The Hungry Little Monarch Caterpillar

At the end of April, we visited the butterfly garden that we planted at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  We were ecstatic to see monarchs in the garden!  Not only did we see monarchs but we gathered the eggs.  At this time, I had no idea what we were getting into.

So the caterpillar nursery began. ¬†After about a week, twelve of the fourteen caterpillars came into the world. ¬†These hungry little guys ate and ate and ate! ¬†They initially measured a mere 1 mm long! ¬†After two weeks of nibbling away at the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars were about the size of my son’s pinky finger!

I started getting concerned that I would not be able to keep up with their appetites!  They are veracious eaters.  Initially, I thought that they would only eat the leaves, but the ended up eating every bit of each stalk of milkweed that I placed in with them. One afternoon, I started calling around to find milkweed to feed them, but lucky for me I found them forming Js at the top of the enclosure.

We even got to watch one of them form its chrysalis.  It was absolutely amazing.  Then for another 10 days or so, we had 12 gem-like chrysalis hanging in our kitchen.

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We went away for the weekend and came home to an amazing sight!

We had several dark colored chrysalis and several butterflies!  We observed them for a day and were entranced by their beauty.  We watched several of them emerge from their chrysalis and grasp onto the edge of the chrysalis as they dried their wings.  When all twelve had emerged and dried, we brought them out to the garden and released them.  It was a bittersweet moment.

Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to find more eggs this summer so that we can tag them.  Monarchs migrate to Mexico each year.  The generation that we released will lay more eggs here and their offspring should be the ones to make the journey.  We will let you know if we get to do it again!

Wacky Wednesday-Landsford Canal State Park

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Over the years, I have made a list of the places that I would like to visit near by.  We live in a very unique area.  We are between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  We have a lot of really amazing opportunities nearby.  Landsford Canal State Park has been on my list for a while.

The park is known for its rocky shoals spider lilies.  I have heard that they are beautiful when they are in bloom.  So back in August, we put a plan in place to visit the lilies in May-little did we know that we would be contributing to our Wacky Wednesday list!

This trip required some preparation.  We had eight people kayaking so we had to rent a U Haul trailer in order to get the kayak down to the drop in point.  The park is on the Catawba River which has a fairly slow current typically.  We put our kayaks in one by one.  The kids immediately went off exploring.  Unfortunately, on our way to catch up with them, my friend hit a rock and capsized her kayak.  We spent an hour trying to get the water out of the kayak with out getting taken by the current.  Once we got back underway and found the kids, they were playing on some rocks and a fallen tree trunk.

The downside was that their kayaks got hit by one of our paddlers.  Paddles, life jackets and kayaks went floating down the river.  Another rescue effort-I retrieved all of the items and got them to the kids.  We were off again.

We found out quickly why the area is called rocky!  The adults got stuck on rocks almost every 30 feet or so.  The kids flew right down the river.  Luckily, most of the river was shallow enough that we could get out, dump out the water and get back in.  It sounds much easier that it was!  The current was far from slow as we had anticipated.

By the time that we made it to lilies, we were exhausted and ready to get off of the water.

Of course we always learn things from our trip and here is our list from this trip!

  1. Not only check the weather but also the water depth/current.
  2. Take a pump (using a McDonald’s cup takes a really long time to get water out of a kayak)
  3. Have your plan in place before people get in the water (uhm, where did the kids go? Oh-they are WAY OVER THERE!).
  4. Rope is always useful when paddling-why didn’t we bring any?
  5. There is a reason that there are different types of kayaks.  Lake kayaks are not meant for any type of white water, or rocks, or current.
  6. Laughter works much better than freaking out when stuck in a bad situation (we spent a lot of time laughing because it is all we could do in our minds.  We helped a lady who also hit a rock and began freaking out.  She could not calm down.  We all realized from her example how important it is to remain calm in order to problem solve.)

I am positive that we learned a lot more from the trip, but this is all that I can come up with right now.  We decided that next week, we will stick with something closer to home!

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We made it back all in one piece!

Wacky Wednesday Update

Wacky Wednesdays sort of came to a halt in March. ¬†The flu and pneumonia took the first two Wednesdays of March. ¬†The third Wednesday of March wasn’t so wacky as we headed to the climbing gym. ¬†The fourth Wednesday of the month, Sims went on a tour of the local high school to see what it is about. ¬†The last Wednesday, we headed out on the boat to enjoy the lake.

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Getting out on the lake

April only had one Wacky Wednesday and it was only with Parks.  He and I headed to Raleigh, NC to check out a freestyle BMX complex-the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex.  Parks was in heaven.  He spent the day jumping ramps, playing in the bowl, and playing on the pump track.

May is going pretty well.  The first Wednesday, we hit the lake.  Sims is enjoying driving everyone around now that he has his boating licence.  The next Wednesday was a prep day for the weekend as we all had big plans.  Last week, we went to Landford Canal State Park.  You can read about this trip in my next post!

Grade 8 Project

Eighth grade!  Wow!  Eight grade!  I cannot believe that our homeschooling journey began six years ago, and that we made it this far.  My oldest child began homeschooling in the third grade after a less than good experience in traditional school.  I was a nervous wreck about pulling him out of school and taking on the responsibility of teaching him.  Looking back, I am so glad that I did.

Sims and Lily

These two met in kindergarten and have homeschooled together through the 6 years! All grown up!

When I pulled my kids from school, I had many ideas in my head for what I wanted to do over the next years. ¬†One of my ideas was an eighth grade project. ¬†When I mentioned this to my son last summer, he was ecstatic. ¬†He came up with enormous projects-rebuilding a car, rebuilding a sail boat, building a bouldering wall in his room,….the list went on and on. ¬†Obviously, these projects were slightly larger than what I had in mind.

We came to ¬†a compromise. ¬†At fourteen, people can get their boaters licence here in North Carolina. ¬†He decided to take the class to get his boaters licence and to work on his grandfather’s fishing boat to get it up and running.

His grandfather brought the boat up in the fall.  Sims worked on the trolling motor first.  Before the age of fourteen, a person can only operate a motor that is less than 10 horse power on the lake; so the trolling motor was perfect.  He and his buddies putted around the lake at a very slow speed!

The first adventure!

One long boat ride with the trolling motor!

Right before his fourteenth birthday, Sims completed the boater’s course, which consisted of 6 sections that had to be passed and a final exam. ¬†Passing the course meant that he could now take the boat out and use the actual engine. ¬†He was ecstatic.

He and his friend took the boat out.  It made it about 200 feet before it stopped.  LOL!  They paddled in and then the engine work began.  Since that time, he has also built a platform inside the boat so that they have more room to stand and fish.  Overall, I think his project was a definite success.  I also think it will be a project that he will keep learning from over the next few years!

Block 8: 2016/2017

Block 8!  I cannot believe we are getting close to the end of the year!  Not only was block 8 full of school, it was full of activities!

Grade 4: Norse Myths

This month, Parks finished up his study of the Norse myths. ¬†He told me that the myths have been his favorite part of the year. ¬†He loves the stories, which is good since he has heard them many times before. ¬†We continued to use the D’Aularis book of Norse Myths.

Grade 6: Business Math

Sawyer LOVED this month (in fact, she is going to keep working on it through May).  For this block, I purchased the Bookstore curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason.  She developed a logo, decided on her inventory, and began working through the book.  The program introduces real life scenarios, such as road construction occurred in front of your store; thus, you lost some of your sales.  Of course, these scenarios brought about a lot of discussions-especially about our small town that is going through quite a few construction projects lately.

Grade 8: Government and Civics

I originally planned on only going over US government with Sims, but our discussions turned us in another discussion.  This allowed him to learn about other types of governments and to compare/contrast them to the US government.  We also all fell in love with the game CIVITAS.  It is a quick card game that teaches about different government types.

Our month of activities!