Thursday, February 27, 2014

They Hatched!

We’ve been watching this praying mantis egg sac for weeks now and today they finally came spilling out! It was so cool! However, Jonathan and Annie thought it best to keep a safe distance. We had the egg in a paper sack with a viewing window and then we put the sack in our butterfly habitat (we wanted to be sure they couldn’t somehow escape into our house).

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After they hatched, we took the sack out back and observed them a bit before releasing them onto some flowers to fend for themselves (or to be God’s provision for our little Black Phoebe that frequents our yard). Newly hatched mantids eat aphids, but we don’t have any roses in our yards (not much of anything actually) so we didn’t want to keep them trapped.

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Praying Mantids are an example of incomplete metamorphosis. They skip the pupa stage and come out like miniature adults, called nymphs. You see, we’ve been studying “winged creatures of the fifth day”, through Apologia Science. Did you know that mantids have wings? Two sets, actually. Not all mantids fly, but use their wings primarily for camouflage.

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I hope we see these little guys around for awhile, so we can watch them grow (and Annie hopes they don’t find their way into our house). And just in case, we have another egg sac in our refrigerator so we can do it again once it warms up and our garden gets in and needs some protecting!

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I love these parenting adventures and I love to see my kids get excited over God’s creation!

And I LOVE homeschooling!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We’ve Adopted Two Girls!

And they are the sweetest guinea pigs you will ever meet!

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We have a friend who has been trying to convince us that we need to adopt another baby and just this week she told us of newborn twins that needed a home for only 30K. That was a little out of our budget range, though our hearts would have gladly taken them in.

However, these two little girls came our way this weekend, and they were only $25! That was a little more affordable for Molly, Annie and Jonathan. You see, they have been wanting a guinea pig ever since Molly’s hamster died at the end of last year. I had them check out books on guinea pigs and learn all they could. We then discovered that guinea pigs really do better with a friend. And that was a problem for us. Our cage was barely big enough for one and we couldn’t afford to buy a larger one. We really weren’t sure we even had room for a larger one. So we began talking and scheming and thinking outside the box, etc. etc. And we checked Craig’s List every day.

Then I got tired and overwhelmed with other things and decided that we would take a break from looking and just check every once in awhile. Besides, I had sent several inquiring emails and hadn’t gotten any responses. It was time to move on.

Then Friday morning, I fired up the lap top and saw the Craig’s List tab and checked real quick. Sure enough, there was a new-to-us posting for two females with a cage and accessories. I took some measurements, talked with the boys about some rearranging issues, then called the girls and Jonathan in to see what they thought. They were very interested. So we talked over a few things and decided to send an email to arrange a time to see them. My phone rang in literally less than a minute!

I talked with Earl and we decided to “proceed with caution”. I had a lot of questions. I knew it could be a “great deal” and an answer to our prayers, but I also knew it could turn out otherwise. As it turned out, these sweet girls came from a home where they were dearly loved and well-cared for and the owners had taken the time to really learn how to care for them. They were moving out of state and the young son’s interests were moving on as well. They sent us home with nearly everything we needed!

The bigger pigs name is “Bree”. I’m not sure how the original owners spelled it, but our kids immediately associated it with the horse from C.S. Lewis’ book The Horse and His Boy and so they decided to keep the name (even though the horse is a boy and the pig is a girl). The little black pig was named “Jen”, but the kids have decided to change that. They finally have settled on Anna, the younger sister from the movie Frozen.

Today we cleaned everything up real good, put in some new bedding, stocked up on veggies and just enjoyed them. They don’t climb or jump high, so their cage has no “top” and makes it very easy for interacting with them frequently. Towards evening today they were coming out of their “hides” more and eating and climbing around. We fed them some lettuce and then we really heard them make their cute little noises. The kids are looking forward to getting them on a feeding schedule and possibly doing some training.

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Since our bedroom space is limited, we had to be creative in where we put these girls. We finally decided to move David’s lizard along with the beautiful crate into the boys’ room. And we put the guinea pigs where the crate and lizard had been. It’s not ideal for this mom, but I realize it is only for a season and then these kids are going to be gone. I think it’s important to learn responsibility in caring for pets. And those of you who know our family know we tried the whole dog thing and that just didn’t work out. I think we are more of the exotic pet kind of people. We’ve had a tortoise (Sammy ran away). We adopted a bunny (who we still have and who is very happy with the run of the back yard). We’ve had two hamsters. We raised a frog from a tadpole and David is raising a lizard. We also are waiting for our praying mantis egg to hatch (though we will be releasing those into the garden!). And this spring we are hoping to hatch some quail eggs.

So the guinea pigs will be living right in the middle of life in this fun family. They will be part of our school day and all our meals (Sigh – I told the kids it is mandatory that this cage stays clean! Ha ha). As they get more comfortable with us, they will join us for family movie night and will make great buddies for the kids as they grab a book and enjoy some reading time. I do not fear these pigs will lack for attention.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

An Early April Fools' Day







Here is the background to the above video:
        It was a relaxing Saturday morning. Earl and David had taken a run to the bank while the rest of us were finishing up our morning routine. I had cleaned out my hair brush and had leaned into the bathroom to throw the hair away, but I missed the trash can. As I leaned over to pick it up from behind the trash can, I saw how I could see it's shadow and a devious plot began to form. I left it there and went running out of my room saying that "something had just run into my bathroom and was hiding behind my trash can". The rest was all up to their imagination! We shut the bathroom door and were just going to wait until Earl and David got home, but Emily got all brave and adultish on me and decided to go in and catch the invader with a towel. I repeatedly told her no, but finally relented and so she and Molly and Annie and Jonathan all learned it was a joke. But we decided to leave things the way they were and have some fun with Earl and David. And it was fun! It wasn't unusual for Molly to ask to video tape this great adventure, but they should have been clued in to the "trick" when Annie was actually watching from my bed instead of staying in her room where she was when she thought we really did have a mouse. Jonathan? Well, he was just plain disappointed that he wasn't going to get to keep anything (I had already told him no to keeping whatever it was, but he is an optimistic little bugger).

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