Monday, August 29, 2011

imperial moth

If it weren't for the fact that the sight (or thought) of a cockroach turns my stomach, I could have been an entomologist in a former life. Since both of my children have decided at one point or another that they'll grow up to be bug scientists, we have something in common.

So - when I found this imperial moth in the yard - I knew (or hoped) they would appreciate it. It was huge, with a wingspan similar to the luna moth, but with a much thicker body. Sarah was more focused, maybe because she realized that this wasn't something we see everyday, or maybe because she wanted to make me happy. Eric came and went, wandering off to do something else and then coming back to check on the moth (and to ask when we would be finished looking at it).

When we came back inside, I looked it up online and found out that it's related to the luna moth, both of which are in the Saturniidae family. One interesting factoid about the moths that belong to this family is the lack of mouth parts or a digestive system in adults. Their sole purpose is reproduction, and they live for less than a week.

That is, unless a bird picks them off sooner. The imperial moth's numbers are in decline, possibly due to light pollution. The theory - the moth doesn't move fast enough after resting near a light at night (at its size, how could it?), and the following morning it becomes quite a feast for a now-fat bird.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

her second first day

After reading a book last night about the first day of school, I asked her if she was nervous. "No. Last year I was. But this year I know what to expect and I have friends and I know the teachers," she said. She woke up early today, at 6:15, and couldn't fall back to sleep. She was happy and excited. When we arrived at school, she waved at several people (little and big), gave her kindergarten teacher a hug, and then settled into her new classroom. She gave me a kiss goodbye and got to work, without so much as a glance up when I said goodbye for the second time. She was ready to be there, and it felt so much better this time around.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

on this (important) day

This morning, when Brian wished me a happy anniversary, I didn't respond appropriately. With open house last night and school starting tomorrow, I temporarily forgot today's importance. It's not like I didn't know that the 24th is our anniversary - it's just that my thoughts and preoccupations were focused (as usual) on our children. (I could also use the excuse that I often have no idea what the date is, but that seems weak.) So, when he wished me a happy anniversary, I said, "Shit." Thankfully he was humored, rather than hurt, by my lack of attention. (Part of what I love about this husband of mine is his good, easy nature.)

Next year is our tenth, which seems big, happy, and important, and I promise - I won't forget.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

fudge pops

We made fudge pops the other day, and they were good. If one considers the ingredients we used, the goodness is apparent. Here's the recipe, in case you want to try a bit of frozen heaven before summer comes to an end.

Alton Brown's Good Eats Fudge Pops

(We made 9 pops with this recipe.)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
8 ounces (1 cup) whole milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Special Equipment: popsicle molds


1 Place chopped chocolate into a medium glass mixing bowl. Set aside.
2 Combine heavy cream, milk, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until cocoa is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk gently until all chocolate is melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
3 Divide the mixture evenly among the molds and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until solid. Fudgepops can be held in the freezer for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

jumping in

One evening at the lake, before dinner, they had a jumping contest. They invented jumps - ones named "flying guitar" and "superhero" and "cracked egg" and "blue whale" and then they tried to copy each other's moves. "Let me show you again" and "like this?" along with a lot of laughing and splashing was heard over and over again. I couldn't imagine a better way to pass the time . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

at Duke Gardens

Sometimes with kids, you get excited about an idea, throw it out there, hear grumbles of protest, and push forward anyway. Last week, I suggested we spend the morning at Duke Gardens. It had been awhile, and I wanted to be outside. They whined, they said no, and then, with a bribe of a snack, they half-heartedly agreed.

We looked for frogs, fed a turtle and some ducks, admired flowers and the blue heron. They waded in the water, collected shells, and played "Three Billy Goats Gruff". I think we found the perfect balance. I was able to enjoy talking and walking with them, and they were able to play and have fun. When it was time to go, they didn't want to leave, and neither did I. Maybe we should go again tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

our snails

Not only do we have a worm bin in our kitchen, but we have two snail habitats as well. The (seven) babies are a new addition - Sarah found them under a log last weekend, and she pleaded with us to keep them. Please, please, can we put them in with our other snails? We told her that it wouldn't work, that the hole at the top was too large for them. But . . . when it comes to this kind of thing, I'm easy. I suggested that we could make another habitat for them, and so we did. Brian was rolling his eyes the entire time, but he helped take pictures despite his quiet protest.

We've had the bigger ones for awhile. Shortly after setting the frogs free, I found directions for creating a snail habitat in one of my books. So, we found some snails and put them in their new home. Thanks to my friend Shelly, they have a pretty cool house - she gave me the container, along with a coupon for an aquatic frog. We never did order the frog, but the snails seem to like it. They go back and forth through the tunnel, which is a big hit. There are two big ones and one smaller one - Sarah and Eric call them "Mr. Big" (with no clarification between the two bigger ones) and "Mr. Little."