Friday, August 14, 2015

From Egg to Imago

     I think I'm morphing into a crazy butterfly lady. How can that be? Last summer I couldn't distinguish a Monarch from a Checkered White or a Black Swallowtail but this year... I'm piqued by the faintest flutter on our Echinacea. Let me back up a bit.

     Yearning for a change of pace, we purposefully focused on nature over the summer. M is a naturalist at heart with a knack for remembering the names of almost everything we encounter. G is more of a "girly" girl; pretty much terrified of anything that has six or more legs. Hoping to quench the curiosity of the one and squelch the fears of the other, we started finding insects and identifying them. 

     We investigated pinning. I watched youtube to learn how to do this (you can learn how to do anything there), bought a butterfly net, ordered Entomology pins, and got started catching and killing insects.

     Granted, it was fun. We stalked them and madly swung the net. We trapped June Bugs, Japanese Beetles, and wasps. But when it came to capturing the butterflies, well...

Let the life story of the butterfly stand as a fascinating page of nature's book... To gain knowledge of the life story of insects or other creatures is nature-study. To destroy them as pests is a part of agriculture or horticulture. The one may be of fundamental assistance to the other, but the two are quite separate and should never be confused. The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. 

     Studying agriculture or horticulture was not part of our summer curriculum. And honestly, the insects are extremely beautiful when alive and not so attractive when they're dead.

                                                Now to continue with my butterfly saga.

     While visiting the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio early in the summer, I became enthralled with their butterfly room and we left with two Painted Lady caterpillars. One thing lead to another and... we discovered milkweed.

     I often had pulled this plant up with no knowledge of what it was, i.e., the ONLY thing a monarch caterpillar eats. So I began an incessant search for milkweed. Low and behold, we soon adopted two larvae.

     Here's what made me realize the extent of my craziness. Yesterday, while on my morning run and milkweed hunt, I found not one but three more of these beauties. Since I spotted them very early in my run, I wondered what to do. Should I continue on or immediately take them home, thus ending my outing about six miles shy? Listen. I treasure my wake up runs so I just took the little fellows with me. There I was, running through town, milkweed with clinging caterpillars in one hand, phone (for audio book and camera) in the other. It's good thing I run very early. I wouldn't want to hurt my husband's business. (You know, the crazy wife thing.)

     We now have two chrysalises and three larvae with voracious appetites and an unbelievable amount of poop! How in the world can we kill and pin these incredible creatures?

     Appreciating the beauty of pinned butterflies, we combined nature, art, and handicrafts creating vegan butterfly art. No life was taken. I came across this blog and tweaked it to make it our own.

~ We painted  small canvases with tempura paint. (8x10) The girls picked the colors they wanted,

~  printed out the butterflies on white card stock, and cut them out. We did not use an exacto-knife. FYI- Only one is a replica of an actual butterfly, the Checkered White. The others are combinations; still very beautiful.

~ Then we punched butterflies out of colored card stock,

~ and used a hot-glue gun to glue the punched butterflies onto the printed ones and then onto each canvas.

~ We also bent them up a little bit. I think they're lovely.


     G didn't even want to do this project, (that's the twelve year old in her), but she thoroughly enjoyed it. She's anxious to create another one. Deep down she knows that I occasionally come up with some cool stuff.

     In a couple of months, I will be closing the door on six decades of life. Whew. I've had my share of ups and downs through my life cycle of daughter, sister, wife, mother,  grandmother (Mimi), and now crazy old butterfly lady. All my eggs are hatched and several are now larvae; ingesting as much nutrition and ideas as they can in order to grow physically, intellectually, and spiritually. You've met two of my beauties. Please meet our newest little caterpillar.

      The rest of us are in various pupal and imago  stages, coming out of our chrysalises for awhile, only to flit back in.

Yours truly, 94 year old dad, awesome sister

      And yet I wonder...when do we really become butterflies?

I now know we each have two lives, the one we learn by and the one we live after that.  

Mutant Message Downunder by Marlo Morgan

Enjoy the butterfly art.

Linked up with Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - August 2015


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Since we're only here for a while...

     I spend a good bit of time in my head, yet none of my thoughts are original. Often I read someone else's words or see someone else's pictures and think, "Hey! That's what I'm talkin' about." Therefore, it was quite comforting to hear Andrew Pudewa, author of our writing curriculum, state that very few people have original ideas. Ideas usually come from previous sources. With that said, this post has numerous links, pictures, and quotes that you may choose to explore or ignore. I am one who appreciates uncovering suggestions and ideas published by people way smarter than I am. Maybe you are too.

     Years ago, I read a children's picture book that was extremely profound.  I'm often drawn back to it. Although it is written very simply, it reveals the secrets of enjoying a meaningful life.  This book, The Three Questions, is based on a short story of the same name by Leo Tolstoy. A few months ago, as summer was approaching, these questioned surfaced again.

When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?

     I was tired. Directing our local Classical Conversations community and teaching the English Grammar and Writing portion of this curriculum along with our own family's homeschool had taken its toll. And here it was summer. I've never actually taken the summer off from scheduled school work but this year... I needed a break. Even though that little voice inside of me warned of the dangers that neglecting our school routine might bring, we put away our lesson plans and decided to just live; to practice some masterly inactivity and to see what would happen. We've taken the days "as they come"  (one of M's violin bowing terms), making a conscious effort to do, learn, observe, and try something new everyday. By slowing down and giving each day including the people in them our full attention, life has taken on a different hue; one painted with a soft tone on a vibrant background. It has underscored the fact that my husband and I are our children's primary examples.

He stopped what he was doing and sat down on the steps. I sat beside him. It was one of the nice things about Mr. Robinson- he always gave you his full attention. 

The Tanglewoods' Secret by Patricia St. John

     Insects and butterflies are a few of the things that have come our way and we are learning how to pin them.  The other day, while prancing around my backyard with a butterfly net, it seemed obvious that I'd officially lost my mind, but in reality, I think I've finally found it! We have all improved our powers of observation, especially me. When we start up our lessons again, we'll dive deeper into "bug world" by implementing a science curriculum called Jack's Insects. I'm getting antsy to start.

   We've continued our nature journaling, pressed flower books, and have been regularly making entries in our commonplace notebooksOur nature journals have been a wonderful addition to our daily routine as have our commonplace books. I discovered that by incorporating journaling into our lifestyle we are developing higher thinking skills, handwriting, research methods, comprehension, retention, and drawing techniques. Our commonplace books are different for each of us. G uses hers to copy choice passages (with her special colored Sharpies) from the books she's currently reading. I do the same but include a running list of vocabulary words with their definitions (always trying to get smarter), and I also jot down my passing thoughts, none of which are original, remember? M copies passages and records lists of birds we see. We all keep track of the books we read.

     We're also crafty. These projects not only are fun to do but the girls learn how to follow directions, figure out what supplies are needed, improve dexterity, develop some excellent skills, sharpen their focus, and finish with splendid creations including sixteen pointed stars, vases for dried lavender, felt birds, a pillow,  origami butterflies, and lotus flowers.

     Daily (and nightly) reading is a main activity at our house. By doing without TV and limiting screen time, we've all become bookworms.  I've always felt that the books we read are uplifting and wholesome but this summer...G turned twelve. She is stretching her wings and her red thread. We decided that she could choose her summer reading material. Although not my picks for her, she's devoured several series: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Peter and the Starcatchers, and The Hunger Games. I'm confidant that she has a discerning mind, one that is open to new ideas and not threatened by them. I know from experience that excessive authority and unyielding rules = rebellion. But I did counteract with one of my favorites. Beautifully written and inspiring, I always make this book a read aloud because I don't want to miss out on it. The Tanglewoods' Secret by Patricia St. John is a heart warming, tear jerking story about faith, death, and doing the right thing.  I highly recommend it.

Indeed, the child should be able to know, read, or listen to people who hold all sorts of ideas. As they mature, it is absolutely imperative that they be trusted to have access to current "worldly" thought. Some of it has true greatness (say a play, essay, or book). They should be able to enjoy what is good, and yet be able to see what ideas are wrong. 

 For The Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

     I'm sure that some of you are like me, concerned about educating your children in the summer. If so, just sit back and make a list of your family's summer highlights. You'll find that you and your children have grown by leaps and bounds just by spending time together; intentionally giving each other your full attention and interest.


     So, do you know the answers to the Three Questions? You can read Tolstoy's meaningful right here.

     No matter what stage of life we're in, we will always have lots of questions, probably more than these three.  The Real Deal is that raising well-educated children is all fine and dandy but to experience a purposeful life and enjoy the passage of time these three answers need to wake-up with us every morning, lead us through each day, then tuck us in at night.

     I'll end with this quote from a book I've read and reread many times...

I was beginning to understand, we automatically give to each person we meet, but we choose what we give. Our words, our actions, must consciously set the stage for the life we wish to lead.

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

     Please take the time to listen to one of my all time favorite songs by James Taylor. He wrote and performed Secret O' Life in 1977, the year I graduated from college. Memory lane here I come...

Thanks for walking awhile with me.

P.S. Here's my summer mantra that I probably repeat at least once a day:
 Always try to do the right thing and...
Everyone is weird in their own way, especially us!

Linked up with Trivium Tuesdays.

and Joyous Lessons.