Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mosquito Larvae & Adults

Our school year is in full swing now. (I'll post our "first day" pics sometime.) We started out our nature studies this year with mosquitos. For some of our nature study we're following the Outdoor Hour Blog. There's some really great resources on that site.

We captured some larvae (and a pupa, though we didn't know it at the time) and an adult at my parents' house. We stuck the adult in the fridge to let her go to sleep so we could look at her.

Here are some really cool things we learned about mosquitos.
--The larvae have two tubes at the end of their tails -- a breathing tube and a swimming organ.
--Their head is hairy and those little hairs create a small current so to sort of "wave" the food in.
--Only females bite.
--Only females buzz/ sing.
--The males have very big and hairy antennae so as to hear the females' songs.
--The females tap blood to help nurture the eggs.
--The females lay their eggs in a big formation called an egg raft.

And here are some pics & video we took with our Zorb microscope.



And our adult:

And, since these guys are pests, my plan was for us to poor the water out, thereby leaving the larva to die; however, Emelye insisted that we not kill "baby mosquitos." So, we're waiting for them all to mature to adults . . .

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring is in the air!!

I wanted to start this post talking about how much I dislike winter. The cold. The dreariness. The gray skies. The cold. The naked trees. And, yes, the cold. And then I thought about how going without something often brings us to a point of longing for that which we love. Then I also considered how colder winters have a tendency to reduce the number of summertime mosquitos and other pests. So, I guess, in the long run, maybe having winter is beneficial.

BUT . . .

I still can't wait until it's over. Every year I eagerly await the first signs of life. The buds on the trees. A bee buzzing by, warming up from the cold winter. Forsythia buds. And, my personal favorite litmus test for new spring life -- the buttercup. I purposely have buttercups in my flower beds so I can have a daily check of new growth. (They are normally the very first signs of springtime that I see.)

And, of course, what is springtime without nest building, courtship, and little ducklings? My mom's duck, Hoppy, is spending a month or so here with Puddle to hopefully make that happen. Puddle has never seen another duck. I honestly believe she thinks that we are her flock. We brought Hoppy to meet our Puddle today. If she had a jaw I think it would have dropped when magnificent Hoppy stumbled out of his box. For a split second she was a little wary. Then she proceeded to march toward him and follow him around the yard and he checked out his new place.

Feeling a little insecure about his new surroundings, he quickly found some safety in a coop that we no longer use. (He's used to being in one at his home.) Puddle would go in to stay for a bit and then back out to get a drink from the turtle sandbox turned duck pond.

We are excited about the signs of new life around our yard and the possibility of new ducklings. I took a few pics of early springI hope you enjoy them!




First cherry blossom

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Riddles for thought

Emelye has recently gotten into riddle-telling. She hasn't quite caught on to how they work, though.

She and Josh regularly "quiz" each other, making up their own riddles. I wrote a few down from the other night. Enjoy!

Some of Josh's
What kind of plane doesn't fly?
One that doesn't have wings

What clock doesn't work?
A broken one

What strawberry are you not supposed to eat?
A poison one

What dinosaur does not bite?
A baby dinosaur

. . . and some of Emelye's
What kind of door doesn't open?
One that is locked

What kind of horse can fly?
A horsefly? Not so quick . . . It's a Pegasus

What do you call a fairy without wings?
A walking fairy

What bird can't fly?
A baby bird

What egg does not open?
An egg that's empty

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Birthday catch-up#2

A few months ago, I set out to make plans for a combined bday party for the two older ones whose birthdays fall 10 days apart. In the past, I have made two specialty cakes which take (for me) inordinate amounts of time. This year I was to make only one cake.

The design? Well, I left that up to Josh & Emelye. They had to agree. The rules were simple -- talk to each other. I am not mediating. Don't beat each other. When you've reached a decision, let me know.

I thought this assignment in negotiation & compromise would, if nothing else, be entertaining for me. And honestly, being that she is older & more cunning than her 4-year-old brother, I thought I'd be making some kind of pink fru-fru cake that Josh "approved" and "wanted."

Emelye campaigned heavily for a pink Polly Pocket cake full of rainbows, unicorns, flowers and all sorts of pinky goodness. Josh would hear none of it. (I was cheering on his stead-fastness inside!) Josh said that having a Batman cake would be the better option. I was afraid that a stalemate would ensue & maybe even a physical fight. Gridlock. Two stubborn wills trying to go at it.

Then, in a truly "aha" moment, Emelye came to Josh with the ultimate compromise. A wedding cake. For Batman & Polly Pocket.

And, so, I (crudely) fashioned a Batman/Polly Pocket wedding birthday cake.

Now for a little pic explaining, top down . . .
#1 -- Mimi gave Emelye an American GIrl Doll, Emily.
#2 -- Emelye's new book, Danny the Duck with no Quack
#3 -- Emelye reading about Jenn & Mike taking her to the America Girl Doll place in ATL.

#4 & 5 -- Addie reaction upon seeing her new "Minnie Mouse" polka dot pants.
#6 -- Addie's very own Bitty Baby, American Doll.

#7 & 8 -- Josh opening a remote control Drifting Lightning & upon learning that Jenn & Mike were taking him to Dinosaur World in KY.

#9 & 10 -- The cake!

#11 -- the food

Birthday Bonanza!

A bit of a catch-up post here . . . we had a combined bday party for the older two in August & our November Addie had her celebration last week.

Addie's first, since hers is fresher in the mind. ;)

We had her party at Miller's Grocery, a neat little place in Christiana. I made her a "Minnie Mouse" cake. This year's was a plain sheet cake iced with pink buttercream icing & white polka dots & trim. (Anything pink or red with white polka dots is automatically christened a "Minnie Mouse _____________.")

Her outfit was made by Melissa Flowers of Puddin Pop Designs. She had outgrown her official Minnie Mouse dress that my mom had made a year or two ago, so she's got a new one now!

And no visit to/ from Mimi would be complete without some fabulous "prizes" & clothes for the other kids! Josh got some new Cars stuff & Emelye got some Pet Shop toys.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Little Artist

When HP & I moved into our house 6 years ago, we re-painted all of the walls. (Well, HP & some of our friends did. I was quite preggo, so I tried to look busy doing something else.)

I picked out a higher gloss paint thinking that we would soon have little hands touching & probably drawing on them. And I wanted a slick finish so we could (theoretically) clean off the wall surfaces a little more easily.

Emelye came. Then Josh came. And there were no written markings on the wall. I had a mixture of emotion -- patting myself on the back for having awesome kids that don't mark on the walls and kicking myself a little thinking the high gloss paint wasn't really worth it.

Then Addie came. Addie met markers, crayons, pencils, & pens. She will mark on any surface, including herself, with any type of marking instrument. And don't blink. She's quite sneaky, holding pens under the table & looking so innocent all the while drawing on the chair where she sits.

My friend Shawna remarked that she had never seen Addie w/o some lovely Addie illustrations to decorate her legs & arms. She also told me that she & Scamp hide the markers & crayons before Addie comes over.

Last month I went on a crusade to round up all marking instruments & put them in a combination safe. No joking here. I found a lovely little locking file box at Office Depot. That helped some. The thing to remember about Addie is that she is sneaky. So, I may have the crayons out for the kids to color while I make dinner. She will actually take a few crayons out of her box & hide them for later use.

So, while I don't always take her markings in stride, I am glad that we have high gloss paint & I am thankful for her creativity. And I do smile (usually) to myself when I see her latest drawing on her legs. (Truth be told, those don't really bother me because they get rid of themselves in the bath.

Here's one of her latest (before I hid the crayons):



Our Moths Have Emerged!

So in my last post, I mentioned something about finding some white caterpillars around the b'fly garden & identifying them as Virginia Tiger Moth caterpillars. Well, the first one emerged a few days ago & I wanted to share some pics.

Emelye put him outside to "be with his family" once he emerged.