This week I unplugged my kids. It's not that they watch all that much TV or play all that many video games, but I had noticed a change. For years we've had "movie time". It's always been about the 30 min before dinner- while I am cooking. But then the time gradually got a little longer. Thanks to Netflix the boys have a plethora of things to watch- and cycle through their favorites- X-men, He-man, Garfield, Inspector Gadget. (and I get to re-live all those shows I watched when I was a kid....) And with Annika waking up from her nap just before I make dinner, Paul getting home just after we usually eat, dinner time gradually got later and movie time stayed the same. So that 30 min turned into an hour or more. Then they got a Wii a year ago and that tech time has been added in. Again- they only get about 20 min each. But times 4 and the fact that they all watch each other- that's a lot of screen time.

We were beginning to have issues.
Issues with bickering and rudeness
Issues with boredom
Issues with whining about those movies and video games.

So I cut them off. Told them they were unplugged for a week. No movie, no Wii, no computer except for school.

There was some whining. Some complaining. Lots of "why!?!"

But you know what? They survived. And so did I .

Plus I could really tell a difference in all of them. Their attitudes improved. They argued less.

And They got busy.

Spent more time out back in the farm yard. Spoiled their chickens something awful. Taught them "tricks". They will be our tamest birds yet.

They got a lot of work done on their projects for the fair. Plus some extra ones too. They discovered making things out of duct tape. And all I can say is thank goodness Paul gets it at a discount from work.

So Sunday they are able to plug back in. But I think I will make some changes. And I will probably be periodically repeating this week. It did everyone a lot of good.


The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

We have passion flowers growing wild in our back yard.

And it just so happens that the passion flower is the food of choice for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly. Which, as a caterpillar, is orange and spiky. Some have more stripes, some more orange.

We've done this before- a couple years ago. So this year when the caterpillars started to appear, we pulled a few vines and brought them inside. We started with 3. Then Cale couldn't help himself and brought in a few more. And we ended up with a couple of unseen eggs that hatched into tiny baby caterpillars. And of course when the boys went to fetch more food, there always seemed to be just one more on the vine.

And throughout the past few weeks we've been able to watch these insects grow and change. And we've also gotten a lesson in survival of the fittest. We started with 3 chrysalises- one looked good, the others a little funny. Those funny one's didn't make it. One didn't stand a chance, one looked like it died while trying to emerge. Then we had a couple attempt to turn on the floor of the tent as opposed to hanging. They didn't get too far.

That is not a healthy chrysalis. Another was hanging, looking great. Almost ready to make the change from a caterpillar to chrysalis. Then it turned black and fell. We have 2 more caterpillars and 2 more healthy chrysalises that should open within a day or so. And 2 have emerged so far.

The first emergence was last week and we saved the butterfly all morning until our co-op met and released it then. I didn't get too many- or any- good pictures of that one. Too chaotic.

But this one emerged this morning. We found it seconds after, still wet and wrinkled.

It rested and by mid-morning it was fluttering around and ready to be released.

I absolutely love the coloring of these butterflies. And between the passion flowers they lay eggs on, and the cosmos they love to drink from. We get our fair share of them in our yard.

My boys love this part.

Good thing that when they are brand new they don't quite fly as much .

Everyone got their fair share of holding it, and fetching it from the window it kept making it's way over to.

Until finally the door was opened and it flew out into the sky.


From My Camera

My baking buddy...

Baby in a bucket
Going for a ride with Daddy

Going for a ride with Rylan

Working on projects

Working with clay

More bugs in jars in my living room

Feeding said bug in a jar
The bug that's destroying my eggplant (and what the bug-in-a-jar is eating)

Baby watermelon

Morning Glories

Lots of Morning Glories

Hummingbird, way up in the tree. Do you see it?

8 months old, playing with ribbon

8 months old today....and I've lost my favorite portrait chair due to mobility.


Polpette di Melanzane

Okay, so really they are just baked eggplant balls but the Italian name sounds nicer.

Our eggplant plant are very prolific this year and aside from breaded, baked and topped with cheese and sauce I was having trouble finding something that the kids would eat.

Then I made these and they gobbled them up.

3 large eggplants (or a variety of small ones, usually I cover 2 baking sheets with the sliced eggplant)
~2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1 egg
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
salt and pepper to taste
A handful of fresh basil and oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
olive oil

First peel and slice the eggplant and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-45 min at 350*.

When they are done, transfer them to the food processor. Add in the onion and garlic and blend until smooth. Stir in the egg, Parmesan and bread crumbs. Add the fresh herbs and pulse to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Spray your baking sheets and form the mixture into "meatballs". It should be soft, but workable. Bake at 350* for about 25 minutes until golden and slightly crusty.

Serve plain, with tomato sauce or over pasta.


The Nature Center

On my table:

2 grasshoppers in a glass jar.

On my coffee table:

3 tadpoles in a tank.

In my dining room:

4 caterpillars and 4 chrysalises in a tent.

On my hearth:A catfish, sharks, loaches, a dinosaur fish and a clown knife fish in a 6ft, 125 gal tank.

Arctic/Inuit Games

"Blanket Toss"

Ac Sa Raq/ Inuit Tug-o-War

Aratsiaq/ One Foot High Kick

An explorer relay race...

"Bone" soap carving