Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taya's Flutter-ific Birthday Gift

For Taya's 4th Birthday, the girls wanted to get her something
I found an advertisement for a live butterfly garden & they LOVED that idea for Taya, so I ordered them.

When the package came I realized that this was TIME SENSITIVE material. Duh, Dani. If you're ordering REAL butterflies, of course you're going to get LIVE CATERPILLARS. I don't know what I was thinking when I ordered them a month before her birthday. We had to give them to her right away before the entire metamorphosis process happened.

Taya was SO in LOVE with her new caterpillar friends. She had five cute little friends in her package. We were SO excited to see how they become butterflies.

The kit also came with a pavilion to put the chrysalises in so they could hatch into an area where they could learn to fly. We were SO excited.

We watched for a whole week as the caterpillars ate & ate & ate & ate. They got SO BIG & FAT. It was crazy how they quadrupled in size in just 7 days. We went to LA for Labor Day weekend so we had to leave our friends at home while we were away. When we got back on Monday night, this is what we found:

Once the chrysalises are spun, we are supposed to remove them carefully from the jar & pin them to the size of the pavilion so they have lots of room to fly when they hatch as butterflies.

Well, when we looked inside the jar, there were 4 chrysalises hanging from the top. We frantically looked for the 5th caterpillar & found a chrysalis on the floor of the jar. He hadn't spun his chrysalis strong enough & it must have fallen while we were away. We were heartbroken. We safely got the other 4 chrysalises safely into the pavilion, but when we saw the 5th guy up close, we realized the chrysalis had broken open when it fell & the caterpillar was dead. You would have thought it was the end of the world. My girls were WAILING at the top of their lungs. Lorien was hyperventilating because she was crying so hard. They DEMANDED a proper burial for "Tasha." (I didn't realize they had named them.)

It was absolutely hilarious to watch them, but it was SO VERY SWEET too. I'm so grateful I have raised kids who are aware of life around them & the importance of every creature's life. They were grieving over a CATERPILLAR! Though that may seem ridiculous to most (& yes, I did laugh), it was SO SWEET to know they cared that much for such a little creature. We buried "Tasha" in our backyard.

This pictures says it all . . .

Well. . . about a week after the caterpillars made their chrysalises, we woke up to find them completely black in color. They had been grayish brown the entire week & then all of a sudden they were pitch black. I knew it was the day they would hatch. We were SO excited.

We wanted to make sure we saw it happen. The kids sat & stared at them for probably a half hour hoping one would emerge. I was such a mean mom & made them go get dressed for school because what were the chances they'd hatch in 3 minutes time? Of course one emerged while we were all getting dressed. We missed it! The kids were SO MAD at me.

So we sat & watched. Pretty soon it was time for school & the kids cried because they wanted to stay & see their butterflies. I PROMISED them I'd video tape them emerging so they could see it after school. None of them emerged while I took the kids to school so I sat & waited. I waited & waited & waited like a good mommy. But things had to get done! Craiger needed to be fed, so I went to grab him a bottle & as soon as I got back


So I sat & waited some more. Soon lunch came & I had to make sandwiches for my kids. I made them in lightning speed, but I was once again not fast enough. The 3rd butterfly was in the pavilion.

I started to panic. I HAD to video the last one or the girls were going to hate me forever. I sat & waited & waited & waited. Nothing. I sat for
Nothing. I was bored out of my mind! I had laundry to do, a house to clean, & kids to take care of. AAAAAAAAAAAAH!
I decided I'd run upstairs & grab a load of laundry, just praying nothing would happen. Half way up the stairs, I changed my mind & ran back to the pavilion. I was SO happy I did:

The last butterfly emerged & I got it on video for the girls. I am a good mom after all. :-)

The butterflies were beautiful. They were brown on the outside, but orange & black on the inside. We all watched them for hours. I put orange slices & carnations sprinkled with sugar water in the bottom of the pavilion for them to eat.

After 3 days it was time to let them go free into the wild. The girls (especially Lorien) were sad that we had to let them go, but it was fun to see how quickly they could fly in the open air.

Hooray for our four little friends. It was a FUN birthday present for the WHOLE FAMILY. We learned about life, love, & how to care for others. I would recommend it to ANYONE who has kids of any age. Happy Birthday Taya & thank you for sharing your gift with all of us.

Making Homemade Butter with the kids!

I have a SUPER FUN activity for you to do with your kids! My kids LOVE making
homemade butter
with me. It's REALLY easy & REALLY fun for the kids.

All you need to do is put some heavy whipping cream in a jar (baby food, jam, quart, any will work) &
"Shake it! Shake it, Shake it! Shake it like a Polaroid picture!"
The kids LOVE it. Within about 10 minutes you'll have a little ball of butter in your jar surrounded by some FABULOUS buttermilk for pancakes.

OR. . . if you just want to make the butter here is my tutorial from my recipe blog.

Have LOTS of fun!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Labor Day = Swimming Fun

Our last day in Los Angeles, we all went to a family friend's house to go
Yeah, I wish I had a pool in my backyard. This thing was HUGE for a house pool. It was GREAT.

We had SO MUCH FUN swimming & we had the whole pool to ourselves. It was perfect.

Bladen opted to fill the sandbox with water to make his own little Bladen Pool. SO CUTE.

It was a FANTASTIC Labor Day weekend. Thank you Oma & Opa for always making our visits SO magical.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The LA Zoo

It's always fun going to visit Opa & Oma's house. The minute we walk through the door they have
"Camp Potter"
all set up in their living room. They set up 5 tents for the kids & there is ALWAYS a special surprise waiting for them by their tent. This trip they had animal masks for each of the kids. They loved it!

So to keep with the "animal" theme, we decided to take the kids to the LA Zoo for our Labor Day Weekend fun. Good grief. Do you know how much it costs to get into the zoo these days? Don't ask.
You know your family is getting too big when it's cheaper for your family to buy a FAMILY YEAR PASS
than to buy individual tickets for one day. ha ha ha. We are LA Zoo members now. Yahoo.

The first exhibit we saw was the sea otters. Bladen was SO fascinated with the animals swimming past his little hands. He kept pointing at them & said "LOOK!" It was VERY exciting.

The kids loved the alligator, or as Bladen called it: the

They had fun little hands on exhibits around the zoo for the kids too. The girls were totally into the snakes. Lorien LOVED touching them. The animal handler tried to had a snake to Bladen for a picture & he jumped out of his skin & fell into the cage. It was hilarious! Poor kid was scared to death.

Bladen & Taya's favorite exhibit was the squirrel monkeys. Go figure. THEY are little monkeys so of course they're going to like the monkeys.

Taya got one of them really riled up. It was screaming at her & she was talking back to it. It was HILARIOUS. She would laugh every time it would yell at her & her laughter would make it even madder. I don't know what she did to upset him, but he didn't like her one bit.

Cadence was fascinated with the Rain Forest animals part of the zoo. She is studying the Rain Forest in Science right now & told me all about several of the animals in the zoo. She is like a walking sponge. She absorbs information like I did when I was her age. She is SO brilliant. She was most excited by the Harpy Eagle because that is her teacher's favorite animal. She HAD to get her picture taken with it to show Ms. Farmer.

Craiger is getting the cutest personality as he gets older. He wouldn't stop giggling in the monkey area. He was cracking up. What a cutie pie.

Opa & Oma were there with us & we had a blast. Oma bought all the kids snow cones (& we had bees following us the rest of the afternoon.). They are always SO fun to do things with. They love to spoil their grandbabies. We just love being with them.

Oma's favorite animal was this mountain goat. She grabbed my camera & took 38 pictures of him (no joke). I deleted most of them, of course, but I loved this shot she took. Great picture OMA!

Bladen wanted Daddy to hold him all day so he could see over the fences & gates. He realized that sitting on Daddy's shoulders made him pretty tall & he loved it.

Cadence & Lorien loved the gorilla. We sat & watched this guy for almost 20 minutes. He was HUGE & he seemed to love having us there. The girls couldn't get enough of him.

I'm SO grateful to have such happy, well-behaved kids. They had SO MUCH FUN at the zoo & they were SO good there. We spent over 4 hours walking around & they never even complained. I am so thankful we have these memories. It was a GREAT day.

Bladen was getting tired toward the end of the day & eventually fell asleep on Trek's head.

Then on our way out the front gate, Taya fell asleep too. It 's exhausting walking in direct sunlight in 100 degree temperatures for 4 hours straight. They were real troopers.

Thank you Opa & Oma for such a fun day. We love the LA Zoo & will be back soon.