Sunday, April 16, 2017

4-H Butterfly Emergence Project: Part 2

If you happen to be curious about caterpillar growth and you missed Part 1 of our project, you can go check out how TINY our caterpillars were to begin with at this link right here.  You can also find a little bit of info over there about how we ended up with 12 caterpillars dining with us each day at our kitchen table.  This homeschooling life is an adventure, no doubt!

In an effort not to bore you with daily photos that aren't showing much as the week has progressed, we'll skip to Day 13.

Caterpillars number 1 and 2 that I was originally photographing in the part 1 blog post are still incredibly small.  Honestly, if it weren't for the occasional movement that I have witnessed, I would believe that they are dead.  It's also concerning that there isn't many holes in their food meaning they haven't eaten much and as mentioned before caterpillars eat the majority of their food and nutrients now in the caterpillar stage.

Day 13 Photos--

In our training, it was said that it should take 7-10 days for the caterpillars to get through the first stage of life and move onto making their chrysalis.  However, it was also mentioned that they enjoy light and warmth, ideally 85 degrees.  Our house is definitely not 85 degrees, and we have had several cooler temperature days in this last week.  Hoping the ones who have progressed will begin to move onto phase two of their life cycle this week as it warms up.

Above is caterpillar number 11.  This is more of what some of the others look like, though still all varying sizes.  The varying degrees of growth is not something that I was anticipating.  I sort of assumed they would all hit each phase at the same time and that we would have one butterfly release at the end-- but at this rate, we may be releasing a few at a time.  You can see that big black spot in front of it which is an exoskeleton that it has shed during a molt. 

Caterpillar number 6 which is the second largest of the twelve pictured up above.  You can see lots of frass (poop) and there is a lot less food in this one's cup.

And above is caterpillar number 5 which has been the biggest one from the start of our project.  There's hardly any food in his/her habitat, and I'm unable to take a photo with the lid off because of all the silk around it.  Plus, this one is currently lying upside down so I'm hoping that means we might be headed to phase 2 (chrysalis) and I do not want to disturb it.  Hopefully there is some excitement to come in the next few days!

Day 18 Photos--

In the last 2-3 days, we now have our very first two fully formed Chrysalis.  As expected, they are our larger caterpillars number 5 and 6 that we have been documenting closely.  I transferred them over to the mesh bag today so that when the butterflies emerge from them, they have space to move and fly.  Now more waiting.

Have no fear, the bag stays zipped!  No butterflies will be roaming the house. 

We have one more caterpillar that has attached to the lid and formed it's "J" shape so it should be a Chrysalis within the next day or so I would believe.  (Caterpillar number 11)

... And we also have 3 very large caterpillars that are still roaming and eating their fill of their caterpillar food goop.  (Numbers 3, 4 and 9)

And sadly, I think we have one caterpillar death.  One tiny, tiny, tiny one that just hasn't grown.  We're keeping an eye on it, but I fear that it's been a goner.  All part of the life cycle learning process I suppose.

Just more watching and waiting and observing.  Another update to come!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Leeland turns 7!

Tonight we celebrated the biggest kid.  The one who made us parents first. 

On this day seven years ago, we were nervous, anxious, smitten and in total awe of this little boy that God has gifted us with.  

Our celebration tonight with family consisted of Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins running amuck.  After seven years, I think we're finally finding our groove when it comes to parties, and it doesn't seem to get any better with excellent grilling weather each April.  

We had burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, deviled eggs, chips, baked beans.... And of course cake!  Pikachu chocolate cake to be exact along with some "energy ball" Pokemon cookies. 

Pokemon is the latest craze in the Kroh house with cards everywhere and binders taken here and there for trading with friends all the time.  One of his favorite Pokemon cards happens to be his awesome birthday invite though.  ("Venue" blurred out for obvious reasons.)

Not much brings me greater joy than spoiling my children.  And I'm so thankful that we have family and friends who love them and enjoy spoiling them too.

Our Leeland is kind, genuine, and smart.  He tells it like it is, is curious, and he's one fantastic big brother to his younger siblings.  I'm excited and thankful that I get to watch him grow year after year. I can't wait to see what God has in store for his future and continue to pray that his light shines bright.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

4-H Butter Fly Emergence Project: Part 1

We are not members of 4-H, but they offer some wonderful resources to local teachers and schools, one of them is a yearly project learning about science and life cycles.  Typically it involves incubating fertilized chicken eggs and getting to see them hatch and later returning the baby chicks to 4-H.  Awesome, right?  We were so excited to participate for the first time with our boys (and homeschool) this year, and then the bird flu happened in neighboring states and sadly 4-H was not able to get the eggs from their distributor.  In an effort to still offer something to those who had signed up to incubate eggs, the idea of butterflies was brought to the table.  I asked the boys how they felt about it and naturally they were thrilled!  So while several teachers dropped out of the project as they were not interested in butterflies, we carried on and here we are.

While I'm absolutely NOT a caterpillar or butterfly expert, and am learning right alongside of the boys with this one, I thought it would be fun to document our findings here.

The caterpillars were shipped to the agricultural extension on Wednesday, March 29th and we picked them up at our information meeting the afternoon of March 30th.

For the sake of tracking and observing, we will say that these pictures taken on Friday March 31st are day 3 for the caterpillars growth.  They are much smaller than I was expecting, but I'm told they grow very fast.  These are "Painted Lady Butterflies" and like all butterflies, their life cycle is comprised of 3 stages-- Larval stage which lasts 7-10 days (caterpillar), Pupal stage another 7-10 days (chrysalis) and adult stage which is is 2-3 weeks (butterfly).   There are 17,000 different species of butterflies and the Painted Lady butterfly is found on every continent except Antartica and Australia.

Day 3 Photos--

Our 12 caterpillars.  We've numbered the bottoms of the cups to track them and observe them.  The beige "goop" is their food.  The majority of their eating in their life is done as a caterpillar.  They are getting all of their nutrients for growth now, and once they are butterflies they only eat to sustain energy.

To my knowledge, the little sand looking granules in the photos is frass.  Frass is the caterpillar word for poop.  Naturally one of my children who is prone to potty humor, loved learning about this part.

Later on we will begin to see black specks in the cups which is from them molting.  They will molt and shed their exoskeleton up to 5 times before they form their chrysalis.   

So far, we just know that they like light, warmth and they eat a lot. 

Day 4 Photos--

Day 5 Photos--

So all of the photos thus far the last few days have been of only caterpillar number 1 and number 2.  Taking pictures of the same caterpillars each day gives a more precise picture of growth and what's happening.  But today, our biggest caterpillar number 5 has silk all around it and it looks super interesting.  None of the others look like this-- it's almost like a spider web around it.  Wondering if caterpillar number 5 may actually be older than the others simply because of it's size and the amount of silk it has produced.  Maybe we'll start seeing the chrysalis in a few days?

Day 6 Photos--
Oops!  My apologies, no photos on this day.

Day 7 Photos--

So now that we are a week into this project, I'm realizing that I randomly picked the smallest two caterpillars to photo for progress.  Yep, caterpillars 1 and 2, which I have been following all week, are indeed the tiniest of the bunch.  I can still see that they have grown since the first pictures, just not as much or as fast as some of the others.  Hopefully they develop and grow soon because here is what numbers 5 and 6 look like currently.

.... More photos to come in future "parts" of our project.  Channeling my inner Ms. Frizzle!

** You can check out our Part 2 Post over here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Baby FOUR is......

The guessing game has come to an end as we got a peek at our precious little babe Thursday and found out the gender of our fourth little one as a family today.  I applaud all of you Moms and Dads out there who are able to wait until birth!!  Seriously.  That takes some amazing strength.  I tried hard with the third, and this time I just knew that I did't want another ugly cry meltdown over it.  Haha!

Seeing this precious little one the other day was the biggest treat of all.  Even the fourth time through, I'm just in awe at technology and the beauty of God's creation.  Even more exciting that this was Daniel's first time seeing baby number 4, and hearing baby's heartbeat live rather than a recording on my phone from a doctor's appointment.

Tiny little baby feet


This sweet little face just has me an awe.  They estimate that baby only weighs 10 ounces.  Can you believe the beauty of God's creation?  Just AWE! 

Over the last 19 weeks, my ideas for a gender reveal have changed and evolved and in the last couple weeks we had to change our original plan because space and time was not on our side.  With a little improvisation though, we're super excited that we were still able to have a little fun with the reveal and find out together as a family of 5.  (Which was the end goal!)  They don't allow children under the age of 7 in the ultrasound room at the doctor's office (totally understandable) so the important thing was just being surprised with the big boys and having them involved.

I have no doubt that many of you just scrolled right through the above in excitement.  I would probably do the same if I'm really honest with you, so without further ado, baby number four is....

20 weeks on Monday!!  So we are half way to meeting our first baby girl.  We can't wait to meet you Evelyn!! Keep praying that she grows healthy and strong.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

The guessing game!

I thought it would be fun to build up the excitement a little with some guessing games in regards to number four's gender before we find out.  This pregnancy has thrown me for a loop.  It has definitely felt different!  (In more than one way.)  But the question is, does it feel different because we are adding our first little girl to our family? OR does it feel different simply because it only took FOUR times for my body to finally figure out how to be pregnant?  Ha!!

Let's go through some wives tales and see what they say:
  • Carrying high-- girl
  • Baby's heart rate over 140-- girl
  • Sweet cravings-- girl
  • LESS morning sickness-- boy
  • Acne-- girl
  • A "ball looking" bump-- boy
  • Craving less protein-- girl
  • Happy mood-- boy
  • Headaches-- boy
  • Age + month of conception (even number)-- boy
A little bit all over the place to say the least when it comes to the wives tales.  And the reality is that when I was pregnant with the other three, predictions were all over the place too.  

So naturally I decided to take a closer look at some other tests....
  1. The Chinese calendar-- girl
  2. Pencil test-- boy
  3. Urine/baking soda test-- girl
  4. Ring on a string test-- girl
So we're up to 8 tests that say girl and 6 tests that say boy! 

Our ultrasound with our doctor is scheduled for March 16th.  It's taking everything in me to not go up to Tiny Toes and pay for the gender ultrasound, which is REALLY REALLY weird for me.  Every time before this one, I have thought doing something like that would be a total waste of money and it didn't make sense to me why people don't just wait.   At this point, we are not planning to find out right away in the ultrasound room-- we are wanting to do some sort of reveal as a family.  Of course all of that is pending my emotions don't take over and boil into an ugly cry like last time we thought we would wait to find out. Haha!

The reality is that I don't really care what baby's gender is.  (Although I do want to know either way!) I know the common assumption that I hear anytime someone hears that I'm pregnant is that I want a girl, or that they are praying we have a girl, or that we must have been "trying for" a girl.... but it really doesn't matter to me.  Sure, a girl would be a first for us and that would bring about some new excitement, but the reality is that I LOVE being a boy Mom too!  They are so sweet and so fun.  This pregnancy being different, along with some chronic health issues has brought about some anxiety about the little one that I have the privilege to carry, and I just pray that no matter the gender, our precious little one is healthy and I'm thankful for the honor and excitement to bring another baby into our family!  Join me in praying for a healthy baby.

...But of course in the spirit of excitement, what's your guess?  Were the wives tales accurate for you?  Anymore tests or tales that I should look in to?