Friday, August 22, 2014

Life. And all we know about caterpillars.

This story begins with Bob.
Bob is a black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar, and we found him in the garden munching on dill.
We potted a dill plant and brought it in the house... along with Bob.  Bob ate and ate and ate.  When he wasn't stuffing his face with dill, he rested until he was ready to eat some more.
He grew very quickly.  His wrinkles filled in, and then out!  He got pretty chubby until one day, he spun some silk and started on his chrysalis.
Here is the sad part... Bob died.  He started the chrysalis phase, but he didn't progress past the picture above... and then he turned kindof squishy and brownish and stinky... and then we knew Bob would not be a butterfly.

But then there was a happy twist...
On the dill plant we brought into our house, there were three tiny butterfly eggs.   So tiny we didn't really notice them until there were three tiny caterpillars munching away on the dill!

These caterpillars were names Stoneteller, Hailstar, and Brambleberry.
Just like Bob, they ate and grew and ate and grew and rested and ate and ate and ate and grew!
They were so big and plump!
Then one day we found Stoneteller running (as only a caterpillar can) across the kitchen floor.  We picked him up and put him back on the plant.
An hour later, he was gone.

And then Hailstar disappeared.
And then I put Brambleberry in a jar!
The next day there was a beautiful green chrysalis in the jar...

I spent about two weeks looking around our house for chrysalises.  And then one day after school, there was a butterfly by the back door!
 Stoneteller was a boy (you can tell by the prominenty yellow bands on the back of his wings).  We were delighted that Stoneteller made it to the butterfly stage (and was found at last!!!).  We let him out and he flew away.

We did find his empty chrysalis on the side of our little plant table in the kitchen.

Here is a better look at the empty chrysalis...

The next morning, we noticed that Brambleberry's chrysalis was darker than normal.  And while we were looking, it wiggled and split open!  
I ran to grab the camera!  
By the time I got back, Brambleberry had wiggled out and was lying on the bottom of the jar.  Look at those tiny wings!  (And that big bottom!)
The kids were already off to school... which was sad.

I got her out of the jar...

And I put her on a plant near the window.  It didn't take long for her wings to unfurl.

She gently flapped her wrinkled wings and they smoothed out and grew and grew.

Her body seemed to slim down too.

Here is Brambleberry's empty chrysalis...

Before long, she was all stretched out and ready to go!  Brambleberry is a female.  You can tell by the prominent blue on the bottom of her wings.

It was a very rainy day, so Brambleberry stayed inside until the girls came home from school.  She just rested on the plants by the windows.
 The girls got a good look at her and then we opened the door, and she flew right outside and fluttered away.
They grow up so quickly.

If you have been keeping track of the numbers, yes, there is still one missing.  Hailstar is likely somewhere in our house.  Hopefully he/she will appear very soon.

 To see some of our previous caterpillar adventures, click here, and here, and here, and here.  Yes, we do this often (yearly or so).  Black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on dill, parsley and fennel.  We plant those things in our garden to attract the butterflies.  And every summer we find caterpillars!  Watching tiny caterpillars grow and change and become butterflies never gets old!  It is magic every single time.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Go Cougars!

If you follow BYU football, you might have heard about their countdown to game day (search #BYU50 on Facebook).  For the 50 days leading up to kickoff, a box of BYU football goodies is hidden in each state.  A picture of the box in a certain location is posted every day.  First person to make it to the box wins it.
So Andy has been following the progress of this countdown, and waiting for Ohio's turn (they are going through the states alphabetically).
Yesterday was Ohio's turn!  Andy was at work when the picture was posted.  The big blue box with the "Y" logo was in front of the Arnold statue... just a few blocks from Andy's work!  Guess what?!  He was the first one there!
I was at the elementary open house when Andy found the box.  He called to tell me the good news.  I thought he was joking at first.  Nope.  He came straight to the school.  
When we got home, we opened the box and checked out the fun stuff... there was a jersey, t-shirt, stickers, license plate frame, end zone pylon, a football signed by all the great BYU quarterbacks, a bag, sunglasses, coupons, posters...
I'm not gonna lie... the kids were a little disappointed.  They were hoping for candy and stuffed animals.
(I was hoping for four scholarships.)

 And so we donned our most festive true blue attire and had a little family photo shoot with our box of stuff...

Our littlest Cougar even has blue eyes!  That is TRUE BLUE!

We made some awesome cheer formations!  Go Cougars!

This season is so bright... gotta wear shades!


Rise and shout the Cougars are out!

What do you think?  Is this a Christmas card photo or what?!

Thanks BYU Football for the box of fun stuff!  Go Cougars!