Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scuba Duba Doo

Deep-sea diver, Benjamin, is land-locked, and somewhat confused. He created a "scuba tank" out of a belt and plastic bat. He has his "snorkel mask", pilfered from his Daddy's ski gear. His "flippers are rather out of season. He has been asking us for real scuba gear, often (about every 5 minutes).

Ben demonstrated his scuba abilities by "catching" this rare "duck fish". His "ostagen tank" kept slipping and giving him a wedgie so, after several days of his scuba fascination growing, we decided to grant his wish.

We bought Benjamin his first "scuba gear with a mask and flippers".
The consignment store had this great "life-guard" suit for "diving". First, we will try it out in the kiddie pool.
Someday soon, maybe Daddy can break out his own snorkel set and show Ben how to look at the little fishes along the lake shoreline.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Summer Hike

Here is Ben at the Trail Head. His chosen hiking attire includes a pair of brown knit gloves. We couldn't convince him that he wouldn't need them on a 75 degree day. To his credit, they did pad his palms when he tripped a few times.
This is what Ben referred to as the "Grumpy Troll Bridge". He insisted on going across!  This is the mother/son safety briefing.
Trip trap! trip trap! Here we are on the other side! The water was very loud as it moved swiftly down the canyon. The bridge had a broken board in the middle and the walk across was a little scary (for Momma anyhow). Then, Ben shared with us that he, himself, was the grumpy troll!

Our little mountaineer threatened that he will be scaling hills, like the one in the background, someday (Gulp!).
We watched water skippers and found many nature treasures, such as a bright green beetle, an angry squirrel, shiny mica, brightly-colored wildflowers, flittering butterflies, ants carrying many times their own weight, horse dung, and a bird's nest!
The bird's nest was full of three eggs! It had been constructed three feet off the ground in this brush. I didn't get a look at the Momma bird that we accidentally startled out of it. The eggs were blue-green with brown speckles on them. I am marveling that it may be an actual Mockingbird nest! What do you think? (click here for info and photo comparison)
Ben is a great little hiker, full of enthusiasm and energy.... for a while. After about a mile and a half, Ben was spent. Being not-quite-four-years-old, he did pretty well.
Mom and Dad got a little better work out with helping Benjamin out. We want hikes to be a pleasant experience, so we will work on endurance as the season wears on. Most importantly, it was a ton of fun for all of us to be out hiking as a family. We had a blast!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Big Helper!

We had a package to mail to a friend for her birthday. "I will carry it, Mama!", said my big helper. It was a kind offer and he did a splendid job.
When I told him where the package was going, he said, "Oh, I know! I will take it to her house!". That is a very generous offer, since she lives an 8 hour drive away.
That night, he told us, "I'm Baker Ben. I'm coming to help you.". Then he came to the kitchen dressed and ready to work!
Guess what's for dinner, honey?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

That's What Happens...

Welcome back, Summertime! We are have been sooooo excited to be playing in the sunshine in bare feet!
When the sunshine is here we get to run around on cut green grass, chase butterflies, splash in the kiddie pool and eat our lunch and snacks in the shade of the porch umbrella!
However, when it is rainy outside, there's gonna be trouble! Rain/wind storms can put a serious hitch in your gittyup! Getting Mom to let you outside may require drastic measures. You may need a "Helicopter Blaster, Laser Mataizer, Stomping Boots and a Jet Pack Phooshing Fire"!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Good Bye, Butterfly!"

We had a great time watching our butterfly larvae grow and change into butterflies! We loved having them in our home as tiny roommates! We fed them everyday and watched them eat, fly, and rest. We will miss having their sweetness around.
It was so nice to have a such a long, leisurely, up-close look at their amazing, gentle, beautiful, features and movements. However, a Painted Lady butterfly only lives for up to one month. We shared a couple of days with them and it was time to let them go be outside.
Benjamin opened the pavilion and we said our "Good-Byes".
Being very familiar with us, they acted somewhat attached and many even needed some coaching about where to go. It was a neat experience.
They each hung around in our flower garden for several minutes and then flew away into the blue summer sky.

Metamorphosis Complete!

Just before the chrysalides prepare to hatch, they become very dark. However, they can stay that way for many hours and watched chrysalides do not hatch. I took this picture right before getting in the shower. When I got out and checked, the first butterfly was already out!

Once they climb out, they hang around to let their wings dry. Do not be alarmed at the red spot on the pavilion. They excrete the excess dye used to color their wings.
It was very exciting waiting for them to come out! We read about butterflies and looked up from our reading about every 30 seconds; we were on pins and needles.
Finally, the second butterfly began to emerge, right before our eyes!
The chrysalid began to quiver, and then out stretched some bright, beautiful little folded wings! 
Benjamin was riveted! We watch and watched, as they learned to fly. They ate our food with their long uncurled proboscis. They seem to enjoy it, but I think they will be much happier outside when we let them go.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who was that super guy?!

"Super Lightning Bolt Guy"!?
"Good Knight Sir Knight"!?
"Spider Star Man"!?
"Bumble Bee Buzzie Buzzer"!?
"Stomping Tyrannosaurus Rex Claws"!?
"Paleontologist Museum Digger Man"!?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Metamorphosis Update!

Our skinny little caterpillars didn't stay skinny, nor little, for long!
They ate and grew and shed their exoskeletons many times, over the course of seven to ten days. They were visually plumper every day when we checked on them!
While we watched the caterpillars and talked about what would happen to them, Benjamin climbed into his sleeping bag and pretended he was in a chrysalid.
Then Ben would pop out and pretend he was hatching out as a butterfly.
"Look! I have beautiful wings Mama!"
After seven days, we only had one straggler. Nine caterpillars climbed to the lids of their containers, hung upside down, and began to harden into chrysalides. While they were hardening they would wiggle around inside their covering. We read that this is a natural instinct to ward off predators. Also, as they hardened, a tiny nub of their bodies remained outside of the chrysalides and dropped off like a docked tail of a lamb. The chrysalides formed with a beautiful pattern of two rows of gold-tipped bumps.
Two days later, the last caterpillar joined the group. All of the caterpillars made it! We have ten chrysalides!
We bought flowers and oranges so we will be ready to prepare our butterfly habitat at the end of the week!
We transferred the chrysalides to the pavilion. They are hanging there, very still, secretly transforming. 
Ben is very excitedly waiting for the butterflies emerge!!!