Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Congratulations to Tamara of Tea for Three for randomly winning our caterpillar identification contest!  Be sure to contact us directly at info (at) littleacornlearning.com to claim your free e-book!~
For those of you who guessed it, you were correct;  the Mourning Cloak Butterfly or Nymphalis Antiopa is the type of butterfly our little caterpillar will turn into.

One of the larger species of butterflies, Mourning Cloaks live a longer life than most.  They can often live up to 10 months as adults and grow to be almost 2 inches in length.  This butterfly's wings act as "solar panels" and collect the heat of the sun to warm its blood in its wings in order to allow for sufficient flight.

When the caterpillars grow to be full sized, they will leave their siblings and the plant they were hosting on to go look for a place to pupate.  Once it finds an ideal place, the caterpillar will hang by silk and shed its skin once again (it sheds up to 5x!) and go into the pupal stage where it will form into a chrysalis.

After about 10-15 days the butterfly will emerge!  These butterflies will eat various leaves of trees.  An interesting fact about this butterfly is that it will hibernate over the winter!  Yes, it will hide under bark or loose debris.  It stays there still until the cold temperatures pass.  That is one of the reasons it lives such a long life.  The longest life of any North American butterfly.  This hibernation is also why they are often the first butterflies seen in early Spring.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about this special insect.  Stay tuned for more fun identification contests by Little Acorn Learning.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Name that Caterpillar (An Identification Contest)

It's so hard to get back into the rhythm of life after a tragedy but I know its the only way we can move forward so I am pushing myself.

I'd like to challenge my readers (and their children) once again to do a little research and learn a little more about nature in the process.  This little guy came to visit me on my back deck at a time when I was feeling really down.  He is beautiful and curious.  
Can you name that caterpillar?  If so, post here in comment and leave a link with your "proof" if you have it.  Will he become a butterfly or moth?  Moms and Dads - even if it is easy for you to identify him, let your children take the lead (with you as their guide) to do it themselves.  The library has many identification books for you to take home or if your child is old enough there are many tools online as well.  

On Monday, June 24th after 8 p.m. I will randomly select a name from the comments section.  The winner will receive any e-book on the Little Acorn Learning Website for FREE!  

Best of luck!~  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Peace Dear Eric

This is how I choose to remember you.  As a loving, hands-on, fun and an adored father.  All of those crazy morning drop-offs, forgotten lunches and silly laughs... I will remember Ryder jumping up and running into your arms hard enough to push you over at pick-up time and Avery talking endlessly about how talented you were and how she has a camera too just like Daddy.  I will remember you inspiring me with your creativity and telling me I was an artist and should pursue that part of me more when we spoke and I shared my hobbies with you.  I will remember how much you loved Amber and how envious I was of the love you both shared... as partners, best friends and lovers.  You will be so missed.  There is a hole in the hearts of everyone who met you.  Thank you for the light you brought to us while you were here.  I promise to be a part of Avery, Ryder and your new child's life and give them love and a warm place to visit whenever they need it.


Friday, June 14, 2013

End of Year Celebrations

The school year is coming to an end and its a very busy time for us.  With four daughters we can get pretty backed up with parties and concerts around this time of year.  I was lucky this year to be able to kill THREE birds with one stone on this particular day!  So I may as well do the same with blogging about them too :) 
At 6:15 a.m. the day began with preparations for the Academic Breakfast at Keira's middle school.  The PTO works so hard to organize this event each year and it is a wonderful honor for the children in school who have proven academic success.  Parents and students enjoy breakfast together and children are recognized by the principal for their hard work.
Many of Keira's friends were there and they are all such sweet girls.  I feel so lucky that my daughter has such nice and kind friends in school.  I know these years will not be easy but she has formed some wonderful friendships and bonds that I'm sure will help her along the way.
After that wonderful event, I headed over to Maia's 3rd Grade End of the Year Party!  
Another sweet group of kids and a lot of fun was had with snacks, games and a simple craft.  The children are looking forward to summertime and this was a nice way for them to enjoy some time together before school is out next week.
Then last but certainly not least, I headed over to Brianna's End of the Year Party in the courtyard of her school.  
The children enjoyed games and crafts.  It was so awesome to see Brianna actively participating in the games, laughing with her friends and talking.  A dream come true.  She and her friend were the last survivors in the water balloon toss.  That thing would not break!
She was so proud of herself.

And of course the party wouldn't have been a party without the ducklings.  They are being sent to a loving farm to live together.  They are so bonded and sweet.  The children love it when they make patterns like this.

Here is Brianna with one of her closest little friends.  Another sweet girl and the first girl Bree went on a playdate with... ever.  I feel so lucky that my children are all so happy this year and I pray for another good year for them when they return in the Fall.
Sadly, my friend Eric Langlois is still missing.  Tons of friends and family have devoted countless hours searching for him.  We have not given up hope but so much time has passed.  I am praying for a miracle for his sweet children and young wife.  Please join me in my efforts.  Last night a friend and I went to look around where he became missing.  The strong rains have made everything so difficult.  I can't imagine what his family is going through each day and night that passes without him.
We know our chances are slipping away but we refuse to give up hope.  #findericlanglois

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keira's Ice Skating Performance and a Prayer Request

My pretty girl is growing up so much.  I look at these pictures of her and I just can't believe that this beautiful young woman was once in my arms.  This past weekend was Keira's end of the school year Ice Skating Performance.  She was looking so forward to it and practiced so hard.

The song she chose was Taylor Swift's song to her mother, The Best Day.  She loves the song so much and told me that it reminds her of me.  This is how sweet my girl is.  For Mother's Day she wrote me her own version of the lyrics just for me.  Whenever I hear the song I get tears in my eyes.

We love you sweet Keira.  You are a light in this world.  You are a model of goodness and kindness.  You are my inspiration.

I am also asking that anyone who reads my blog and prays will do so for a friend and daycare dad of mine who has gone missing while mountain biking.  His two children were in my daycare for many years and his wife is expecting a new baby.  They have been looking for him for two days.  Our hearts are heavy.
Thank you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Gray Treefrog

Yes my brilliant readers!  THAT was a Gray Treefrog!  Many of you guessed it correctly... I was surprised because the bumps threw us off until we did a bit more research.  We were sure he was a toad.  
The random winner of our Name This Amphibian Contest is Nicole Elizabeth of My Rhythm and Rhyme in Motherhood!  Please contact us at info (at) littleacornlearning.com to let us know which e-book you would like for FREE from Little Acorn Learning!  

The Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) is able to change colors very quickly and adjusts to the color of his surroundings based on the weather or to camouflage himself.  He can range from gray to green, black or even white.  
One of the telltale signs of this beautiful creature is the orange/yellow underside of his legs.  This was the marker that helped us identify him after doing some further research.
Our little frog was super fast and was able to climb up the side of a very deep Tupperware no problem!  This is because treefrogs have toes that produce a sticky substance that allows their toe pads to act as suction cups as they climb vertical surfaces (like trees!).

These frogs are usually no larger than 2 inches long.  Ours was very close to 2 inches so it was mature and possibly a female.  The female does not croak and her throat is usually white while the male does croak and has a black or darker throat.  They usually live between 7 to 9 years out in the wild.

This type of frog is known in the Eastern part of the United States.  While it is not an endangered species yet, the population of this species is dwindling in Connecticut due to development, climate change, pollution and other reasons.  It made us feel good to know that our backyard is a safe haven for these special frogs.  

They look for deep forests with natural water sources to thrive.  They are also nocturnal (we found ours during the day though!).  They hardly ever come down from treetops unless they are breeding... and this is that time of year so we assume that is what our little frog was up to.  And now that we've heard their sound, we know what that loud noise is we've been hearing out back these last few weeks all night long!  

Listen for yourself!

The most amazing thing we learned about this frog is that "It actually freezes in the winter! The green treefrog produces large amounts of  glycerol. The glycerol is changed to glucose and then it is circulated through the frog's cells. The glucose acts like kind of antifreeze and prevents ice crystals from forming in the cells. If ice crystals formed in the cells, they would rip the cells apart and kill the frog. The rest of the water and blood in the frogs body then freezes and its heartbeat and breathing stop! When the temperature warms up, the treefrog "thaws out" and returns to the trees!" (Source:  http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/graytreefrog.htm)

Thank you all for participating in this fun contest.  I hope it was a great way for you to learn more with your children about these wonderful frogs!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kindergarten Spring Concert

This has been such a wonderful year of growth for Brianna.  She has been so lucky to have an absolutely wonderful Kindergarten experience.  I have watched her form strong bonds with her classmates and teachers, learn how to read, wake up with excitement to go to school and blossom into a confident and happy little girl.  I'm so thankful.
This week she had her Spring Concert at school.  It was a farming theme and the children were so adorable singing together.  Brianna has had the most amazing teacher this year.  She is what a Kindergarten teacher should be.  She puts emphasis on imagination and play and is kind, nurturing and in control of her classroom. She's so wonderful that she received Teacher of the Year.  We are very lucky to have had her and will miss her so much.
Brianna's class even incubated and raised ducklings this year.  It was an amazing hands-on experience for her and the children. We considered keeping a few until we did our homework and realized how much care and upkeep was involved, especially during the winter months.  Ducks are wonderful but are a ton of work and are very messy.
The concert was adorable.  I had received a note from Brianna's teacher awhile back telling me how compassionate and kind she was.  There is a girl in Bree's class with Downs Syndrome and Brianna has modeled true acceptance, love and kindness to the fullest extent.  She loves her friend and spends her lunches sitting with her each day and playing with her.  She knows she needs extra help but never once did it occur to her that she was any less special than herself.  I'm so proud of my girl for who she is and how she brings that love into the world each day.
There were so many times when I stressed out about my children's education.  We all want to do what is best for our children and I would keep myself up at night because I couldn't find a way to offer them all a Waldorf Education.  I considered homeschooling and tried it for awhile here and there.  But, the truth is that my girls' public school education really has been a good one so far.  They have met children from so many other backgrounds, religions, nationalities and needs.  They have learned what it is to be part of a family outside of their own family and how important community is.  There are many things that I would change if I could but life is not perfect and I do not want to create utopia for my children.  I just want them to have a positive experience overall and develop into happy and healthy human beings.
I have come to a place of gratitude for these experiences for my girls and our access to good, quality public schools.  I am embracing their schooling experience and reminding myself of how very lucky they are.  So many children in the world do not have these amazing opportunities.  So many girls all over the world are fighting just for the right to learn at all.  All this time, I have tried my best to find the right environment to teach my girls in ...
Yet, each day it is my daughters who end up teaching me the real lessons in life.  How lucky I am that they chose me to be their mother.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Name this Amphibian and Win a Free E-Book!

Ok, I'm on a kick here.  This identification game is just too much fun.  Today at our pool we found this amazing creature.
Looks like an albino toad of some sort doesn't he?

Here are some clues.  He is smaller than 2 inches I would say.  Very fast and can climb up the side of a deep Tupperware with no problem.  He jumped in our pool and swam all the way down to the deep end and back up again.
It's not so easy to identify.  Think you can?  Give it a try and link here in comments with your best guess.  The winner will be randomly chosen by comments (not by answer).  We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this little guy as well.
Best of luck to you!  We will choose a winner on Tuesday the 11th after 8 p.m. EST and give them a free e-book of their choosing from Little Acorn Learning.  Be sure to check back.

Wildflower Identification Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Ivy League West for being randomly picked to win a free Midsummer Festival E-Book from Little Acorn Learning after entering our Wildflower Identification Contest!

You all did a great job trying to identify our two wild flowers.  We are pretty confident that Flower A is Wild Rose and Flower B is Honeysuckle.

Get ready for another fun nature identification contest coming up later today!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Can You Identify these Flowers? A Contest!

Something I love to do lately is take a walk around my yard and identify trees, wildflowers and other living things.  Its so wonderful to know the real names of the beautiful living things on my property and it really interests me.
This shrub flowers each early summer and today I was able to confirm that it is Mountain Laurel.  It is our state's flower.  I thought it was pretty neat to teach our daughters that.  It is very beautiful but can also be poisonous (see how important it is to know what is on your land?).  Native American Indians were said to use it in a drink to commit suicide at times.  I am not sure how much truth there is to that but I found it interesting.  In either case, children and pets should keep away from it and especially never eat any part of it.

I thought it would be fun to have a little identification contest here on my blog.  Here are two more pretty white flowers that I found along my walk today.  I'm not sure if they are wildflowers or the beginning of berries.

Can you correctly identify these two flowers?  

Flower A:

Flower B:
If so, please leave a comment here with a link to some proof of your identification.  I will then randomly pick two winners to win a FREE Midsummer Festival E-Book from Little Acorn Learning on Friday, June 7th after 8 p.m. EST.

Good luck and have fun! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Make a Discovery Ant House

Summer is right around the corner and Rhythm of the Home has just released their beautiful Summer Edition to inspire us!  We are so proud to have our Discovery Ant House featured this season.  
Our children absolutely LOVED this activity and learned so much from the experience.  We hope you enjoy it too and if you decide to make one, please link back to us here so we can see how it came out!