Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our New Arrivals!

Join us in welcoming the newest arrivals to our home!
They will not be staying long.

Introducing some 50 or so Assassin Bugs! The egg cases we put in a jar hatched this afternoon. Kirk has been reading Texas Bug Book, The Good The Bad & The Ugly, by Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck and immediately identified them as Assassin Bugs. We searched a couple of other books and also found this website with a picture of eggs exactly like ours. Scroll to the bottom of the website page to see the picture.

We are going to watch them for a little bit longer and return them to the garden to eat aphids. I am so glad they are beneficial insects so I don't have to figure out how to dispose of them!

This book is probably one of the coolest books about insects that we own! It is full of information about life cycles, host plants, diet, natural control if necessary, and personal anecdotes by the authors. The photos are fabulous and we have spent many an afternoon reading this like a story book. I think I bought it at a nearby Texas State Park, but I cannot remember. It is worth searching for!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Graduation Gifts

I haven't put anything crafty on my blog in quite a while, but I have been busy behind the scenes!

My niece, Riley, had several friends graduate this month and wanted a simple, personal gift to give to them, so this is what we came up with!

(edited to add: these purses are based on a template from this blog. I really should have given her credit for coming up with the idea!)

Here is one put together:

The pen cap is beaded and the notebook is just a covered mini composition book, like this:

Here are some of the cards I made for graduation:

Finally, here is the card I made for my mom for graduation!
More craft stuff coming tomorrow! Then back to the exciting, or at least muddy, adventures of my family!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Little Science

Just thought I’d share a few discoveries from the last week or so.

The first photos are of an egg casing I found on a sugar snap plant in our garden. We put it in a labeled jar to see what hatches! Any guesses? We are looking through some of our books for an answer, but nothing yet!

Here is a ground beetle FRitW found in the yard. We have seen lots of these over the years. Kirk caught this one and we observed him a bit, and then released him. You can see how big he is by comparing the insect to FRitW’s finger right next to the jar.

Tuesday morning, as Dad was heading out for work, he thought he heard one of the kids tapping on their window to tell him good-bye, but saw no one. He then realized it was one of our resident woodpeckers in one of the trees right in front of our house. He came back in to get me to come out and see it. It was a Pileated Woodpecker. Neither of us had ever seen such a large woodpecker. Later, the kids and I headed outside to look for it and found two! They were calling back and forth to each other and flying back and forth between a couple of trees. To see a photo and hear the call go to this website. The woodpecker was so funny to watch this morning. I told Dad that I could definitely see where the cartoonists came up with 'Woody Woodpecker'!

We planted these snapdragons because they are a host plant for the Buckeye butterfly. We found this out completely by accident one year when our flowers were covered with caterpillars and cocoons. We brought a cocoon inside to develop to see if it was a beneficial insect. When the butterfly hatched we decided to sacrifice all of our snapdragons to these cute little guys. We had literally hundreds of Buckeyes fluttering around and the snapdragons came back the next fall and spring!

Again we have toads. These three were found while moving pavers to build Dad’s belated birthday patio. This time, MT actually held one!

Final photos for today are of FRitW’s current insect pet. He loves to catch crickets, and roly polys, and grasshoppers, and anything he can find that moves! After reading about crickets, he decided that his cricket needed some dirt to dig in and picked a strawberry from Mimi’s garden because crickets like to eat juicy fruits. (Update: this morning the strawberry pieces were gone! Today Mr. Cricket got a piece of a grape.)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Kirk is happy! He usually is, but electronics and music usually up the happiness factor. Yesterday he got an electric guitar. His first lesson was today. The little guys already think he plays like a pro and happily dance and sing along!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goin' Fishin'

Nothing caps a beautiful weekend off like an evening of fishing. Except an evening of fishing in Papa & Mimi’s stocked pond where the fish are biting but the bugs are not! We caught more than 25 fish in just a few hours. None were big enough to eat, but it was so much fun!

<-----Catching minnows and tadpoles.

                                 Baiting her own hook --->

Big brother, little fish; Little brother, big fish


         Catch and RELEASE!!!

Ooops! Caught a Red-headed Maggie Fish!

MT and Cocoa helping Papa fish.

Papa wasn't too sure about me taking a picture of him with his tiny fish (especially when you compare it to FRitW's not so tiny fish at left), but I thought it was neat because it proves that the fish are breeding!

Cocoa hanging out with his buddy!

Dad hanging out with his buddy!

Time to head home!