Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thirteen more butterflies


Last fall, I wrote a post called "Thirteen Butterflies" about the twelve monarchs and one black swallowtail that we raised and released.

This year, we happened to raise thirteen again - all monarchs!

Rewinding to last fall, I harvested milkweed seeds from pods I found in the park. I waited until the pods were ready to burst in the fall, and gathered all the dark brown seeds. I kept them outside on the porch so they could experience the winter chill. Then in April, I planted them.

I tried growing them in the house alongside my tomato and pepper seeds. None of the milkweed grew. My friend gave me some seeds, too, and I tried to sow them outside in pots. None grew. At this point, I scattered the rest of the seeds in my little flower garden outside and hoped for the best.

Meanwhile, I sprinkled seeds for sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and blue cornflowers in the same garden.

 

At the end of July, I found a caterpillar and an egg on some milkweed at church! We brought them home in a paper cup and began to take care of them.


That same week, I was out looking at my garden, and I finally noticed tiny milkweed plants growing! Pretty soon, I found eggs on them! The wildflowers that I had planted had drawn the butterflies to our little garden. :)


Every day from the end of July through September, we fed our caterpillars fresh milkweed leaves that we found in the park or on the side of the road. (Our own milkweed leaves were too few to feed very hungry caterpillars.) 

 
 
We would have had more butterflies, but several of the day-old larvae died. I'm still not sure why, but I know that their survival rate isn't great when they're that small. It was so cool to show the boys again how quickly they grow into huge yellow-striped caterpillars, how they hang upside down from their silks, and how they shed their skins to form beautiful green chrysalises with gold flecks. 



This year, we got really comfortable letting the butterflies crawl all over us. (August not so much!) ;)




On the mornings that the chrysalises turned black, we kept our eyes on them and were able to watch quite a few of the butterflies right as they emerged! One day, we released four butterflies - the most we've ever had at one time. They were eager to fly away from the three loud little boys and screaming baby girl. It was such a magical experience to watch them grow, and then wish them a happy journey (hopefully) to Mexico! 


I read an article about indoor-raised monarchs possibly not migrating because they're not exposed to the light changes and temperature drops of late summer. Because of this, I kept our last caterpillars out on our screened in porch.



Our 2019 crew:
Danny
Jackie 
Avery
Max
Jesse
Frank
Stevie
Andie
Shelby
Marty
Billie
Nicki
Charlie



I really can't wait to do it again next year!!




Feel free to reach out to me if you are wanting to raise monarchs next summer but have questions about it!

And if you're interested in helping restore the monarch population, one BIG way you can do that is by planting milkweed. I just took this photo last night at the park - the milkweed pods have recently burst open, and brown seeds (attached to lots of cottony fibers) are aplenty and free! :)


xo
Rachel

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Catching up

When Junia was born in May, I got really behind on blog posts, and I've spent a long time trying to catch up! I finally have gotten all of our summer photos on here - there are several posts to peruse - so feel free to read all about what we've been up to!


Monday nights and Saturday mornings are all about soccer. Steve has been coaching Nolan's team, and Uncle Phil coaches Ephraim's team. Both boys have been improving and really enjoying the season - I'm not sure what we'll do when it's over in two weeks!


We've gotten back into the habit of nightly chocolate ice cream. It is truly my vice.


When Junia sleeps in the car, I sometimes let August play with the steering wheel. He is a wild man!


Baby's first swimsuit! Looking so good in her Hanna Andersson orange creamsicles! :)


Most naps, I have to shush her and sway and hold the paci in her mouth. Other naps, she falls asleep on the floor all by herself. ;)


Our harvest is nearing the end, but we've really enjoyed green beans, cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers! We had a giant caterpillar eat an entire pepper plant, which was frustrating, considering I planted it from seed in April, but such is gardening!


Shine.FM radio station out of Chicago gave us free tickets to see the Indianapolis Indians! It was one of the last games of the season, and we had a blast!


Since we watch so much Cubs baseball, August thought we were at a Cubbies game, and I didn't correct him...



MorMor and Papa Don were there too!



Nolan said it was the "best night ever!" He was on the jumbo-tron for several seconds in the "show off your muscles" segment. . . and someone gave him a baseball! I think it's likely he'll remember this forever!


On my birthday, we spent the morning at our friends' pool. Usually my birthday is quite hot, but this day, the high was only 70!


My mom and Don watched the boys so that Steve and I (and Junia) could go out to dinner. We ate overlooking the lake, and it was lovely!




My mom bought these cupcakes to celebrate - aren't they pretty?!



Us and our friend, the giant praying mantis.


It feels like Junia wakes up bigger every day! Time, slow down!



On Labor Day, we had a little picnic at the park and played on the playground, which made for a very nice night.


And just like that, it was time to start our homeschool again! Nolan is in second grade, and Ephraim is in Kindergarten.




On our second day of school, we ate these cute pencils for lunch! They're made of freezer waffles, toasted bread for the tops, raisins for the lead, and raspberries for the erasers. Easy - and memorable!



I loved this post-nap hair!


Cozied up watching a cool animal documentary, "Expedition China".


I kiss these cheeks all day!




The older two boys started AWANA on Wednesday nights, and August is loving the time alone with Steve and me.


Our friends Ruth and Jake and their family stopped by from Michigan on their way to Nashville! We had such a wonderful dinner with them!


On September 7th, we had a little birthday party for Nolan. It just so happened that two of our butterflies came out during the party - perfect entertainment!


We can't believe our sweet firstborn is already EIGHT! We had hot dogs, chips, pineapple, watermelon, and a chocolate chip ice cream cake at the party.

 

Passing one of the butterflies around! I'm happy my nieces got to be here for that!


Daddy and Junia at church.


Nolan's actual birthday (Sept 9) was pretty low-key. He was disappointed he had to do schoolwork on his birthday :) That night we had soccer practice, he opened a couple of presents, and we all ate leftover ice cream cake.


Junia is now FOUR months old! Right now, my hip is her favorite vantage point, looking out at the world, and chewing on her hands. She rolls in every direction, has found her feet, and grins from ear to ear when we smile and talk to her. She has a new sense of stranger danger, quiets down when we go outside, and prefers all her naps to be in the sling. She is getting easier at night - she's not swaddled and can sleep on her stomach, which she likes. She's still waking up a couple of times (4 month sleep regression), but hopefully that won't last long!

Thanks for checking in on us!

xo
Rachel

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