Thursday, June 21, 2012

A New Fave

I heard this song on the radio this morning and just fell in love with it. I love the sound and after listening to it a dozen times, I fell in love with the words too. I just had to share...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

From Caterpillars to Chrysalis to Butterflies!

For Easter this year we gave the girls something I have been wanting to get them for a couple of years now - a butterfly habitat! 

We sent off for our caterpillars on Easter night. After what felt like forever, our caterpillars arrived on May 23rd. There was a little note inside the package telling us our three tiny caterpillars were born on May 14th. To give you some idea of scale, the plastic cup in which our caterpillars (with their food included) arrived were probably around 4 oz. in size. 
Caterpillar May 23rd

We watched them everyday eat and crawl, eat and crawl - and grow and grow at what I found to be a freakishly fast rate. We would take a peak at them in the morning while eating breakfast and by the time we checked on them again around dinnertime, we could actually see a difference in their size. It was really beginning to weird me out.
Caterpillar on May 29th
Caterpillar just 2 days later!! On May 31st

Our directions informed us that in about two weeks our caterpillars would form their chrysalis. On June 3rd when we checked our caterpillars, we were so surprised to find a chrysalis hanging from the lid of the cup. Within a couple of days, a second caterpillar was hanging from the lid in the shape of a "j" and by the afternoon we had watched the caterpillar form its chrysalis. It was very cool! Our 3rd little caterpillar, who had been on the slow side with his growth, was a bit behind the other two with his chrysalis too. Finally, just a week ago, on June 12th, he formed his chrysalis.
Our first chrysalis and our second caterpillar, about to be in "j" formation!
Our second caterpillar, in "j" formation. This photo was taken in the morning.

The same caterpillar from above, just a few hours later that day. Incredible!

I was getting anxious about this last little caterpillar for a couple of reasons. For one, our directions told us to remove the paper liner from the cup on which the chrysalis were hanging on the 3rd day (they are really fragile the first couple of days) and to pin the paper to the inside of the butterfly habitat. The butterflies typically break free from their chrysalis within a week so by the time the last caterpillar had changed, it was time for our first butterfly to emerge. I flipped out slightly on last Tuesday when I went to remove the paper liner with three chrysalis to find a butterfly inside the cup!!
Our Painted Lady butterfly!

Butterfly wings need a day to dry completely before they can fly so fortunately I was able to get the new butterfly, as well as the paper liner with remaining two chrysalis into the butterfly habitat without incident. It was stressful though!
The larger butterfly was the first caterpillar to transform. This is the day of release for butterfly #1!

On the day our 2nd butterfly emerged we set free the first butterfly. The girls and I really got excited to watch our butterfly flutter away. Yesterday we set free our second butterfly and now we are just waiting for this last little guy to make his way out, which should be in the next couple of days.
Just waiting on our last little guy.

This little project has really been a crazy and cool experience. To watch our little caterpillars grow and grow and then transform into something so different and so beautiful - well it has actually given me a new appreciation for nature (and for the "Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar" book by Eric Carle!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Haircuts

A month or so ago when I took the girls for haircuts I had decided it was time to get more than just a little trim for Samantha. Her baby fine hair was getting pretty long and difficult to style.

Before (curled with a curling iron for ballet pictures)...
and after...
Definitely a big improvement. What is amazing to me is that now a month later, I have kept her hair short but it appears to be so much fuller and thicker.

At the time we just trimmed Gabrielle's hair. I knew she wanted to be able to put her hair in a bun for her dance recital so I had to keep some length on it. She was disappointed and really wanted her hair short like Samantha's (I typically cut Gabrielle's hair shorter for the summer anyway. She has so much hair and it gets tangled so easily!)

Gabrielle with her trim...
This week I took her back to get the short cut she wanted...
Very cute I think!

When I was expecting each of my girls I had really hoped one of them would get curly hair from me. Neither of them did. Samantha's hair has the slightest little bit of body when it dries on its own but for the most part, they both have pretty straight hair. Now they are older and I have to wash, brush and style it everyday I am really happy they didn't get curly hair! I think curls on little girls are just beautiful but I also know how aggravated I get with my hair and how when I was growing up - and even many days now - I would have loved to have wash and go hair, straight, smooth and shiny, not this frizzy coarse hair I have now. God knew what He was doing when He chose to not grant me my request of little girls with curls. I wouldn't want them to be any other way than they are - my beautiful little girls!

More Lake Photos

All of the photos from my previous lake post were taken on my phone. I realized yesterday I still had photos from our lake trip on my regular digital camera.

The sleeping arrangements for the kids - or at least the arrangements we attempted. On our second night the mattresses were moved in front of a television so they could lay down while we were cooking dinner and they were never moved back. Some of the kids got up in the middle of the night and ended up in various places.

 Gus has an inflatable "jet ski." It is really cute and goes extremely slow - so that no one can escape I suppose. This little captain was begging all of the girls to go for a ride. Finally at the end of the day the two little ones, the three year olds decided to give it a go. Gus was taking them on a ferry ride. He went out a little further than he had been going on his own which made me a little nervous. But boy were they cute. And Gus really was such a good little captain, making sure his passengers were okay.

Little Miss Bridgette meanwhile was doing what every beginner walker does - toddling from here and there, climbing in the chair, and out, back in the chair and out again.

This is the night the mattresses got moved to the tv area. The kids had played so hard all day. This is the night Samantha fell asleep at 5:30 before she could even eat dinner. She rolled off the mattress onto the floor in a crack between two mattresses. I put her back on her bed and when I checked on her a little later she had rolled off the other side of the mattress back onto the floor! I moved her once again and there she stayed until 6:00 the next morning. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

At the Lake

The girls and I spent a few days at High Rock Lake with my friend Casey and her kids this past week. It was so nice to just get away and relax a little. The weather was beautiful. The kids all were excited to see each other and had a great time playing together. 

We would play all day on the deck, in the yard, but mostly in the water. The kids were so tired by the end of the day inevitably at least one them fell asleep before we could get dinner done.

Casey and I stayed up most nights, not too late, but just a little later than the kids, enough time to straighten up some and to chit chat. It was really nice.

And while Casey and I try not to go too long between getting together with and without the kids, it was definitely a treat to hang out for a few days. My girls really warmed up, gave up the shyness, and were really themselves around Casey (in both good ways & bad!! Ha!). And I felt like her cuties were more comfortable around me too. It brought smiles to both of us I think to see their little personalities and to also see them all play and get along so well.

 Casey's husband arrived Friday night and Ed came for just the day on Saturday. The picture above and below are sweet little Bridgette on the jet ski for the first time with her daddy. She just turned one in May. I could not believe how relaxed and chilled she was about being on the noisy jet ski out in the water.
 The Daddy's did some fishing off the pier with the kids. Gus was super excited. Anna seemed just okay with it - not nervous but not overly excited either. My girls were a whole different story. After Gus caught his first fish and my girls saw it flippin' and flappin' all around, they completely freaked out. Samantha would not come near the pier. Gabrielle barely held onto the rod once. She caught a fish but as soon as Ed held it up to her for her to see, she completely lost it again!!

 And this is little Bridgette again, making a complete mess of her lunch. In the picture above she is turned around laughing at the older kids. She was such a little copy cat and always got such a kick out of the older kids. So cute!
On Sunday morning we went to church service at the lake. The Methodist churches formed the High Rock Lake Ministry. Every summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day, they hold church service under a shelter on the lake. An intern from Duke Divinity comes each summer. There is nothing like attending church early Sunday morning, sitting outside where you can see, hear and feel all of the beauty God created. I absolutely love it!

After such a nice weekend, I will admit it is difficult to get back to reality - laundry, dirty dishes, cooking, errands, work - all of the day to day normal stuff and responsibilities. But I'll just have to manage through it and keep in my mind looking forward to our next little summer get away.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Garden

I have many, many fond memories of my Daddy's garden. It seemed to expand and get larger and larger each year. I think with every dinner during the summer, regardless of the main dish, we had sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper and sliced cucumber in just a little bit of water (or vinegar for Mama) and salt and pepper. Mama canned the green beans which I think always lasted until the next year's crop. Eggplant, peppers, squash and zucchini were regulars although when I was little I foolishly thought I didn't like such vegetables (man was I missing out!). 

Now as an adult and a momma myself I dream of having a garden of my own.

Now my Daddy put a lot of blood, sweat and probably tears into that plot of earth year after year. I don't expect my garden will ever reach the status of my Daddy's. One year he planted sunflowers along the outside and these sunflowers grew to be probably 10-12 feet tall with the center of the flower probably a good 12" in diameter. And no, I am not exaggerating. Ed and one of his friends accused me of exaggerating once until I searched for the photos to prove it and they were amazed. Ha, that'll teach them!! But oh how I dream of a summer of having the girls help me harvest our tomatoes, cucumber and such. Maybe they can sit on the porch with a big bowl and snap beans for me like I did for Mama. Fresh baked zucchini bread with zucchini we grew ourselves. Our sides for dinner each day would be determined on what we pulled from our backyard that morning.

One day.

I had hoped we could at least start our little garden this year but with our rocky, clay backyard it is going to take a lot of prep work that we just did not have the time or the money for this year. Instead of having nothing at all I decided I would at least do a small container garden this year. I went to the local herb festival and picked up basil, mint, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, dill and even an heirloom tomato plant. I bought a patio tomato as well as a cherry tomato plant from Lowe's while I was there getting my ever favorite Gerbera Daisies. Oh, and just for kicks I got a red pepper plant.

I am very pleased with how my garden is going so far. The plants are all getting big. I have had to harvest the herbs faster than I can even use them to keep the plants from flowering and getting too tall and lanky looking. I have a few blossoms on all my tomato plants and will probably be picking my first cherry tomatoes within a matter of days. 

I actually still have a few things to plant. In the beginning of May I added onto my weekly produce box a Three Sisters Garden kit for the girls. In it came seeds for a sugar baby watermelon, Sungold tomatoes, a yellow crookneck squash, Cherokee Long Ear popcorn and some Pole beans. The corn, beans and squash are all planted together to work together making an American Indian Three Sisters Garden. The corn stalk works as a pole for the beans, the beans add nitrogen to the soil that the corn needs, and the squash keeps the soil moist with its leaves. It seems very cool and I think the girls would love having their own little garden to tend. We were suppose to start the planting process the middle of May so we are a couple of weeks late. If I can think to pick up some more soil, we'll do it this weekend though and maybe we'll end up with just a late harvest.

The girls also picked out some flower seeds. They love to pick flowers for me (i.e. weeds) and I love fresh cut flowers in the house. My idea was to have a small flower garden of various flowers good for cutting - wildflowers, daisies, sunflowers. Maybe we can get those planted this weekend as well. I just cut and brought in a bunch of hydrangea blooms yesterday for our kitchen table centerpiece. They are all various shades of blue. I just love them! I hate that by the end of June the blossoms will be gone.

But I shouldn't complain too much about them. My hydrangeas were a Mother's Day gift from Ed three years ago, right after Samantha was born. They have thrived where he put them. I water them just a little every morning to prevent them getting too droopy by the midday summer heat. No fertilizer, nothing. And they are now as tall as the deck. They are absolutely enormous!

Maybe next year we can have our little plot of earth ready to try out a few plants anyway. If we start now with the frame building, digging up some of the clay and bringing in some good topsoil then we can mulch and fertilize the garden through the fall and winter and maybe by spring we'll have it ready. Until then I'll continue to take pride in my little container garden.