Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Swallowtail butterfly

Last fall George was taking Lincoln for a walk out in our fields and as he looked down saw a caterpillar on Queen Anne's lace. It was a swallowtail caterpillar and I wondered why it would be on that plant when I knew that it liked dill and carrot tops. In a simple online search we found that Queen Anne's lace is a wild carrot and is what the carrots we now eat were once cultivated from in Europe.
This is the position it goes into when attaching itself.
It will then hang back and form the chrysalis.
We have raised monarchs many times and then a few years back my dad found us a swallowtail chrysalis on some dillweed and at that time assumed them much like the monarch. We waited and waited for the butterfly to emerge but nothing happened. Summer turned to fall and then winter and our chrysalis still sat in the jar on the kitchen counter. Then one cold day in February with our fireplace heating the house toasty warm (or stifling hot at times) a yellow swallowtail emerged. What were we to do with it? Unfortunately, we did take it outside and obviously it froze.

Lesson learned and this time I knew more of what to expect and that being late in summer our caterpillar would be hibernating in it's chrysalis over the winter. This time I put it in our cold, dark garage and then brought it into the house the beginning of June when our fields were beginning to fill with plants to sustain the butterfly.

While we had a stick in the jar for the caterpillar it instead
chose to attach itself to a very thin stem. I attached it to the stick for support. 
It did start out as a green chrysalis but over time turned brown.
A black swallowtail emerged a few weeks ago. It was a bit different than with the monarch as he didn't seem as patient to hang and wait for his wings to dry but kept attempting to crawl around so that he fell more than once.

He eventually did take off in flight and all was well. We know it
is male by the brighter yellow markings and not as much blue
toward the bottom as a female has.
Watching the life cycle of the butterfly is one of my favorite things to do. A simply amazing creation created by a most amazing God!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vacation -- Day 4 Visit with Family

The main reason we decided to go on vacation to St. Louis this year was because we wanted to visit with John's relatives as much as possible. It was great staying with his cousin's family and on the last day (after my dentist visit) we had a picnic at John's Uncle and Aunt's house along with a couple more cousins for our kids to play with. They live out in the country which reminds me a bit of our land except is surrounded by more trees and has a creek nearby. The kids had a great time filling cups with baby frogs and exploring the land along with a bonfire.

I was amazed by the sound of cicadas filling the air with a buzzing hum. We have cicadas every summer and we'll hear a little buzzing so that we can often track the sound and find one but not anything near what I heard there. I understand it was the 13th year and they were all emerging and the sound was so loud. Ours emerge every 13 years too I imagine just not in mass amounts. While we only find maybe one on a tree Pete said he found more than 20 shells near one tree! I wish I would have taken a few more pictures.

Walking on the "ribs" in the creek.

The gang with Uncle D and Aunt P who in this picture were ready for a class reunion.

Next time we need to stay longer. More family to see and more to explore and it is such a family-friendly area.

Missy and her good "friend" J

Vacation and toothaches

During our trip I had a toothache that had started the day before we left. I figured it was as I have had before sinus pain affecting my teeth or maybe due to pregnancy. Taking Tylenol was helping but by the third day I had increased the amount I was taking to cut the increased pain which had now moved into my jaw. By the end of our sightseeing day even that wasn't taking away the pain. I ended up calling an OB nurse and she was able to have my doctor prescribe me something stronger. While I typically do not like taking medication for anything I especially did not want to be taking this while pregnant but my pain was so intense and I had begun waking in the night in pain. Normally I can handle pain fairly well but I find that when it is anywhere in my head forget it. I ended up on the couch that evening with an ice pack and again thankful not to be camping but in a nice comfortable place.

By the next day I knew I couldn't handle the pain any longer as the prescription wasn't even taking away the pain. So I got online and started looking for a dentist in the area which was no small task being that it was a holiday weekend. I am very thankful to have found one that was open and I could get in to see mid-morning. John and I went but ended up waiting longer because of other emergencies.

I did end up in more pain as the assistant was tapping on my teeth and hit the sore one and I about jumped out of my chair. She apologized profusely and was careful thereafter. All they ended up doing was taking a photograph of the tooth with a mirror and the dentist insisted that I would need a root canal and there was nothing he could do except "knock the tooth down" if I could "brace myself". (The tooth wasn't level with the rest.) I wasn't sure if he was serious or not but that was not an option I was going to take. He did prescribe an antibiotic for me which would not kick in for at least another day. So, I guess I would not be relieved of my pain.

For the rest of the trip I tried to keep the pain at bay with ice packs and the meds wishing I would have seen my own dentist before we left on the trip. My worst day was actually when we were traveling home. I think just being cooped up in the van with children who were kind of grumpy and wanting to get home didn't help but I was in horrible pain from time to time. It wasn't consistent but I never knew when it would come on and at times I was in tears it hurt so bad and I wanted it over with. John tried to help but not much he could do except drive. By the time we got home I lay in bed the rest of the night with a heating pad and rested and by the next morning the antibiotics had finally kicked in and the pain was gone, hallelujah!

I did visit my dentist later that week and it turns out that he thinks that the problem was with my gums and not the tooth itself as it looked fine. Without taking an x-ray, which they wanted to avoid, he couldn't say 100 % but most likely it was a combination of pregnancy hormones softening my gums and possibly something small like a popcorn hull getting caught between my two back teeth being that I have been putting off having crowns and so the fillings are not up to par.

The infection is gone. I am pain free and waiting for the new year to have crowns put on. As my dentist said, "I guess you decided to have a baby this year instead". Yup, a much better investment I'd say.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Vacation Day 3 -- Whirlwind Day

We wanted to pack as much into our short trip as possible and so on this beautiful day we packed in a lot of sightseeing. First stop, another free attraction (that is one thing I like about St. Louis!) the St. Louis Zoo. You only have to pay for parking unless you find a spot on the road and walk but getting there early helps. I like the layout of this zoo and while there is a lot of walking involved it is such a beautiful walk. Although, trying to fit it all in in two hours is not very easy. Basically we found our favorite animals, took a quick look, and off we went. Of course they put the elephants all the way across the park from the giraffes so we had quite a trek to make and I am not walking as fast as I used to. :)
These two put on a show of domination for us and I got some very interesting pictures although this is only of the chase.
Next stop -- meeting up with the cousins at the Gateway Arch. We enjoyed a picnic lunch together under the trees overlooking the Mississippi river and then made our way to what all of our children were excited to finally go up in. I on the other hand was not thrilled with the idea of getting into a tiny cramped elevator fit for five even if it is only a four minute trip to the top. Small spaces and I do not get along well (I take after my Dad). Thankfully Clifford and Jayna helped out in taking our children to the top so I did not need to go along. Although after wandering around for 1 1/2 hours by myself I began to think maybe I should have been brave and went along. The kids were able to find me on the ground far below as I had given them a reference point to find where I would be. Of course it helped to have the zoom lens on the camera.

See me on the steps of the Gateway Arch?
After the arch we walked a number of blocks away to City Gardens that has interesting art sculptures for children to enjoy and climb on. The weather did not look like it would hold up any longer so we headed back before the storms rolled in and had another relaxing evening just enjoying each other's company.

Pete making music by jumping on the tiles. It sounded like wind chimes.
Missy walking through the sprinklers in the garden.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our Vacation -- Day 2 Science Center

We were so happy to be able to stay with John's cousin's family during our trip! Clifford and Jayna (aliases) and their three girls were very welcoming and the children hit it off pretty quickly, although it always takes a bit of time to get reacquainted. They all stayed in their master bedroom and gave us the girls rooms and a bathroom all our own. It was so relaxing and Seppy especially enjoyed sleeping in a big bed with his sister since they really would like to do the same at home.

Seppy looking at the cars passing under him.
Our second day of vacation began dreary and cool. We thought we'd head south to soak up the warm temperatures but alas that didn't happen. But, at least it was warmer than the 50 degree temps that they were enduring at home. Our plans for the day did change however. The boys really had hoped to visit the Botanical Gardens which we had been to on a past trip but the children's garden was closed due to storm damage for the duration of our stay and we didn't feel like being outside. After a late night of having fun we all slept in and then let the kids play but spent the afternoon at a free attraction -- the Science Center. We saw the first U.S. space capsule that Alan Shepherd went into space in and it was small with enough room only for one person! The thought of it gave me that claustrophobic feeling.

George scanning the speed of cars from the overpass. Here he clocked one at 74 mph.
Re-Pete and Pete building a cable style bridge

There were a lot of hands-on things to do and learn about and we all had fun. That evening the kids kept right on playing while us adults were kind of tired out. You know what is nice about staying at someone's house? I didn't have do to any cooking. Jayna had delicious meals all planned out and ready for us along with sandwich fixings to take with us during day excursions. We truly did feel at home away from home except that theirs is much cleaner and more organized which I really enjoyed! :)

               Working together to build the arch.    John getting ready to knock it down on the kids.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday, although it doesn't feel like anything special being that we celebrated last week along with my Grandpa who is 91! I like having a party with him! Do you still celebrate your birthday? I grew up in a family where adult birthdays for my parents and grandparents all were celebrated with a party and I love it that way and it continues today. While there are so many created holidays there is nothing like a birthday to show and tell someone how much they mean to you and make them feel special.

My Mom made Key Lime Torte for me as I wasn't in the mood for cake this year. (Grandpa eats anything) It was so pretty and yummy too!
Tonight we celebrate my nephew's birthday who turned 7. He was born on my 30th birthday and what a wonderful gift I received that day. (So now you know how old I am.) The next best thing to my own children. Happy Birthday "Silky Cheeks"!

So last week my Grandpa and I had a celebration and George pointed out that it seems with each birthday I have someone tries to make me cry. Well, I don't know if they go out of their way to do it but at least one person always succeeds. This year my sister started off with a card about growing up as sisters. I knew I wouldn't make it through just reading the word "sister". And then George gave me a gift that he thought up and employed my Mom to help him create. He wanted to make me a table runner and so he and my Mom picked out various fabrics in shades of purples to match our dinning room and sewed a beautiful runner! In addition to that he had made me a heated rice pack with a removable cover. I knew I was getting something he made but I had no idea and of course that also brought tears to my eyes.

Table runner from George (and my Mom)

I love birthdays and celebrations don't you?!

John bought me this porch swing that I love! It fits 3 adults or 6 children which is perfect.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Driving Through Storms

Next stop -- St. Louis, after a two hour drive. We had planned on getting a bite to eat before setting off but then I overheard someone in Springfield say that a storm would be arriving by 5:30 p.m. and we thought we'd get out of there before it hit. Little did we know that we would be running into those approaching storms and driving through what I saw later was an entire red blotch on the radar of storm and tornado warnings.

As the sky began to look eerie I pulled out the map and found a radio station that kept interrupting with the updated warnings which always seemed to be the county we were in at the time. I for one am not good with high winds and tornado warnings and am very thankful we live in an area where they are not frequent. So I was a little on edge, as was George, who takes after me in too many ways. Tank, our child who throws up when he hears thunder was in hiding underneath pillows but at least the rain was too strong to hear any thunder. The other boys slept and Missy Blue sat in the back chattering away without a care in the world.

I am thankful for a husband who does not get rattled and was calm as could be. He is the kind of driver that I am not fond of in that he passes other vehicles during pouring rain while the cars on the right-hand lane are all driving with their hazards flashing or were pulled over to wait it out. It was nice when we'd come to a break and then could relax a bit and I'd ask John if he could just keep driving toward the clear skies instead of the way we were headed but he kept on telling me that he'd rather be in a moving vehicle during a tornado warning than stopped in a restaurant or somewhere as he could keep moving. I think my problem is that I watched the movie Twister years ago and so I envisioned a funnel dropping down right in front of us on the road and picking up our van. It seemed the Christian radio station was purposely playing certain songs because "Praise You In the Storm" and others like it kept playing which I kept trying to belt out to keep calm as I was getting so tense my braxton hicks were getting too frequent.

After searching the clouds the entire time and waiting to see a tornado we safely arrived in St. Louis. We were so happy to see the welcoming Gateway Arch amidst the rain but could see that this time we were indeed headed toward clear skies and I could even see a hint of the sun. We did stop for a bite to eat for all the growling tummies and tried Five Guys Burgers and Fries as I had heard they are so good (but a little pricey for a family of 8!). I did like that everything was fresh without fillers and such and I did enjoy my double burger with the works but alas, it does not come anywhere close to a Sheboygan hamburger on a hard roll, especially from our favorite little diner, Charcoal Inn. That is our opinion anyway. :)

We were very thankful to arrive at John's cousin's house and get settled. We haven't gone anywhere without our motor home for a long time so staying at someone's house was a new experience and we were so thankful for their hospitality!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Our Vacation -- Day 1 Lincoln Museum

We left for a short trip to St. Louis last Wednesday and on the way down decided to stop at the Abraham Lincoln Museum as my parents said it was a must see. It was also a good way to break up the trip a bit seeing as we didn't take the motor home due to gas prices. We drove through two hours of rain with off and on downpours on the way there but arrived to sunny and warm temperatures which was so welcoming after coming from temps in the 50s!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in a park outside while Seth examined a statue of Lincoln sitting on a park bench. He was so intent, climbing all over examining it with such a serious look on his face and feeling all around. I finally asked what he was doing and he said, "Looking for the hole." I asked what hole and he replied as if I should already know, "Where Lincoln was shot".  :) That made me laugh to think of my three year old looking for the gunshot wound in a statue and that he would even know to look on the head. Maybe there are advantages to being the youngest child. It took us three hours to go through the museum but if we didn't have children along it would take more time to read all of the information.
Our family visiting with the Lincoln's during their stay at the White House. I feel a bit under-dressed.
Our favorites were the two shows they do -- Ghosts of the Library where a librarian tells the stories behind some of the artifacts and at times things like a quill pen or the person in his story "come to life" using a hologram-type technology. The second one was Lincoln's Eyes which was a special effects movie going through the events in Lincoln's life. With that the seats shake on occasion and there are periodic flashing lights or booming noises which did cause for most of us to jump. If you have small children it might help to find out when to expect the movement, although Seppy did okay being on my lap. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you stop in and see this very well done museum.
Dressing up in Mrs. Lincoln's Attic

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