Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Praying Mantises Have Hatched!

Wow! That was quick! I just posted yesterday that I expected the mantis egg sacks to hatch any day now...I didn't expect it to be the very next day. Here are a few of the pictures of them thus far. It appears that only one sack has hatched. You can tell in the second picture that some "strings" or "threads" are hanging. This apparently is from when they first come out of the sack and hang until they have "dried" out.

We have about 100 or more praying mantis babies right now. Today, we released some wingless flies into their cage. We haven't seen them catch one, yet, but the pet store assured us that these will feed them well. Once we get some warmer weather, we may consider letting some of them go near our garden so we don't have as many to feed. I don't think many would survive if we do it right now.

Our buggy adventure is just beginning. We now have wingless flies and praying mantis babies. The things we endure for our children! I keep telling myself : This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass. They are cool to watch, but they bug me. I keep worrying they'll escape. I think I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

T is enjoying himself and really learning quite a bit. It has been a great motivator for him to learn even more about insects and their life cycles. This all coordinates very well with his recent enrollment is the 4-H entomology program and the activites he is doing in his science book.

I'll try to post more pictures as they grow.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Going Batty!

The latest Young Adventurers program was on the topic of bats. Miss Cyndi did a fantastic job of dispelling the myths surrounding bats and educating the kids about their unique traits. She made some great models to help the kids visualize the largest and smallest bat species. We then watched and discussed a very informative video on bats. Afterwards, we took a short walk and saw some of the places where bats had recently spent the night, as evidence from their bat droppings. The kids then did a follow-up craft of a bat with movable wings which they could take home to remind them of what they had learned.

After the program, the kids had an adventure of their own in the dry creek bed. It is one of their favorite places in the park.

Rescued Skink

Truly, I screamed while doing laundry! Not that I am afraid of laundry, but simply because I never expected to find a skink in my basement under a pile of laundry. T was a brave lad and rescued it in his mason "bug" jar that has holes in the lid. We inspected it for a few minutes and did some research on skinks using the Internet and our animal encyclopedia. After finding out that they are helpful in gardens, T set it free near our garden in hopes it will stick around and eat up all the bad bug.

If you are wondering about our praying mantis egg cases, here is an update: they haven't hatched yet. We are hoping any day now, but it could still be another week or two according to the instructions that came with the egg cases. I'll post pictures when anything happens.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter 2012

Hoppy Easter! Hop! Hop!
D with his Easter Frog.

Big sisters just couldn't resist cuddling up to their little bro. I really like this picture. It is one of my favorites. It will definitely be going in the baby book!

The kids were up before 6am on Easter morning! I think they were even more excited than they were Christmas morning. It was D's first Easter, so he also got a new basket as a part of his Easter gifts.

This year we tried the Holy Saturday cookies that I've read about in the past, but never had the time to try. Even dear Hubby helped with the cookies, but the kids didn't care for the taste of them come Easter morning when they were finished. Believe it or not, but they said they were too sweet! If you've never heard of Holy Saturday cookies, then here is the recipe and maybe you can try them next year.

Holy Saturday Cookies: make just before bedtime
1 c. walnut or pecan halves
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vinegar
pinch of salt
1 c. sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place nuts in plastic food storage bag. Have children beat the nuts into smaller pieces with the wooden spoon. Remind the children that Jesus was arrested and then beaten by Roman soldiers. [John 19:1-3]
... Break egg whites into a grease-free metal or glass mixing bowl. Eggs are symbolic of life. Jesus gave His life for ours. [John 10:11]

Allow the children to smell the vinegar, then sprinkle it onto the egg whites. In His Passion on the Cross, Jesus was given vinegar to drink. [John 19:28-30]

Give each child a tiny pinch of salt to taste, and then put into the egg whites. Salt reminds us of the tears and sadness caused by our sins.

Beat the egg whites on ‘high’ until stiff peaks form. Note their pure whiteness, symbolizing Jesus’ pure and perfect offering, the pure Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins. [Mal. 1:11]

Put sugar in egg whites and beat again until blended. The sweet sugar reminds us of the response at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: ‘You have given them Bread from heaven. R:

Having all sweetness within it.’ Jesus is our Bread of Life!

Fold nuts into the egg whites, then drop by teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Each cookie symbolizes the rocky hill with the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. [Matt. 27:57-60]

Set the cookie sheet in the oven and close the door. Let your children help tape the oven door shut. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed so no one could get in or out. Turn off the oven. [Matt. 27:65-66]

Tell the children that it is time for bed. Like the disciples, they must await the Resurrection.

On Easter morning, go to the oven. When Jesus’ disciples came to the tomb on Easter morning, what did they find? They found that the tomb on the rocky hill was empty, because Jesus was alive! Like the tomb, the cookies are ‘empty’ inside. [They will be hollow when the children bite into them.] [Matt. 28:1-9] Christ Our Lord is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Red-Neck Play Pen and April Fool's Day

Here is our Red-Neck play pen that we used the other week while grilling out on the deck. It worked like a charm to keep D on the deck and his toys nearby.

We don't usually do too much for April Fool's Day, but this year I thought it would be cute just to do a few innocent little tricks/pranks. M helped me to mix up the cereals the night before, so that the kids would get a surprise when they tried to pour it into their bowl. I also colored their milk blue, since they always refer to their milk at the "blue" milk because it has a blue cap. That ended up being the funniest thing. B came into the bedroom early in the morning to inform her father that their milk was blue. He sleepily stated, "Yes I know your milk is the blue cap milk. Why are you waking me up to tell me that? Go eat breakfast!" I had to inform him that their milk really was BLUE . We both laughed for quite some time over that. E didn't even want to eat breakfast because he was a little leery of how it would taste.

Later in the day I cooked up some of our chickens we raised and butchered that were in the freezer. When I told the oldest two they were going to help me pull the meat of the bones, they thought I was kidding and it was an April Fools joke. The joke was on them, because I really made them help and I taught them where to find all the meat. When I let them taste it, they were glad to be the ones doing this job because it meant "free samples" as they put it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Drumline Community Performance

Our lovely babysitter, Chelsea, invited us to attend the community performance for her winter drumline at the highschool. It was a great opportunity for all the kids to see and hear the different percussion instruments and learn what a Vangaurd looks like when it performs. Between 8-10 other local highschools came and performed in a variety of different styles and showed off their musical and theatrical talents. There was even a local adult special needs group who performed a rendition of Micheal Jackson's "Thriller" that they had worked on for the past three months. This is one of those things that only comes around once a year, and I am glad we were able to attend it!
"Thriller" Vangaurd dance performance with batons and sword throwing.
Much darker and "futuristic/out of this world" themed performance.

This group did a "Sword in the Stone" themed song complete with a castle and Renaissance costumes.

Chelsea's group performed a really energetic song that had a theme entitled "Keeping Time". They went on to win fifth in the state the following day! Congrats, Chelsea! Great job and we appreciate all your hard work!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Fever!

Spring is definitely one of our busiest times of the year. We have chicks were are incubating and holding twice a day, seedlings we are growing and watering, Chinese praying mantis eggs we are hatching, 4-H projects were are working on, hair cuts for the warmer weather, and we are changing out our cold weather clothes for warmer weather clothes and getting rid of old ones.

We also just purchased some gold fish for T's 4-H Aqua Science project that will need to be fed 2-3 times daily. Of course, school work is also being done diligently Monday through Friday to ensure that we will have our first two quarters in before the summer break.

I am a little overwhelmed just listing it all. It is definitely an active time at our house, but there is so much to learn from each of these activities and projects. I need to keep reminding myself of that!

B with one of her 4-H gardening project activities. She was learning about plant parts and how they "drink". She really liked this one.

The Chinese praying mantis' are great for our science class and also will be a very beneficial addition to our garden. They eat all sorts of harmful bugs and insects that like to damage plants. The kit says that we can expect between 400-800 mantis to hatch! This should be interesting!

The purple basil sprouted in less than five days!!! I was truly amazed! Many of our other seedlings are growing now, as well, and it has only been a week! We are having much better luck with these heirloom seeds than many of the store bought, high bred varieties we've tried in the past. I am getting excited to get working in the garden and get some peas, lettuce, and cabbage in the ground. I hope the weather will cooperate so I can get them in soon!

D's first trim by Grammy. This was shortly after buzzing T and E's hair for the upcoming warm weather.