Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mantises, Fireflies, and Smells

Smelly News

I was taking a relaxing shower the other night and.... guess what? It suddenly came to me why we have a smell in Emily's room. It's amazing how clearly one can think when the kids have been in bed a few hours. lol

Last time she was ill, in April, I put a cool mist humidifier near her crib. It happened to be the ultrasonic type, which works best on croup; Daniel had that twice a year for four years. Ultrasonic mist kept us out of the emergency room on more than one occasion. Anyway, they really put out a lot of moisture, which I thought I had caught with the towels I put underneath it. I'm sure now that some moisture traveled under her crib, and then didn't dry quickly enough, due to the cooler temperatures in that room.

Now that the crib has been removed and that area is free of any furniture, the smell is about gone. We plan to shampoo the carpet all through the house, and that will hopefully take care of any residual smell in her room. I seriously doubt that it's actually mold.

Insect News

My husband works for a rich school district, in a preschool through second-grade school. The high property values mean the teachers get lots of great materials. My husband is well liked there, despite being the only goody-goody Christian among a whole host of drinkers and party-goers. He takes ample opportunities to share his faith, but he's also a very non-judgmental guy. I am amazed at the weekend antics he hears about - news the individuals themselves share with him - not gossip. I taught in California, in a 350,000 pop. high-desert community (in San Bernardino County), with mainly morally conservative teachers; Don has met few here in Ohio that meet that description. Kind of funny, since California is the state with the free-spirited reputation.

Anyway, teachers give him Scholastic News magazines that we can use for social studies, as well as science materials like live caterpillars. Some goodies end up in the trash, which my husband thankfully rescues and brings home to enhance our curriculum. Our butterfly garden was actually fished out of the trash, much to Daniel's on-going delight. It is large enough to handle dragonflies, butterflies and moths. Daddy and Daniel have both been enjoying it, although Daniel is still learning to let go when it's time to free one of his creatures. We don't want anything to die in captivity, so we instituted a three-day rule, unless the creature is easy to feed and we have an ample-size habitat for it.

Last summer or early fall, Daniel and Daddy caught a praying mantis, and set up a nice habitat for it in a large aquarium. While in there, it made an egg case, which we saved all through the winter and spring. When nothing happened by late spring, we thought it must be a dud, but my husband put it in some tupperware, and put it on top of a bookshelf, just in case it might be viable. We forgot about it for a few weeks, but the other day Don was looking for something on top of that bookshelf, and noticed that the tupperware was full of tiny mantises. Imagine my insect lovers' delight! It was like Christmas for Daddy and Daniel!

They let most of them go, and kept just a few. However, it turned out to be very difficult to find tiny insects for them to eat, so Don released the rest of them. Daniel was heartbroken, until he started finding baby grasshoppers the following day, to occupy his attention. If we ever end up with another egg sac, we will be more prepared to feed babies, for Daniel's sake.

We are looking forward to seeing some adult praying mantises later this summer, as up to a hundred were released in our yard. Surely, a least ten of the hundred might survive? I hope so, for their sakes.

Fireflies aren't out yet, and I have two eager boys more than ready to light up their room with bugs. Should be any day now. It's amazing what eye-hand coordination develops while one is catching fireflies! The boys became so good at it last summer.

Hope everything is well with you, and that you have lots of fun things lighting up your lives!

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