June 20, 2012

I've got caterpillar poop in my laundry room

"Droppings" is probably a nicer word.

And "frass" is what it is technically called, I believe.  (Lest you think I'm that smart, allow me to introduce you to Google. It's amazing what you'll learn when you are looking for something else.)

Either way, I didn't realize monarch butterfly caterpillars needed to ...... ummmm...... relieve themselves in that way.....that much.  Maybe there's a lot of fiber in milkweed. And the stuff - the frass, not the milkweed - is like teeny, tiny rocks. Apparently, whatever "milk" is in the milkweed is absorbed and used because no moisture is finding it's way to the frass (what a great word, really).

It all started when I spotted them at the park - two fat little monarch caterpillars munching away on a lone stalk of milkweed growing in a crack in the cement by the bathrooms. I wanted to show my kids the pretty things - so much more charming than the disgusting, hairy army worms we find here and there.

I didn't want to disturb them from doing what is their primary mission in that stage of their lives - eating, eating, eating nothing but milkweed, and I realized this was the opportunity I had been looking for to watch with my kids the monarch butterfly metamorphosis. So I pulled up the whole stalk of milkweed and excitedly pointed out the chunky striped creatures to my kids and the friends they were playing with.

After a few close encounters, we managed to get the helpless larvae home without killing them; they even survived multiple fingerings from eager preschoolers.  I then rigged up a monarch caterpillar/butterfly home. I didn't want to buy a monarch kit/home thing (and I didn't realize how little time I actually had left of the larva stage), so a suggestion of a friend who shares my frugal thinking had me retro-fitting the husband's travel laundry bag. It turned out quite well, and hung nicely in the laundry room - hence all the droppings there.

Before very long, and in a much shorter time than I thought (I was worried I wouldn't be able to supply them with enough fresh milkweed), we had 2 beautiful little green chrysalises, and that's how they stayed for over a week.....

......when I realized one night before falling asleep that we were leaving on a family business trip and would be gone when they would likely hatch. I would either have to take them with me or find a sitter........ for my pupae......so the new butterflies wouldn't starve to death.

Really. The things I get myself into.

The morning of our departure arrived and I knew the husband would think I had completely lost it if I tried to pack along my chrysalises. So off to my mom's they went (so now it's just my dad that thinks I'm nuts, which is much better than my husband thinking I'm nuts - or more nuts than he already does) and sure enough, morning two of our trip found the first one hatching ...... and my mother likely over-caring for the poor thing.

We're hoping to catch the hatching of the second one before I return my husband's laundry bag to him...after I clean out all the frass of course.

{Wouldn't this post be better if I had taken some photos?}

June 11, 2012

The Things We Love {May & June}

Just a few of the things I love around here this time of year....

Bouquets of Lily of the Valley from the neighbor lady and my little girl scenting up the dining room

The way these two look forward to this every week. You and I may never understand it.
(For those of you who get freaked out by kids riding on mowers, they are seat-belted together and to the mower. Also, Daddy is wearing ear protection, too - the small expensive Matco-branded kind.)

Quiet early morning coffee and reading on the deck

Freshly picked wild asparagus (of course we love the stuff out of our patch, too, but it tastes just a little bit better when I beat the entire county to picking it out of the ditch)

{no photo - we ate it up too fast}

The first berries out of our garden for the year

 Beach towels drying on the deck

Blooming Peonies
{no photo - the blasted wind stripped the last of the petals off before I got out there with my camera}

Bouquets of wild flowers gracing our table

Impromtu naps. It's just always a shame I have to end them early in order to avoid even more bedtime procrastination.

Handfuls of freshly picked spinach out of the garden in our morning smoothies (along with the very last of last year's berries.

June 7, 2012

And now she's scarred for life...

It was too windy to make the 20+ min drive to the big lake worth it.  There would be no escaping the nearly 40 mph gusts at our dear 13th largest lake in Minnesota.

But we wanted to do just a little fishing with the kids.

So we took them to the river in town. We found a few clear spots in the weeds along the bank, baited hooks, and filled cup holders with popcorn. (In case you didn't know, fishing and eating are very closely related activities. Pretty sure it's impossible to do the former without the later.)

We casted and waited, the adults not really expecting to catch anything. Jack-Hammer kept repeating that "you need to be wiwwy pwa-tient when you fish." 

And I completely agreed, which is why I didn't move from my spot in the sun on the grass when Ava matter-of-factly reported that her "bobber was dunking."

Eventually the words she was saying with a now-hilarious mixture of dryness and amusement over what she thought was her bobber just deciding to dunk on its own (really, we have taken her fishing before), sunk into our adult brains and we realized she had a fish on.

It was all very exciting as we ran to her side urging her to "reel it in! reel it in!"

To our knowledge, she's never actually caught a fish with her pole, and we're not entirely sure if she's ever reeled in a fish before on someone else's pole. That job usually goes to Jack. So maybe it was really seeing and feeling first hand what it's like to pull a fish in out of the water, or maybe she was expecting a pretty little sunfish or perch.......whatever it was, the poor little girl burst into tears when Daddy reached down and pulled up her line to reveal a slimy, spiny-whiskered bullhead.

I just wanted a picture with her first fish, but there was no way she was getting close enough to the bullhead for mom to take her picture - especially when mom was shooting with the 50 mm. I would have had to run all the way out to the road to get them both in the frame.

She tried to creep closer for a look but any motion by the fish sent her running and crying the other direction. It was hilarious and weird all at the same time. My girl, who loves catching and holding worms and toads, running in terror away from a bullhead.

So brother Jack got to touch the fish and we let the ugly thing go. He then insisted on fishing in Ava's spot "cuz that's where Ava caught a fish."

We got everybody's lines back in the water and cup holders re-filled with popcorn and settled back down to "wait wiwwy pwa-tient-wy."