Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"...it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take"

"Their story, yours and mine -- 
it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, 
and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them."
—William Carlos Williams

This week I am excited SC and I are travelling along with AC to New York City.  I have been to NYC twice - once in 2005 when AC proposed, and once earlier this year when just I tagged along for a quick weekend.  However, many of the things I am going to be doing with SC will be things I will be doing for the first time.  It is disappointing that AC will have to be working during the days and miss experiencing many of these places with us, but I am thankful that we get to go with him and that it is much less expensive for us to take this trips since he will be working.

SC and I have prepared for this trip by reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, which won the Newbery Medal in 1968, and I have reviewed on my latest What 2 Read Wednesday post.  We have also read a number of picture books, which you can see a list of here.  Finally, we watched Night at the Museum, Muppets Take Manhattan, and Ghostbusters, all of which take place in New York City and have places which we will be seeing while there.  Here is a list of ten places we will be going to while in NYC this week.

1. NY Public Library - Children's Book Exhibit 

2. Central Park (SC really wants to ride on the carousel)

3. FAO Schwarz 

4. Guggenheim

5. Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Cloisters

6. American Museum of Natural History

7. Cinderella (on Broadway)

8. Bronx Zoo

9. Museum of Modern Art

10. Empire State Building

We will also probably attempt to get a view of the Statue of Liberty, but will not travel over to it and Ellis Island this trip simply because they recently opened it back up and I think it will just be too busy and take up more time than SC has patience for.  Most of the places we will be going to we will spend just a couple hours before moving on.

Finally, after SC saw pictures of our having tea in London, we decided we are going to go to a special place for her to have proper tea while in NYC.  We found this cute little place called Alice's Tea Cup and have made reservations for a late afternoon tea.

What are some of your favorite places for families in New York City?  Leave a comment, and then check out more Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"...and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." 
Psalm 19:1

This Thursday I am thankful that in the midst of a hot July in Texas, God blessed us with not only a much needed rainstorm, but a whole day of drizzle, cool temperatures and light breezes last Sunday, which became a much needed day of relaxing together as a family.

We started out early in the morning having coffee (AC and I) on the back porch, and then SC and I tried out her new "watercolor" pencils.  We decided to draw some of our backyard sunflowers.  These pencils are neat because you use them first to draw with, and then you can use a small paintbrush with water over the top to create a "watercolor" effect.

We moved inside to make breakfast, and then went back out with some peppermint tea, a book for me, the book AC is working on for him, and some fun playtime in the rain for SC.  She kept her pajamas on all day, but added her rain boots, and spent time toting buckets of water from the gutter downspout to her "pie" in the wheelbarrow (which had previously been filled with dirt and debris).  She also pulled a bunch of weeds to throw in and mix about.  

We didn't finally come inside until mid-afternoon (when GoldCup soccer was starting), and had to put SC directly into the bath.

It was a wonderful day of rest, especially since AC left Sunday night for a week-long business trip to New Hampshire, and was just what we all needed.

Are you thankful for an unexpected break from the summer heat, too?  Leave a comment below, and then check out more Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar..."

"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar 
is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar."
-Bradley Millar

A few weeks ago I was mowing the lawn (something I love to do, by the way) and I noticed there were hundreds of fuzzy caterpillars all over my sunflower plants.  Worrying that they may be poisonous (as they were fuzzy), I ran inside and looked up "what caterpillars eat sunflowers" on Google and discovered that not only were they not poisonous, but that they are fairly easy to raise in jars through to butterflies.

Ten Easy Steps to Raise
Gorgone Checkerspot (
Chlosyne gorgone) Butterflies:

1. Plant some sunflowers and wait for them to bloom.

2. Set up a jar with cut sunflower leaves and a stick or two, using cotton cheesecloth (or netting) for the top.

3. Look for the tiny, bright green caterpillar eggs that butterflies have laid on the underside of the sunflower leaves.


4. Go searching for evidence of caterpillars that have hatched.  Gorgone Checkerspot caterpillars will congregate to eat when they are really young, but venture out on their own as they get bigger.  They also kind-of skeletonize the sunflower leaves, which will be an indicator as well.

5. Gather a few caterpillars munching on the leaves and drop them carefully into the jar.

6.  Watch them eating.  Also, you may have to clean out their excrement (called frass) after a few days if you get them while they are very young, as well as provide them with new, fresh sunflower leaves.  Carefully remove the leaves they are on and wipe out the tiny frass with a damp paper towel.  Remove any mostly-eaten leaves, and then place new leaves into the jar.  Carefully place the leaves with the caterpillars on them back into the jar as well. **See #7.

7. When they are ready to perform metamorphosis, they will find a nice spot to curl up and hibernate   **Be careful if you are moving them around to clean inside the jar after they have started to curl up.  I had one adhere to the top of the cheesecloth a day before the others even started to slow down eating, but was able to lift it off carefully, place it over the mouth of a cup, and then replace it without disturbing the pupa.

8. It will only take a few hours before the outside of the pupa forms around them.

9.  Wait and watch the transformation.  This took at least a week.  Then, one afternoon, we noticed one of the pupa was transparent.

Upon further examination of our jar, we had one Gorgone Checkerspot butterfly ready to be released!  (It the below picture, you can see it drying its wings and waiting on us, but you can also see one of the other pupae as well, yet to emerge.)

10.  Release the butterfies back toward the sunflowers to do it all again.  I had to reach into the jar and let it ride up on my hand because it could not climb the glass and was not utilizing the stick, but that was okay.  After it flew away, it came back to say hi again and SC thought that was amazing.

Sorry that some of the pictures are blurry.  My nice extra-zoom camera only wanted to take pictures of the glass of the jar, so I was stuck using my phone, which only barely focused through the glass.

Sunflowers also attract other butterflies similar to the Gorgone Checkerspot; in fact, at first we thought we had Bordered Patch butterflies!  You could also plant parsley, dill or fennel to attract some Black Swallowtail butterflies, which produce long, fat, beautiful caterpillars, and of course planting milkweed will attract the Monarch butterfly and its offspring.  

Also, there are a number of companies that sell live baby caterpillars and will ship them to you, complete with a food substitute, small jar for them to pupate in, and a large cage to observe the butterflies once they emerge.  However, I don't think this is nearly as fun or educational as creating a home for them based on what they eat in the wild.

Finally, here are some early reader books that go along with learning about the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly:


Have you ever tried raising butterflies at home?  Leave a comment with how it went, and then check out some more Top Ten Tuesday posts here

Many Little Blessings

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"...among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness."

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
 that all men are created equal, 
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Today I am thankful that in spite of all the political drama that seems to constantly be at the forefront of our governmental system, we live in a country that is trying its best to be (as Lincoln stated) "of the people, by the people, for the people."  I pray that God will continue to bless Americans in this way, and that He uses us as a guiding light for those who are living in the dark, even if it isn't easy for us.

What are you thankful for today?  Leave a comment below, and then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Happiness is excitement that has found
a settling down place..."

“Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, 
but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.” 
― E.L. KonigsburgFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

This past year I had high hopes for read-alouds, but because I am just not very good at it, we really only read a couple of longer books.  Now that I have found that both SC and I do better for long read-alouds when we are both listening (i.e., audiobooks), the list for us to listen to for next year is getting long.  The books are, literally, piling up!  So, for Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten books already on our list of read-alouds for next year (in no particular order).

1. Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

2. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

5. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

6. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

7. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konisburg

8. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

10.  The Borrowers by Mary Norton

You may notice there are three books from author Neil Gaiman on the list, and that is because I got to hear a little of Fortunately, the Milk when I saw/heard Gaiman last week and it sounded incredible.  Coraline is one of SC's "favorite" (this is a right-now type statement for her) movies, and The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Award.  I don't think including three books from Gaiman waters down the list in any way.

Also, we are currently planning a trip to New York City (another tag-along with AC while he works), so we may try to read/listen to The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler before that trip at the end of July since the setting is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and SC and I will be visiting it while we are there.  It is also one of my favorite childhood books and I cannot wait to share it with her!

Have you started your read-aloud list for next year yet?  Leave a comment with what's already on it, and then check out some more Top Ten Tuesday posts here

Many Little Blessings

Monday, July 1, 2013

Menu Monday:
"Till Freedom cheered and the joy-bells rung."

Province to province faithful clung,
Through good and ill the war-bolt hurled,
Till Freedom cheered and the joy-bells rung.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Boston"

Instead of giving the entire weeks menu, this week I am going to highlight some of the things I want to make for Independence Day (and maybe a few things that I won't make, but would still be tasty).

For our main entrees, AC will be getting up in the wee hours of the morning to smoke both brisket and pork ribs.  We are also going to to have grilled corn, "funny" potatoes, which consist of diced potatoes baked in copious amounts of butter, and various other fruits and vegetables to snack on.  Being that we are in Texas, I may make homemade guacamole and salsa, to be eaten with either plantain chips or corn tortilla chips.  I may also ask my brother-in-law to make a jicama slaw that he mentioned last week.

For dessert, I am contemplating the following recipes:

Summer Berry Trifle W/Vanilla Cake (see pic above)

Meyer Lemon & Raspberry Cream Tarts

Apple Blueberry Pie

What is on your July 4th menu this week?
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