Thursday, April 18, 2013

Raising Painted Ladies

This past month we have been raising butterflies as part of life science at King's Dominion Academy.  We received our newly hatched caterpillars in the mail on March 13.  They came complete with all the necessary food in the bottom of the container, so our job was easy--watch and wait. Here's Day 1:
They started out so small!

They grew very quickly, and while they grew, we learned as much about butterflies as we could.  We checked out stacks of books from the library, printed out worksheets online, and made lots of butterfly crafts. Here's a sampling of what she made:

AR & J painted wooden butterfly magnets

We put together this wooden butterfly, and then painted it to look like a Painted Lady butterfly.

stained-glass butterfly made by melting crayon shavings between two sheets of wax paper with a warm iron
It was so much fun!  I learned so much I had never know before, and we were both amazed at God's handiwork in these small creatures.  Some things we learned:
Anatomy of a butterfly (including scientific names like proboscis, thorax, compound eyes, spiracles, etc.)
Life cycle of a butterfly
Monarch caterpillars and butterflies are poisonous because of the milkweed plant they eat, and animals know not to eat them because of their bright colors and markings.
Painted Lady butterflies (the ones we have) mimic this coloring as a protective measure.
Many butterflies have false eyespots to confuse predators.
Some butterflies migrate thousands of miles.
Butterfly eggs are the size of a pinhead.
You can tell apart a male from a female monarch butterfly by looking for a black scent spot on the bottom of their wings.
Butterflies emit a special smell to attract mates.
The caterpillars shed their skin up to 4 times before their final transformation.
They need a body temperature of 85 degrees in order to fly.  They warm themselves up by shivering or basking in the sun.
Painted Lady caterpillars love to eat thistle, a common weed.
Butterflies taste with their feet.
They suck nectar from flowers by unrolling their tongue and using it like a straw.
When a Painted Lady butterfly emerges from it's chrysalis, there is a byproduct of metamorphosis that looks like blood called meconium.  (We were glad we learned this one, or else we would have been worried when we saw they red marks all over the cage.)

Here they are getting bigger:

And bigger...

About 10 days after we received the caterpillars, the first caterpillar began making a chrysalis, and the others followed suit shortly after.  It's funny to see them hanging from the top of the container looking like a letter "J" before they shed their final layer of skin, which hardens into the chrysalis.  After they all were settled in, we transferred them from the small plastic container to the netted butterfly keeper.

waiting while the mystery transformation happens inside!
On the evening of April 4, we noticed at dinner that there was a butterfly on the side of the cage!  We were so excited, but were all a little disappointed that we missed seeing it emerge from it's chrysalis.  But we had fun looking at it with our magnifying glasses, and we even took it out and held it for a bit after it's wings had dried.  Anna Ruth named the butterfly Beautiful, hoping it was a girl.
Josiah is learning to be a scientist
I held it first to show the kids that it was safe!
It tickles me!

We actually never witnessed an emergence; it seemed like it happened so quickly!  But I did catch one right out of the chrysalis, with it's wings still crumpled up and wet.

See the wings all crumpled up?!
Once they were all butterflies, we put orange and banana slices in the cage, as well as some homemade nectar in a container with a paper towel wick for them to suck it out.  It was fun to watch them drink.  They really seemed to like the fresh fruit more than the nectar.

enjoying a banana slice

With Painted Ladies, you can't tell the males from the females, so you never know what you have, but Anna Ruth decided that we had a couple boys in there in addition to Beautiful, so she and James named the big, obnoxious one Dino.  We also had a butterfly with a large eyespot on the bottom on his wings, so she named him Eyespot.  Another one did not have antennae, had a wierd looking eye, and something wrong with his front left leg, so AR named him Poor Fellow.  About a week ago, we noticed that we had did indeed have some of each, because we got to see them mating!
the lovebirds
Now, we have teeny tiny little greenish eggs on the leaves and the bottom of the cage.  We'll see if we can have another go-around and witness the miraculous life cycle of the butterfly once again!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Knight with His Princess

Our homeschool support group had a sweet event this past weekend--the Daddy/Daughter Dance.  It was a great opportunity for Rich and Anna Ruth to have some time together.  I found a beautiful dress for her at Ross for a great price, and she was so excited to wear it and see Rich's reaction.  I also made her a pearl bracelet to go with it, and she wore the pearl necklace that Daddy gave her for her 5th birthday.  She chose her own hairdo from a website that we use called Babes in Hairland.  If you'd like to try it, click here.
She's getting so grown up!
Love those dark eyelashes--she has natural God-given mascara!

Rich and his princess

view of the hairdo
close up
I also made 100 decorated cookies as favors for the girls at the dance.  It turned out to quite a bit more work and time than I anticipated, but I was glad that they turned out so well, and that the girls enjoyed them.
Josiah had a huge fit seeing all these cookies on the table and being told he could not have one!

I found some decorating ideas online, and it was fun to try them out

I loved using the little pearl decorations

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, Josiah!

Doggie Decorations
We celebrated Josiah's 2nd birthday on Sunday, so that we could spend it with both sets of grandparents and Aunt Jess and Uncle Brian.  The theme was DOGS! because Josiah is obsessed with dogs right now.  He really loves all animals, but he especially loves dogs.  Every time he sees one in a book or movie, he says, "Awwwww, doggie!"  And every bark from a dog when we're on a walk causes him to perk up, and with wide eyes he yells, "Doggie!"  It's so funny how he was just born loving animals, and how he has no fear of dogs, even when they are twice his size.  We do not have a dog, since I am allergic, but we asked Aunt Jess and Uncle Brian if they would bring their dog, Beaufort, for a visit.  All the kids loved seeing him and taking him on a walk.  Anna Ruth even got him to sit, lay down, roll over, and shake her hand--she loved being in charge and having someone actually obey her!  (Her brothers don't usually listen, even though she tries very hard.)  Having Beaufort there was the highlight of the party!  And I think Beaufort thought he had suddenly become royalty with all the petting, attention, and treats. :)

"cousin" Beaufort

The menu was hotdogs, with 2 different themed toppings along with a variety of chips.  One was called the Carolina Dog:  chili, cheese, and coleslaw (jalapenos and onion were optional additions), and the other was the Cuban Dog:  shredded lettuce, pineapple, diced avocado, and mojo sauce.  Both types were really good!  Of course for dessert, I made a doggie cake, and he seemed to like it a lot.
Josiah enjoying his hotdog--he ate 2, plus chips!
James and AR enjoying their hotdogs, chips, and root beer.

Doggie cake--his eyes and ear got messed up in transit, but he was still pretty cute.  Notice the "2" on the collar.
Josiah received lots of stuffed dogs, several of which he sleeps with every night.  He also got a book from Lita and Pop-Pop called I Love Dogs that is written in English and Spanish.  Aunt Jess and Uncle Brian got him two cute outfits, a stuffed dog, and a fun book about animals with buttons that make the animal sounds.  Gramps and Memaw got him a set of wooden building blocks, and he and James have been building with them ever since.  Mommy and Daddy got him a giant dog coloring book, a stuffed dog, and we are looking for a fun outdoor activity toy to get him as well.  Anna Ruth picked out a mini monster truck, since he likes to steal James' trucks.  He has been enjoying all of his gifts!  He is blessed with such a loving and generous family.
dalmation pup from AJ and UB
He always points to the "eyes"
Josiah with all his doggies!

He loved the book with animal sounds--so cute!

It was a wonderful celebration.  We are so thankful for Josiah's life.  He is a joy and a blessing to our family. We love watching him grow and learn, and we pray that he will become a strong, godly leader and example, just like good King Josiah in the Bible.

Here are a few more fun pics from the afternoon:
AR had to borrow a sweatshirt for the walk--Thanks Aunt Carol! 

James finally wore his doggie ears just for 1 picture.

I made the doggie ear headbands, and then the kids weren't too keen on wearing them,
so Dad, Jess, and I gave them a try.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

If it's quiet, you know Josiah's up to something...

James came into my room to let me know that Josiah was doing something bad, and this is what he looked like when I found him.  He had gotten into my lipstick, and knew just what to do with it.  I don't think it's his color though... :)
He knows I can't stay upset when I see this face
When I took a picture of Josiah, Anna Ruth wanted to join in on the picture.
 My 2 blue-eyed beauties!  Can you tell they're related?! 
Then James joined in as well.  He knows I get frustrated with him squinting his eyes in every picture, so he did it just to get a rise out of me.  Then, he asked to see the picture, and laughed hysterically at his silly face!
I just adore these little cuties--they're growing up way too fast!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

AR's Room Redo

I've been thinking about painting AR's room for a while now, gathering ideas from magazines and pinterest, and I finally just bought the paint and decided to start working on it last weekend.  I bought some pale blue paint from Wal-Mart, read a bunch of painting tips from the internet (this is my very first painting project), and set to work clearing out the room, cleaning the walls, filling in holes, etc.  I was able to get the whole room ready for painting on Friday, and then I painted Saturday morning.  Saturday night I then painted on the tree and the leaves.  I had found a picture in a Pottery Barn Kids magazine of a cherry blossom tree decal (for $175--no way!!) that I loved, so I decided to try to paint one myself.  Here is a picture of my inspiration:

On Monday and Tuesday, I did finishing touches like painting more flowers on the tree, hanging things on the wall, putting up new hooks and decorations, and figuring out the final layout of the furniture.  Unfortunately, I do not have any "before" pictures, but just imagine a plain white, boring room, without much prettiness at all.  Here's the pictures I took today (keeping in mind, I am still looking for a cute curtain rod and curtains):
view from the door--
the tree and leaves I free-handed, the flowers are stenciled, and the butterflies are stick-on decals

other side of the room--
2 hooks I got from the thrift store and repainted, her closet, her dresser
and cute necklace hanger that happens to go perfectly

bookcase right by the door with a cute hand-me-down lamp from cousins, horse calendar,
and pretty framed verse handmade by Aunt Carol

close-up of the initials hanging from the tree branch--these I had from her nursery decorations,
but they were lavender gingham with purple ribbon that didn't quite match,
so I repainted them with the extra pink paint, and added blue ribbon from my stash

looking straight at the tree (the butterfly decals I found at Dollar Tree!)

I added the pretty scrapbook paper to this verse that was in her room previously so it would coordinate--Psalm 78:4
I am so excited about how well everything turned out, and the best part is seeing how excited she is about her new room!  How do you like it?!

Monday, October 15, 2012

DIY Fabric-Covered Bins

I have lots of diaper boxes around here, so when I saw the idea of covering them with fabric, I jumped at that.  I love bins, but they are fairly expensive, so I rarely buy them.  But now I have lots of bins around my house that are cute and very cheap and easy to make!  I love being able to use things I would normally throw away to make something useful.  For this particular project I covered one diaper box and one plastic basket that I got from Dollar Tree.  I found the fabric on the clearance rack at Hancock's, so it was less than $5 for all of it.  I just cut the fabric to a size that would cover the box, sponge-brushed on some glue (spray adhesive would probably work better, though), and carefully pressed on the fabric.  I just sort of folded and cut to make it work around the corners and edges.  See how it turned out!

what I started with...

the transformation begins...

how it looks on the bookshelf

I made the bottom pretty with some of the extra fabric.

the plastic basket looks nice on my front counter