Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mama's Takin' Us to the Zoo!

We had a long overdue visit to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle today. Some good friends joined us. It was our first time seeing the new penguin exhibit. It was pretty crowded there, but the penguins were very active, and looked much happier than they did in their old exhibit. We saw this heron waiting around for some fish:

Annika liked the giraffes the best. Gabriel liked hanging out with his friend and seeing the snakes. We made some beaded bracelets in the African Village area.The money we paid supported the native people in Africa depicted in the village. It was a nice complement to the running around all over. Good to have some restful craft time in the middle of the day! We came home late in the afternoon and crashed on the couch. Yep, it was a good day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fame! Fortune! Success!

Well, success, at least.  I was thrilled recently when I picked up the magazine that my first published article appeared in.  It's an essay about a hike I took with my kids last summer, when a bunch of things went wrong.  It appears in AdventuresNW magazine, out of Bellingham.  What a thrill it was to see my words in print, with photos I took!  It was very satisfying to work with an editor and go through the whole process of writing and editing the essay.  Of course, the modest paycheck was pretty exciting, too.  I am super thankful for the class I took from Nicholas O'Connell last fall, and the encouragement I got from several friends and acquaintances.  The article isn't available online yet, but it will be when the next issue comes out, at the end of the summer.  Now I just gotta figure out what to write next.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lowest Tide

Today was the lowest spring tide of the year, and we went out to the local beach to check out the sea life.  The sun was warm, the breeze was gentle, the kids were enthralled.  We explored while the tide was out, then had lunch and played while the tide began its rising progression.  Here are some photos of the day.

A Sea Star regrowing its arms

We met a good friend

Clam necks

Beautiful Anemone and Opalescent Nudibranchs

Christmas Anemones

Leather Star

Tunicates, mussels, and other gooey things

Pisasters on pilings

Large clam shell with opalescent nudibranch inside

Gabriel holding giant clam shell

Teeny tiny scallop

Sea lemon

Giant Laminaria seaweed

Sea sponge

Tunicates, I think

Bryozoans on kelp

Underside of flat fish

Large clam shell with sea slugs inside

Gabriel holding large moon snail

I was doing this:

While the kids were doing this:

It was a wonderful day.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I showed you a photo of our caterpillars yesterday on these pages.  I thought I'd tell their story today.  These caterpillars have been showing up all over the neighborhood lately.  They were everywhere in our yard: on bushes, in the lawn, crawling up the house.  The kids were thrilled to find such interesting creatures to play with.  They wanted to keep some, so I found a jar and we started with two, one for each of them.  I searched on the internet (what did we ever do before Google?) and figured out they are silver spotted tiger moth caterpillars.  They feed on conifers, primarily Douglas-fir, which are extremely common here.  The caterpillars overwinter and come out in May and June, then make cocoons and turn into the moths later in the summer.  Sometimes they can be considered a pest.  Honestly, I don't remember seeing them before, so maybe this year they are having a population explosion.  

Anyway, the kids kept sneaking in more caterpillars when I wasn't looking.  The container got upgraded to include dirt (to catch the poop) rocks and various sticks for them to crawl on.  Every day they got to come out to play at least once or twice.  We got to watch them molt a few times, and leave their old skin in the bottom of the container.  Suddenly, one day we awoke to find the first cocoon had been made and occupied.  The caterpillars shed their hairs and bind them together with silk that they make.  They crawl inside and thicken the cocoon from the inside.  Then they metamorphose.  We have five or six cocoons now in two containers on our nature table.

The caterpillars seem to be disappearing outside, too, and we have found cocoons hidden on the house.  But we had an unnerving experience last week when Annika was playing with one that shed all over her hands.  The minute, fine hairs stuck to and in her skin, causing irritation and pain.  A call to the nurse hotline and then to poison control helped us figure out what to do.  First we tried duck tape to get the hairs off.  That didn't work, so we tried having her play with a paste of baking soda and water.  She didn't like that, and it didn't seem to help anyway.  Then we put her in the tub to soften her skin.  Many of the hairs seemed to fall out with that, and she was complaining less after her bath.  Finally we spread liquid children's Benadryl on her hands and bandaged them up and put her to bed for the night.  That seemed to do the trick, because she was better the next morning, though I could still see some hairs on her hands and fingers.  

I felt bad, because though I had researched the caterpillars, the websites I had found originally didn't say anything about these particular critters being irritating.  I found some more after this episode, though, and they said that they can sometimes be irritating to some people.  Well, now we know, and the kids are forbidden from playing with their charges any more.  

I'll keep you posted if any of them come out of their cocoons.  Their habitats are pretty smelly, so I hope they haven't died.  It has been really fun for me to follow my kids' lead in this; I don't remember raising caterpillars like this when I was a kid.  I'm glad I get to have a second chance at childhood through them!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Well, Friday was the last day of First Grade for a certain boy who just happened to turn 7 recently.  We are so ready for the summer to be here!  We have all kinds of fun things planned.  Also, we've decided to try homeschooling next year.  I figure we'll continue with what we're already doing:

collecting caterpillars

watching snails

arts and crafts

learning to knit

going to community events like the Watershed Fun Fair

and the Arts Festival

and spending time out in nature as much as possible.

We're looking forward to sharing our adventures with you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back Again

I took some time off from blogging here.  My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of April.  Two days later he was in the hospital having it removed.  The last day in the hospital, he found out he was getting laid off.  

He is fine now, recovering well, and won't need any more treatments.  Because he got an early colonoscopy (he was almost 40), he caught the tumor at stage 1 before it had a chance to spread.  His father died from colon cancer, so he thought he'd get screened, and we are really glad he did.  
So, the last month and a half I've been busy at home trying to take care of hubby and the kids and yard and cats.   I've been trying to swallow the shock, focus on the positive, and trust in the future.  It has been such a treat to have hubby home.  Yeah, there is the teeny-tiny stress about money.  And the little infection in hubby's incision, which is healed up, thank you very much.

I'll try to catch up on some of the more interesting positive things that have happened lately. And I'll try to write more often again.  I hope some of you are still out there!