Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Science with Milky Way

Saturday night I inspected my in-laws milkweed plants in hopes of finding some monarch butterfly caterpillars.  I was excited to find some!  We took the largest one home, gave it a comfy bedroom/kitchen instead of a gold fish bowl.  Gave it a twig, since it was fairly good size and I thought might be ready to make a chrysalis soon. 

He molted the first night!  Here he is.  Isn't he cute!?  Look at that hole he ate!  Gives new meaning to "The Very Hungry Caterpillar!"

Milky Way eating

Here's a picture of a day he got to sunbathe a bit:
Milky Way outsideHis head is on the right.  See his six pointy little legs up near his head?  The ones in back are false legs called prolegs.  The antennae-like things are sense organs.

Anyway, the girls named him Milky Way.   We gave him fresh milkweed and cleaned out his home everyday.  He seemed rather happy in his new home.  Until today.

Today was a bad day.  First, he had a visitor in his home--an unwelcome one.  An eentsy-weentsy spider.  The spider seemed to bite him a couple times!  The spider jumped on him and then a few seconds later Milky Way suddenly jerked toward the spider, as if it had bite him! 

I killed the spider.  I took Milky Way out to see if he was OK.  When I touched him, he didn't even move.  So, I touched his antennae-like thingies on his head and he moved it a tiny bit.  I don't know if he was paralyzed or playing dead!

Later, he seemed to recover and went back to munching.   We took him to our co-op meeting with us.   The girls ended up going home with a friend, so poor Milky Way had to ride alone in the back seat on the floor. 

On the way home, I kept an eye out for milkweed--our supply was quickly diminishing!  I thought I spied a patch, so I hit the brakes to turn into a driveway.  And poor little Milky Way tumbled up to the front seat.

He was clinging to the net that covered the top of his bowl.  I had covered the top with a piece of potato bag.  I knew the holes were large enough for him to get through, but I made sure his stick wasn't up so high, so he couldn't reach it.  Except today.

I stopped at my in-laws house to scrounge up some more milkweed and while I was talking to them, Milky Way got out of Dodge.  Guess he decided he'd had enough of this mad woman driver and he was cutting his losses.

I searched the van for a long time, but alas, he's gone.  I even placed some milkweed on the floor in case he could smell it and would be attracted to it.  (Can caterpillars smell?).  I'm going to go out one last time tonight and see if he's there.  Otherwise, I guess I'll assume he crawled out a window and hopefully has found another milkweed plant to munch on.

Vaya con Dios, Milky Way.  I hope you make it to Mexico.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ever had a kid wake you up at 5:00 a.m. to do school?!


Last night I learned on the Five in a Row boards (thanks, Sheila!), that there would be an total lunar eclipse early this morning.  Here's how it would go:


Here's a picture of the full moon that I took before going to bed:

Full Moon

So, anyway,I told Elizabeth that if we got up in the morning, we'd watch it.  I set my alarm for 4:40 and went to sleep.   A little after 5:00 a.m., Elizabeth wakes me up, saying it's time!   I had forgotten to turn my alarm on!

We went outside, but the moon had already gone down into the tree line of the hill behind us.  So we went for a drive!  

We got to watch it until it went full eclipse.  Here are a couple pictures I took:



Next time I need to remember to take the tripod, so I can let the shutter stay open longer!

We came back home to get dh off to work and also woke up my younger daughter.  We headed back out to view the rest, but it was a bit foggy and moonset had occurred, so we never saw it again.

What a great way to start school! 

Thank You, Lord, that we are able to homeschool and take advantage of such times!  Thank You, too, that the girls are eager to see Your wonders.  Also, thank You, for the FIAR board, where I often learn about such great opportunities!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This one's for Ely

Ely inspired me to try to learn more about my little saying that can be found under my picture and in the signature of my emails and on message boards.  The "Dust if you must" quote.

My husband's dear aunt received one of those forwarded emails that go 'round and 'round in Cyberspace.  In it were the words

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
music to hear and books to read,
friends to cherish and a life to lead.

Knowing my fondness (ahem, uh, addiction  ) of books and the dust bunnies in my home (more  ) that I chase once in awhile, she knew I'd love it.  She was right.

Well, Ely in Chicago (who also hangs out on the FIAR message board) asked me about it today.  Had I made it up?   Isn't it lovely when people think you could be so talented as to write a poem?    It did promp me to google, to see if I could find an author.

Most websites said "Author Unknown," but I did find one that listed an author.  It also listed the entire poem.

Here's what I came up with.

Dust if You Must
by Patsy Clairmont

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed
Ponder the difference between want & need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb

Music to hear and books to read

Friends to cherish and life to lead

Dust if you must, but the world's out there

With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair

A flutter of snow, a shower of rain

This day will not come round again

Dust if you must, but bear in mind

Old age will come, and it is not kind

And when you go and go you must

You, yourself, will make more dust

Even more to ponder, huh? 


I'd appreciate prayers for my mom.  Her Interstitial Lung Disease is out of remission and active again.  I don't recall her ever being so bad as this time.  She wheezes just walking across the room.

The doctor put her on oxygen yesterday.  Her sats were so bad (83%) that the medical supply company came out and installed the machine/tanks about 4 hours after we got home from the doctor.

She has a bunch of tests in September.

It's doubly hard to watch all this....not only is it my mom, but I have the same disease and so it makes me think how I will likely be some day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Backing up my blog!

When I recently started blogging, I was really looking for a way to chronicle our daily activities.  Not that the world cares (we're too boring!), but for me.  Since my first was born, I said I was going to write things down so we didn't forget.  Well, my oldest is almost 10 and I haven't done much of that yet. 

I was greatly disappointed when I set up my blog that I could find no way to "back it up."  Well, I figured out a way.  For the most part.

I was really looking for a way to automatically be told when there's a new entry to read on a friend's blog.   (Hi, Ami!)    I had recently updated my email program (Mozilla Thunderbird and recalled seeing something about RSS in the new stuff.  So, while poking around Ami's site, I saw "My Blog's RSS."  

I went to the help section in Thunderbird and read up on what an RSS is and how to set one up.  Then, I created one for Ami's site.  

My email program now goes out and checks every couple hours to see if she's updated it and then emails me the text of it when it does find an update.  What it also did was to email me each of Ami's already existing entries. 

So, putting two and two together , I subscribed to my own blog.  Now I have a separate email of each of my entries.  These emails do not contain any pictures or graphics, and it lumps the text of the entry into one paragraph, but at least I now have a searchable "diary" on my computer!     It will be nice at the end of each school year to print them out and put in the year's binder.

Y'all may already know this or maybe you already know a way to back up your own entries, but I was excited to figure this out.  If you know of a better way, please holler!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Catching up and the Zoo

We did recently go to State Fair for dd10's 4H (birds) project.  While, she did not place there, we did learn a lot.  We went in with the expectation that she would be answering the judge's questions about her project.  In reality, she was expected to give a presentation that would hopefully answer any question the judge might have.  But we had a good time.......draft and Gypsy Vanner horses, hand made crafts, a huge slide, ski lift view, and more!

Yesterday, we *finally* made it to the Zoo!  We've only been trying since June!  We had a great time.   We got to touch sting rays--they are so soft!!!!   Oh, instead of telling you all that we saw, I'll show you some pictures instead!


I've always used the word "nit-picking" to refer to the times I'm writing a unit (for Homeschool  and keep making little changes, when I really just need to be done with it.

Well, for the past week the term has taken on a whole  new meaning--albeit it's original intended meaning.  Yep, we've got lice.    Eewwwww!!!!   Fortunately, it doesn't seem to have spread beyond dd7.   We used non-Toxic lice treatment (Licex) and have been washing the bedding/brushes daily.  We have also been using Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Oil shampoo, which is supposed to help.   We're seeing less and less!

It took me days to figure out where she might have gotten it.  I think I finally figured it out:  DD7 tried on some hats a store.  Certainly makes you never want to try on a hat again!  

Friday, August 10, 2007

We're off!

To the State Fair.  DD10 got State Fair for one of her 4H projects!  At least the storms that came through yesterday cooled it down a bit!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oh, the laughs of homeschooling

So, we're sharing the unit for Rocks in His Head this week.   We had discussed the Stock Market Crash of 1929. 

Today I asked "What happened that made the family move?"  My oldest daughter get this big "I know the answer" look on her face and pipes up with "Because the flea market fell!" 

Seem right, doesn't it, as we do spend more time at flea markets than stock markets!

Did you hear? HomeSchool Share has updated!

HSS launched the results of their annual "Back to School Blast" Contest!!!   47  brand new units and over 100 more resources to use with either HSS units or with Five in a Row (FIAR) units!  There are now almost 200 free units and tons of resources at HSS!  And everything's free!!!

If you've haven't considered using Five in a Row, do so!  You won't regret it.  It's an awesome curriculum that is easy to use, fun, and the kids learn sooo much!  And the cost won't set you back like some curriculum!  If you enjoy snuggling with your kids and reading aloud to them, this is the way to go.  If you want to light a fire of loving learning in your children, this is the way to go!  It's a small investment with huge returns!

Learn more at:  FIAR

We celebrated the unveiling yesterday by starting our week of sharing Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst, one of the new units at HSS.  My oldest loves rocks--almost as much as the father in this story!

We completed the Social Studies lessons, learning about Henry Ford, the Model T, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and The Great Depression.   We also discussed how Jesus is our Rock.


They get your hopes up, then let ya down!  Three months ago the doctor said if my blood work remains well, I could stop my current (and for now, only) medication at my next visit.  Today was that visit.

He's being cautious.  Instead of yanking me off of it altogether, he's going to take me down by one pill every 2 months. I currently take 6 of those nasty tiny things, so that means it will be a year before I'm completely off! Sigh...... Oh well, to borrow Pollyanna's game, I'm glad he's decreasing it instead of increasing it!

For those who don't know, three years ago I was diagnosed with Dermatomyositis (DM), a rare auto-immune disease that affects the skin and the muscles.  At the same time, I was also diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). 

With steroid and cancer medications, the ILD was put into remission quickly.  The DM, however, was not.  I spent three months mostly on the couch, relying on the strength of my Lord to get up the stairs once a night to bed.  Lifting a gallon of milk out of the fridge door was barely doable.  I became exhausted just getting dressed and/or brushing my hair (I had not the strength to keep my arms lifted up that long.)  I lost half my hair from the meds and the stress.  Baths were out of the question; I fell in and could not get back out.  Homeschooling was little more than teaching my girls to have compassion and do housework.  We did manage to do some Five in a Row on my better days.  Gotta love a curriculum you can do from the couch!   

But, by the God's amazing grace, I survived (am surviving!) that storm of life.  He gave me Isaiah 43......Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine......I will be with you!  He also gave me 2 Corinithians 12:10.... for when I am weak, then am I strong.

I almost made remission with the DM last summer, but it started to flare (probably due to be in the sun too much) and so we changed medications. 

The medication I'm currently taking is also a cancer drug, and as such it can cause nausea and vomiting, cold sores, fatigue, weakened immunity, etc.  I've been lucky, I've only had the nausea and fatigue and reduced immunity.  But I'm waiting, albeit some days not so patiently, for the day the DM is also in remission.  But I know the Lord has plans and that his ways are not  mine, and I so I'll trust in Him and continue to wait.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Noah's Lost Ark

On Friday, August 3, we started our school year by going to an animal sanctuary called Noah's Lost Ark.   It's so unbelievable to hear about what people have done to these animals! Seeing the before pictures for these animals was heart-wrenching!  It was beautiful however to see the animals healthy (albeit some where emotionally and physically scarred from their previous owners), active, and seemingly well-adjusted and happy.  

Here are a few pictures:

Tiger playing in the waterIt was so hot!  The tigers *loved* having the
water sprayed on them!

Tiger up  close
Lazy Days of Summer

A Zorse, of course!I'm a ZORSE, of course!  A zebra and horse mix.
See my stripes?

Cappy, the Lonely CamelCappy the Lonely Camel

Bad hair day?The humidity makes for such
bad hair days!