press it on.

J found a box I had sitting off from our living room. In it was an elephant slide that goes with his little summer wading pool, but we never used it. I got the idea to blow it up and let J play with it inside. He had a ball! He would slide down it and then his spider man would slide down. He also had his dinosaurs and elephant figures walk through the little tunnel under the slide. We got out all of his balls and rolled them down the slide too. We'll have to do this one again!

We spent some time at the park on one of the beautiful afternoons we had. Here's J enjoying the swings. I did my good deed of the day with fixing the two adult swings. Someone had twisted them around the top of the swing set so they were stuck. I pulled over a picnic table and stood on top. Using a long stick, after several tries and lots of arm work I got the swings unraveled and then mommy got to swing too!

There is a lot of milkweed there (at the park) so I was looking around and sure enough I found a nice, large monarch caterpillar! A friend of mine had raised one with her children and I thought this was a great idea so J and I took him home. I put him in an empty water bottle to take him home, then I used an old lunchables container. Here he is crawling on the top of the container and then below it is when he surprised us by starting to curl up into his pre-cocoon position. I am doing a separate blog entry about this so I'll post that soon.

Peek a Boo Elmo
Old McDonald Had a Farm

We watched part of a movie called Misty. This is based on a book I read as a child called Misty of Chincoteague. Chincoteague is an island in Virginia where wild ponies live and every year they have the herd swim into the town and auction off some of the foals. It was fun reminiscing while I saw this movie, as I loved the book as a child.

We watched the movie Stellaluna and it had the words from the book following right along on the screen. J loves this story yet this time he actually got sad because the owl chases Stellaluna's mom but he didn't want me to turn it off.

We watched some of the Leapfrog Storybook Factory.

We did a little from Sesame Street's 123 Count with Ernie.

We found the DVD Old Bear and Friends which had the story called Hoot. This is a book we read from the library. Hoot is a story about little stuffed animals who find a little owl friend. I think J loved seeing it even more on DVD. It is a sweet little story.


These are some pictures from our trip up to the North Woods of Wisconsin. As I type, I'm sitting in a little restaurant called Sunrise Cafe that has WiFi. We have a cozy little cabin in the woods off a lake called St. Germain. Our friend Dave (my husband's old roommate of 11 years) traveled with us too.

For more fun with Tot School ideas, visit 1+1+1=1

Tiny Tag Alongs
Also, here's another Tot linky I joined that is fun to visit.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We are leaving today for the North Woods of Wisconsin going on vacation. We'll be spending several days in a cozy 2-bedroom cabin on a lake surrounded by pine trees and from what I hear lots of deer and other wildlife (like bald eagles). There may be a post or two if we can get WiFi, but otherwise will be having a little down time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday ("Time Out")

**J is 27 months old**

Somewhere along this blogging journey, I found this idea for recording the funny and interesting things our little ones are saying. Here is where I like to link up and share them. Feel free to visit Not Before 7 by clicking the button above and join the fun!

I only have a few to share this week. I really can't remember those that I don't write down right away. I know there were some cute ones while we were in the car, but I didn't get to write them down.

One day this week we were coming home from somewhere and J was asking if Dave was coming over. (Dave is my husband's old roommate/friend who sometimes watches J.) I told him Dave wasn't coming over and he got really sad. He said, "I miss my friend Dave mommy. I miss my friend." This was so cute. He's said he's missed his daddy before, but not anyone else.

During breakfast, I was reading a book while I was eating my cereal. Out of the blue J says, "What are you reading mommy?" To me this just seemed like something a 4-year-old would say, not my 2-year-old. I told him it was a book all about how to raise him (Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson).

We were hanging out after our mom's group which meets at church and J wandered over to the closed doors of the church area. He starts standing there with his face to the wall and I asked him, "What are you doing J?" He said, "I'm in time out mommy." I asked him what he was in time out for. He said, "Hurt mommy." It dawned on me that just before this I was changing him and while on the changing table he was kicking me. I had asked him to stop because that hurts when he does that. So he had put himself in a time out! I was floored.

Photo credit:

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Last Shall Be First....

I'm not really sure where to start today with this new blogging format (not blogging in a "daily journal" format but more of a summary of highlights and not every day). What's most on my mind is being really out of sync because J's "schedule" the last couple days has been really off. I can see how having a basic schedule is so helpful for both of us, and how hard it can be when it's off. So over the weekend J got up earlier than normal. It was 6:30am Friday and 4:30am Saturday when usually he's getting up between 7:30/8:30am. He did go back to sleep a bit on Saturday but his afternoon naps have been late and he's been really ornery and difficult from dinner time on. He was crying at the drop of a hat and even fighting going to sleep which is rare. I went through four cycles of putting him to bed, crying nonstop, soothing and putting back to bed, sleeping finally after 10pm. We've been so blessed that he doesn't usually fight sleep, so I can't complain. Somehow I just think his little internal clock was off a bit. Meal time has been a bit harder too with J getting less sleep than normal. Today, things seem to be pretty much back to normal with no major breakdowns or sleep issues. Yay!

As far as the past several days, his time at Pal Zone stood out. That's a play group that we go to on Wednesdays with open play, circle/story time, songs and a craft. I'm glad I decided to change my schedule around so we can keep going. I realized how much I've seen him grow through this with open play time with a lot of different kids and structured activities to follow. We also get together with two other moms and their little girls usually every Monday. This also has been great for them learning how to share and play together. The moms get some good adult time. We also do some craft projects too.

I was excited to start up again in our mom's Titus group at church. I've been asked to be a greeter and open doors for moms as they come in. I enjoyed doing this and was blessed later by the mentor mom who was our keynote speaker. Barb shared a great story about moving out of our comfort zones and learning more about being stretched in trusting the Lord for how things will turn out.

My husband's good friend lost his mom this week. She was a wonderful southern gal and passionate Christian who lived to the age of 92. We made the decision to take J to her funeral, which was the first one he's been to. He kept asking what we were doing and where we were and it was a bit hard for him to understand. He met Wilda before and so I explained we were there to celebrate Wilda's life who had left here to go to heaven to be with Jesus. The only time we've talked about death was after our cat Rio died, so I was able to remind him of that and I think he started to get it when he said, "now there's 2 of them in heaven". He was very curious about the cemetery and was looking at the grave stones like ones with photos and picture engravings. He wasn't disruptive at all which was such a blessing. Although, we did sit far away from the main area during the service at the funeral home since J is still learning to use an "inside" voice.

We have had a few days of wonderful weather this week, and Friday night was just beautiful. We didn't even need jackets and we spent most of the evening downtown. The three of us had dinner then walked along State Street and to our student union. Today (Monday) started out a little cold and drizzly but then ended up being beautiful with the sun coming out and reaching over 70 degrees. Just perfect.

Devotional Time
My time with the Lord, although it hasn't been every day, has been good. I'm really seeing a theme coming up over and over again and I sense the Lord speaking loudly! I'm trying to have the ears to listen. Matthew 19:30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

First, what's interesting to me is that I don't remember my mom quoting a lot from the bible yet this verse is one I remember her saying so often. Yet even then I never understood it. Part of how I think God is instructing me is like my heart is being tested to see what's there when literally I am "last" in something, or inconvenienced/not "first" or getting my way. I relate getting my way in things to being "first". There were three times in one day that it hit me I was "last" in something that I wanted to be "first" in and how uptight and even angry I got about it. Yet I caught myself when I found this verse coming in to my head and I'm asking the Lord to keep teaching me. I just love when I sense the Lord's hand like this, yet it is a bit overwhelming right now to see how often this comes up for me. This is another verse that has come to mind that I am studying as I seek to gain wisdom. Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Lastly, somehow our camera has gone missing. I last used it Thursday night and I found out on Sunday that I cannot find it anywhere! It is such an integral part of how I'm documenting our life and a huge part of the blog. I really hope it shows up. This is the actually the second time I'll be without a camera so I'll have to figure something out soon. In the meantime, at least at home I'll be able to use my husband's camera but it's an expensive one so I won't be toting it anywhere.

Photo credit: Journeying Down Life's Never-ending Road

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tot School (Letters, Music, Zoo )

**J is 27 months old**
Tot School

Reorganization of J's play and learn area BEFORE and AFTER

This is something that has been on my mind for a LONG time. I forgot to take the BEFORE picture right when I started, so I already removed a huge box that was in the middle of the floor holding his books and there wasn't a nice clear path to his toys. So I started this one day around 3pm and didn't actually finish until 12:30am! It was so worth it though. I didn't work straight through all those hours, but did spend a good amount of time on it. So far, for our Tot School we are really doing "free form" whatever J happens to pull off the shelf. I will then get things that go with that theme if we have them and sometimes I do initiate what we'll do. So far we're not doing Tot Trays, but it's a possible idea for the future.

Letter Recognition

One of the things we're focusing on as we do work with the ABCs is letter recognition. J totally surprised me one day by taking his elephant picture card and then picking up the letter E from his foam mat and bringing them to me saying, "E for Elephant!" We hadn't even been playing with the letters, he just did this out of the blue. I felt so reassured that he is really enjoying what we're learning to have him go and do this on his own! (He dropped them to fast to get a "live" picture, so I set them up for this photo.)

Letter Tracing

J asked a few times to do sidewalk chalk this week. A couple times we were getting ready to leave the house, so we had to postpone. This time I was writing the letters and seeing if he could learn to trace them. At first, he just colored inside the letters, but after doing a few, he started to do a little bit of tracing.

Music Appreciation

One of the things buried before I reorganized and J enjoyed playing with again. Before, he didn't use the mallet for the xylophone part yet it's been so long since we've played with it that holding the mallet and playing was mainly what he wanted to do.

Nursery rhymes/music

This book is something I got at Walgreens and it too was buried. This was one of his favorite things to do this week. On each page is a different nursery rhyme and the music plays along with it. We haven't done a lot with nursery rhymes but by the end of the week he knew a few of the songs and was singing some parts. We also got a Richard Scarry Mother Goose book that he's been enjoying too.


Dinosaur Bones

Harry and the Elephant

When Autumn Falls

Our Nest

Learning at the Zoo

This summer, our zoo has had an art exhibit called "Art Zoobilee" with various artists donating decorated animals for a fall auction. This time, J was really interested in visiting them going from one to the other. This was fun talking to him about the things he was seeing like colors, shapes, pictures, etc.

I am really fascinated by bees and this bee exhibit was so much fun for me. J seemed pretty interested too, partly because I was so excited. There were the hives inside you see here and also hives outside (below) and I actually got a picture of a bee flying up to the entrance. Another cool thing was looking into the tube that was a tunnel from the outside to the inside. We looked at things under the microscope and also stopped by to visit the bats. Ever since we read the book Stellaluna about a lost baby fruit bat, J's been interested in bats too.

Motor skills

Yet another find in the re-org, his hammer and nail set. The nails are a bit hard to get in so he got frustrated after a little bit and we moved on to something else.

Hanging out in the fort

I have been wanting to do this for a long time, and finally did it; building a fort. We brought some books and toys inside and hung out for a while. He was more interested in pulling it apart and wrecking the fort and that part frustrated me (it was at the end of a longer day) so we called it a night after I got some cute pictures. (You'll also notice he's also in just his diaper. Earlier in the day, he didn't want to have his clothes on so he ran around in a diaper for most of it.

Fun Enjoying LIFE!
We had fun with the Mr. Bubble foam soap. I think I got a little carried away but he kept wanting more. He looked so cute!

For some reason, I just love this picture of J looking out from the bridge at the water below. This was also at the zoo. There is a scenic path from the zoo park leading into the zoo and there were a couple bridges. We saw ducks and a lot of geese. He stopped by the geese and we all kept walking yet J wouldn't come. I went back and saw him trying to pick up some little berries. I asked him to come and he wouldn't go until we fed some of the berries to the geese. So I tossed a few and they did eat them!

Another zoo picture. A mural from the reptile house.

We had a play date with J's friend Jackson and they played surprisingly well together. J had the harder time sharing since these were his toys, but Jackson is also pretty mellow. It was fun watching them play alongside one another.

For more fun with Tot School ideas, visit 1+1+1=1

Here are a couple other Tot links I join that are fun to visit.