Tuesday, September 30, 2008


On a walk to pick up the car from the mechanic, we occupied ourselves on the unusual route with finding lots of things to add to the nature tray. We stuffed them all in my purse (including two cicada exoskeletons, both of which got a little smooshed).

Bastian carried one of the exoskeletons for a bit and kept talking about how he was "sleeping." Then he stole a rock from the stone-scaped treelawn in front of someone's house and made that the thing's bed. Unfortunately, it kept falling off, which slowed our journey down considerably (the time and walking with two children and having to get there before the place closed made this an issue), so I eventually convinced him to put both the rock bed and the sleeping dude in my purse (gently, on top). Still, smooshing occurred, though by the time we took everything out again, he'd forgotten entirely about it. We gatered all kinds of berries, seeds, and small flowers, which were all forming since Autumn is here. The colors were gorgeous and the variety on this trip was greater than our usual walks.
We found some unfamiliar nuts too.
Who knew there were so many varieties of crabapples?
* Pink Flowering: Adams, Indian Magic, Sugar Tyme
* White Flowering: David, Donald Wyman, Red Jade, Red Jewel, Sentinel, Spring Snow (fruitless), Snowdrift, White Angel, and Zumi
* Red Flowering: Centurion, Indian Summer, Prairiefire, Red Barron, Red Splendor
I don't even know what kinds are here...
Interesting seed pods of all shapes and sizes...
More bark, different from the other samples we have.
Interestingly, when we finally got back home, Papa was there and announced that he had gathered something for the Nature Tray on his walk home. A gorgeous Blue Jay feather! We had seen a Blue Jay in someone's yard on our walk as well. For awhile, we had three circling our house regularly, hanging out in the trees above the compost pile.
When the fruit flies started to eat the juiciest berries we'd collected, I decided to dehydrate all of them in the oven. I placed them all on a sheet of wax paper on a cookie tray on 200° (our lowest setting) for several hours while I sewed a quilted Mandala for my friend's upcoming Croning ceremony.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Making Art/Making Crazy

During a completely lazy, yet somehow magically stressed-out day when the house was trashed and I had too many things to do, I took a hint from The Artful Parent to make melted crayon suncatchers as though this would somehow release me (and the children) from the chaos, tension, and emotional nightmare of our day.

So I grated old crayons.
And the children arranged the shavings in sheets of folded wax paper.
And sort of mixed them altogether in a huge mess where many got smooshed into our floors, where now there are assorted spots of varying shades.
At first, I set the wax paper on the stove because the oven was on. I left it too long and black wax melted onto my enameled cooktop.
Then we tried the iron (between two sheets of plain white paper) with worse results.
Then I lowered the setting on the iron and it didn't melt so well.
Then we began to get things right with a slightly elevated temperature on the iron.
A little too long in the ironing...
And perfection reached at last.
I'm not sure that I wouldn't have to feel out the temperature settings all over again if I tried this project in the future. The kids lost interest in arranging after awhile, so any more would likely not happen and doing it again would probably result with a similar pass/fail ratio. They are now taped in two strips in front of the window above the boys' table in the dining room.

The whole experiment made quite the mess (it is a shame we don't have more space here for all of our projects - it would solve so much) and I was all stressed out anyway, so this didn't really help. I also have a tendency to boss too much, which is problematic and likely why the kids lose interest in all my activities so quickly. I am working on my mood.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is it?

Aleks says it could be glass. Or butts.
What do you think?


Saturday morning, we discovered the first of our chrysalids had hatched and a little Painted Lady sat still on the mesh of the Butterfly Bungalow. I think she had just emerged when we noticed because she started dribbling what I am told is meconium on the enclosure. It looks like blood, but is just the first waste, I guess. Much like baby meconium.
The boys gathered flowers, which we put in water and dribbled with sugar water to feed her. We were all terribly excited and watched for awhile.
The other chrysalids began to darken.

At one point, Bastian removed the pin holding up the sheet they were attached to, which caused them to fall and get scared. They shook rapidly back and forth, which is apparently a warning to predators to back the eff off.

Bastian loved his butterflies and spent lots of time looking at them.
When we went to bed that night, two of the chrysalids were growing quite dark, but had yet to emerge. I was sure we'd get to see them in the morning. When I checked at first, they were still in their shells, but after a couple of hours of me shlepping around, drinking coffee, and sitting at the computer, I checked back to see that then there were three.
I checked repeatedly the rest of the morning and missed the fourth emergence, but finally got a good look when the last little butterfly started to come out. It happens quicker than I'd expected, which is why this little guy is just trying to pry his little butterfly butt free of the chrysalid shell.
They have cute little elvin noses.
When I pulled back the lid of the bungalow to get better shots, I had to shoo Aleks and Bastian's hands away. I'm not sure if touching their fragile little wings is such a good idea. I was surprised at the dull browns and grays. With a name like Painted Lady, one expects something a little more dramatic.
Still the youngest crawls to freedom, flexing his wings, airing them out.
Then he begins to crawl up our yucky, meconium soaked paper.
His wings begin really fluffing out. We never got too good a look at them all wet and folded. They seemed pretty dry from the get-go.
Reminds me of Silence of the Lambs somehow...
Bastian, who still loves everything, loves his butterflies and hugged the cage to prove it.
Two afternoons later, Papa took the boys out while I hurriedly ran off to a board meeting to let the butterflies out. The guy at the toy store told us the weather would still be okay for awhile and we confirmed this with other butterfly sightings in the meantime, so we went ahead as planned rather than starting a butterfly farm of our own. I don't feel quite confident enough or mean enough to keep them indoors for their entire life cycle.
Bastian tried to pull the two that were mating apart. Jon managed to keep his fat little fingers off their delicate, er... dance.
The release:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grasshoppers Bite

Who knew that grasshoppers could bite? Or had mouths, for that matter? I suppose they must eat. I did dissect one in Bio 101 back in college, so I suppose I should know this, but I didn't really think of the biting a human potential. They do seem to have mouths. Maybe the paps hurt. At any rate...
Aleks found a grasshopper in the front yard. He did this last week too.
These are nice big ones. I've never seen such large grasshoppers in Cleveland before. Wonder what we were feeding them this year...
He held it there for awhile so I could get a good look. Then it bit him and he yelled, "ow!!!" and I had to help him pry the thing off his finger.
Then there was this goo left behind. We're a little wary of grasshoppers now. After the whole toad information I got the other day, I was really keen to wash the brown goo off right away lest it burn a hole in his finger.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stack of Stuff

Bastian builds a "Stack of Stuff" and loves it.

He loves everything lately. Ever since we weaned (3 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days), he's been loving on everyone and everything, apparently. He often hugs me for no reason and says, "I love you." He does the same with Aleks and Jon. He touches my face and says sweet things like, "I your boy," and "You my mom." It's kind of difficult when I'm trying to sleep and he's insisting that I kiss him on the lips again and again by holding my head and moving it for me. But it's still the sweetest thing ever.

Deep Search

Aleks gets a lot of mileage out of the new snorkel.

What a great use of $1.41.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I invited families from my local Attachment Parenting message board over for a playdate to give the kids other kids to play with and to get the moms out of the house. I did one last month too and might continue them through the winter. It's mostly younger kids now that school is back in session, which is a bit disappointing to Aleks. He always wants Jonas to come over, but Anna watches kids at her home and can't come visit during the day.

Aleks convinced me to buy this snorkel at the thrift store two evenings previous. At first I was disinclined due to not feeling like it would be used and trying to limit my thrift store purchases to what was really needed, but then I realized it'd be great in the costume box. So far, this assumption has been dead on. Bastian was wearing it before our guests arrive.
Remembering that I needed to feed the kids, I chopped up a bunch of finger foods and set them out. Aleks and Bastian made Salad People.
Bastian really found this fun.
Aleks is quite serious about constructing his monsters.
He used the grapes from City Fresh which do taste too sour for actually eating to create three eyes. His monster appears to have claws instead of hands and some extra appendages sprouting out of his arms, though I'm uncertain as to what precisely they were intended to be.
Bastian also used these sour grapes and made four eyes to Aleks' two. The faces are made of a plop of yogurt. Bastian's Salad Person's pasta hair appears quite beaky if you look at it right. Perhaps the crackers are wings.
One of the older children got a little bored, so I brought out some things for her to draw and paint. All of the children then had to participate, of course and a brief stint of painting took place. The main problem with this was seating them all and their remaining happy despite neighboring elbows. It seemed to mostly work out.
After the littlest children left, the older kids wanted to go outside to play. I brought out the rubber animals and dinosaurs and lizards to keep them occupied in the front of the yard as opposed to having to chase them around and around the house. They drew on the sidewalk with chalk and made the animals have lots of battles.
I loved the way they all looked in the sunlight and took lots of photos. This lizard was bought for me in Australia by family friends Marty and Dan when they were on their honeymoon 8 years ago. It's a Frilled Dragon and it's name is Leonardo "Jon" DiCaprio. I didn't name it. Marty really wanted to call it Leonardo DiCaprio, I think because she doesn't like Leo DiCaprio (maybe she's changed her mind now that he's the international spokesperson for global warming). We were also reading an article in the local free paper at the time where my step-father was referred to as Jim "Rev Cool" Carter, which is stupid because it should be Rev. Cool aka Jim Carter, no ridiculous quotation marks necessary. Because of that, Marty felt that Leo should have Jon as his middle name, after my dear husband and that the quotation marks must be essential since the pseudo-professional journalist insisted on the dang things. Plus it's just goofy. So whenever I tell people my Frilled Dragon's name, I use my hands to make quotation marks around "Jon." Very important.
This is Aleks' twenty dollar T-Rex he bought. He spent forty-six dollars on three dinosaurs. The jaws open on two of them and they really are quite high quality. I suppose now I'm thrilled he has a little less money to obsess about heading to the toy store with. His consumerism seems mostly sated for the time being.
I should remember these photos for making cards with later...

The day went quite smoothly, though I was exhausted at the end of it. I had to head out for a Mom's Night Out just a couple of hours later too. We accidentally got Anna's mom really drunk. Not that that has anything to do with unschooling...