Wednesday, August 31, 2011

30 Days of Lists: my list book

Since 30 Days of Lists starts tomorrow, I had to get a journal/notebook/collection of papers to make my lists in.  Now, for anyone who knows me really well, you'll recognize right away how this book goes against everything that is ME.  I'm using a store-bought notebook.  Yup.  That's right.  I didn't even decorate it.  Yes, it will most likely hurt me physically to write in this book.

Here's the deal:  When we found out we were going to be moving to England for three years, I had to decide what things I could live without in order to cut down on the amount of stuff being shipped here.  Even though I used my papercraft supplies much more frequently than my knitting and sewing supplies, I knew it all couldn't come with me (after all, I do have too many hobbies).  Previously, just for papercraft, I had a desk, a rolling drawer system FULL of stuff, a huge wooden shelf system my dad made for my ink pads, five or six magazine files for card stock, and bins and bins of rubber stamps.  I wish I had a photo to show you the true magnitude of the amount of stuff I have.  So.  It had to go into storage.  I believe just the contents of everything filled 10+ banker boxes.  *wince*

Anyway, that was a lot of words just to say that I don't have the means to put together a little book for this 30 Days project, which, let's face it, is half the fun.  I know that a little hole punch and some binder rings certainly wouldn't break the bank, but I already have at least two hole punches, and binder rings in many sizes hidden in some boxes somewhere in upstate NY, so I couldn't really justify buying more. 

So here it is.  I got it at Target while I still lived in the US.  It's recycled paper, and the pages are part banana leaves!  It was a set of three, and I'm already loving one of them full of lists at the moment, so I figured, why not carry it on?  The first one is lined with a title box at the top of each page.  I use it for everyday lists.  The one I'm using for 30 Days is blank pages.  I figure I can at least have some fun writing the lists since I didn't get to make a fancy book to write them in.  The third one is grid paper, which I might have to use for sewing notes.  Oh my, this is SUCH a long post just to show you this notebook.  *cheeky grin*



Let the list-making begin!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

30 Days of Lists starts in two

I originally talked about this in this post30 Days of Lists starts in two days!  I am a list fanatic so naturally this called to me.  I'm looking forward to a month-long challenge that isn't going to take up much of my time.  My pre-child self would have loved any month-long adventure that took up loads of time.  I'm compulsive like that.  I'll dive head first into something, and then fizzle out (or at least mellow out) in a month or two; so short-lived challenges are good for me.  But these days, as much as I still love a good challenge, I just don't have the time anymore. Jotting down a quick list each day, which is something I do regularly anyway, just fits ME right now.  Yes, I'm looking forward to this.  Who's with me??  There's still time to sign up, get on it! *grin*

Join 30 Days of Lists

Monday, August 29, 2011

*gulp* my first selfie

As promised, I started taking some self-portraits. Now, I typically live my days in ponytails, bare-faced, no jewelry, and pretty basic clothing. My kids don't care if I did my hair today, so neither do I. Should I? Probably. So I've been trying to make more of an effort to make myself look like I leave the house once in a while. This weekend I had one of those days where I felt like taking a little time for myself. Granted it was only about 3 minutes longer than normal, but I need quick. And the quicker I can look nice, the more I'm apt to do it more often. I guess it should be a sign that mama needs to spend some time on herself when both kids noticed how different I looked. Since I took the time to change out of my ponytail, I figured I should try to get some pictures. I just took some quick arms-length shots while Mr. R was watching tv. I'm certainly not ready for an audience yet.


I did very minimal editing. I'm still working on learning GIMP, and haven't decided to part with the measly $20 for the extra features on Picnik yet, so I was limited in what I could do; not that I want to change so much that it wouldn't be me anymore. So? How did I do for my first selfie?

Friday, August 26, 2011

{this moment}

A new Friday ritual (for me). A single photo - no words (almost) - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Inspired by SouleMama


 
I just learned how to make an animated gif (I know, where have I been?), so I thought I would share my first attempt for my moment this week.

If you're inspired to do the same, hop over to SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1 every 7, not 1 every 1 for 365

I found out about this 365 days of self-portraits just today.  You know how it goes: I was reading one blog, that linked to another, that linked to another, that mentioned this project.  Yea, that happens a lot; and is probably half the reason I spend so much dang time on the internet these days.  Here's why this project caught my attention:  I hate hate haaate photos of myself.  I want to change that.  The original blog post I read, by Chelsey of The Paper Mama was about enjoying self-portraits.  I'll be honest.  The idea of taking photos of myself on a regular basis makes me feel a little ill.  Enjoyment would not be part of the exercise, for me.  Is that normal?  I don't know.  I don't know if more people are happy with the way they look, or unhappy with the way they look.  I know that I have loads of issues with my physical self; I always have.  In fact, in school a dear, sweet girl asked our school counselor how to make a friend like herself.  She was talking about me. Ouch. 


Then, I found Elena's blog, Selfie Magic, and read her post about why people should take self-portraits.
 Can I just say that that all hit a little [read: a LOT] close to home.  I constantly (and silently) curse myself when looking through photos because there are so few of me.  I've even commented to Mr. R about how our kids are going to ask me what I looked like when they were small because they won't have a clue from our 'family' photos.


So.  As painful as this is going to be for me, I'm going to start taking some selfies.  There is no way I can commit [at this point] to a full 365 days of photos.  I was going to go with 30 days; but after reading Elena's blog, I see she has a Selfie Saturdays link-up that she does.  While that sounds interesting for later, I don't think I want to be stuck to a certain theme at first.  I need to just get comfortable with holding the camera the wrong way first (see? there I go again - 'the wrong way'; like it's bad to be taking photos of myself).  But, that doesn't mean that I can't still post selfies once a week. 


That's my plan right now.  I'm going to post a selfie once a week (1 photo every 7 days instead of 1 photo every 1 day for 365 days).  The reason I'm broadcasting this on my blog is to hold myself accountable.  This is going to be hard for me to do.  Very hard.  If you see a week go by with no selfie, you hound me until I post one.  I mean it.  I want to see my comments explode on day 8 of no photo.  And just to clarify, I'm keeping the rules simple right now.  All I will require of myself is that I be in the photo.  So while you might not see my face in all of them at first, it will be a photo of ME.


Talk about a challenge...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

pretty in pink: a recipe


I don't get to use that phrase much, 'pretty in pink', being the only girl in this household so far.  But this pretty lady could be called nothing but.  Scooch and I love having smoothies for breakfast.  Monkey doesn't get to enjoy them yet because of the milk and egg whites that I put in sometimes.  He gets the fruit by itself.

I had trouble drinking these smoothies when I first tried making them because they weren't cold enough.  But then I started adding frozen fruit and it's made all the difference!  I will add whatever fruits we have on hand, but we do have a favorite recipe that I make most often.  Here it is:


Pretty In Pink Smoothies
All quantities are for one person.  Multiply quantities by the number of people you are serving.
1 med-large banana
1/4 peeled apple (I like to use cripps pink, or pink lady apples)
3 large dollops of plain yogurt (greek yogurt works well too), I heap a soup spoon
1 raspberry Danactiv/Actimel (or equivalent in milk)
1/2C or large handful frozen raspberries

Optional ingredients:
Handful blueberries (try adding with a blueberry Danactiv instead of raspberry)
Powdered egg white (very expensive, but only use a teaspoon per person)
Large spoon of peanut butter (when I add this, I use milk instead of Danactiv, and use frozen apples instead of raspberries)

Blend in a blender to desired consistency.

A note on frozen fruit:  I've been so lucky to find frozen fruit here in the UK for a really reasonable price.  I remember this not to be the case in the US.  To help lower the cost of this, you could freeze your own fruit.  Either buy some berries or apples when you find them on sale, or pick your own fresh fruit.  Spread it out on a baking sheet (peel and rough chop the apples), and put in freezer.  When frozen, move fruit to a freezer-safe container.


I love the way the seeds and skins (I used blueberries in this one) stuck to the glass in that photo.



Sometimes we have smoothies for lunch as well; in a green dinosaur.  But then we still have to have some of Mama's from a glass so we can get a messy face.

Experiment with flavors that you like and see what works for you.  Have fun with it.  Toast up some bread, or scramble up some eggs to go along with, and Enjoy!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

sleep training. warning: lenghty post

Yes.  We're still talking about sleep training.  This time though, I'm talking from the other side.  Monkey is finally sleeping.  It took a really long time to get here, and I was never really sure that we WOULD get here.  In fact, it's only been about a week since he's started taking consistent naps.  I thought maybe if I shared what we went through, maybe it could help someone out there in blogland.  You're probably thinking, come on, so your son wouldn't sleep.  WTF are we still talking about it for?  I am still amazed at how much missing some sleep affected every aspect of my life.  My marriage suffered the most, but my health suffered, my kids suffered, my house is seriously neglected.  I didn't even feel human towards the end.  I was just sort of crawling through the days, just hoping to make it through until I could figure something out.  I got to the point where I couldn't even come up with anything new to try to get Monkey to sleep because my brain felt like it was swimming in molasses.  So here's what happened:


Monkey didn't sleep well from day 1.  He had his nights and days mixed up for the first two months or so.  Also, just like his brother, he didn't want to sleep anywhere but with me.  I had a cradle next to my bed, but he would never sleep in there for very long.  I tried anything I could think of to help Monkey sleep.  I tried t-shirts I had worn so he would smell me close to him.  I tried elevating his head, swaddling, not swaddling, laying him on his side, and on his back.  I would end up falling asleep holding him in bed because I was so exhausted.


Once we finally got Monkey's days and nights straightened out, he and I were sleeping in the living room.  I would sleep on the couch, Monkey would sleep in his swing.  Then he suddenly started waking every hour or so.  I was so frustrated, and couldn't find an answer.   I was so very tired all the time, and it started affecting everything.  I was cranky and short with my husband, and very quick to anger with Scooch.  [Let me just pause for a moment to say, Monkey wasn't just waking up.  He would be fast asleep, and just start screaming.  Not just screaming.  Ear-piercing, out of breath, turning purple screaming.  It was like he was in pain.  He couldn't settle easily either.  It would take quite a while to calm him down and get him back to sleep.]  It got to the point where I would bring Monkey onto the couch with me to sleep so we could both get some sleep.  He would still wake a lot laying with me, but was able to easily go back to sleep.  Sometimes I would have to roll over so he was laying on his other side.  Of course I couldn't rest during the day because I had Scooch to take care of as well.  At first, the only waking hours Monkey had during the day were during Scooch's nap.  Of course.  


On top of all that, Monkey went through normal baby colic as well.  He would be the best baby all day long, sleeping for hours and hours.  Then darkness would settle, inside the house as well as out.  Monkey would just scream.  I would walk back and forth in our lounge, just bouncing and swinging him.  My back would ache, my arms would ache, and Monkey would be hoarse from screaming.  I would change his clothes and his diaper to make sure nothing was picking or pinching or rubbing him.  I would undress him and lay him on my bare chest.  Of course then all he wanted to do was eat; but at least that would stop the screaming for a bit.



So now Monkey is about 5 months old.  Colic is over, thank goodness, but he still isn't sleeping all night, or in his own bed.  Even his naps during the day he sleeps on the couch.  If I venture too far, he wakes up.  During a two hour nap, he usually wakes three to four times.  And he only takes one nap a day.  We had friends come stay for the weekend, so I had to move off the couch.  I brought Monkey into bed with my husband and me.  He slept in my arms all night, only waking to eat.  After my friends left, I kept the air mattress up that they slept on in our extra bedroom, and moved in.  For the next few months, Monkey and I shared that bed.  When he slept, I slept.  He would take a 30 minute nap in the morning, with me holding him.  Then, when Scooch went for his nap, I would take Monkey to bed and he would normally sleep until Scooch woke.  I would sleep then as well.  This was when I started to come out of my fog a little.  I was finally catching up on some sleep.  I still wasn't sleeping great at night because Monkey would have me up two or three times, and sometimes would still have restless screaming fits for an hour or more, but it was better than I had been getting.  Plus I was getting to nap during the day as well.  But since I was following Monkey's schedule, I wasn't able to get a thing done in the house.


At this point, Monkey is around 8 months old.  I had tried CIO (cry-it-out) three or four times.  The problem was that 1) he was used to sleeping with me, and 2) he wasn't used to sleeping in his own bed, and 3) he didn't know how to fall asleep on his own.  That third one was the biggest thing.  The poor kid did NOT know how to fall asleep.  I had completely robbed him of learning this ability and I needed to fix it.  Monkey would scream during CIO for 4 hours or more, and then start to doze off sitting up in his bed.  It was painful to listen to.  It tore my heart out.  I was determined not to let him cry again.  This was my plan:


I was going to spend a week more sharing a bed with Monkey, but would let him fall asleep on his own.  I wasn't going to nurse, or rock, or anything.  At first it took him over two hours or rolling around, trying to suck on anything he could get in his mouth, but he did it.  I felt like that was a huge victory in itself.  We kept at it, but one week turned into a month due to illness that had all four of us down for a while (everything I read said not to do sleep training during illness).


Finally the time came for Monkey to move to his bed.  I nursed him before bed, put him in his bed, and then sat in a chair in his room.  I figured having me there, just like when we shared a bed, would help him fall asleep.  Good idea in theory, but not in practice.  He would pretty much stand and the end of his bed, as close as he could get to me, and cry.  I would lay him down, rub his back, and try to go sit down again.  In the end, I ended up helping him to sleep most nights by rubbing his back or jiggling his bottom to simulate bouncing him.  This killed my back worse than walking around with Monkey during his colic days since I was all bent over his cot for over an hour a night.  BUT, he was in his own bed.  All night, every night.  Another huge step.  He would still wake up three to six times a night.  On bad nights, he would still wake every hour like he used to.  I realized he still hadn't learned how to fall asleep and still needed my help.  I tried CIO again.  Same result as before: he would. not. go. to. sleep.  I would pick him up just once, and he would lay his head down and pass out.  Oy.


Things sort of naturally progressed from here, and for the next month or two, I ended up rocking Monkey to sleep every time.  We had switched to bottles by now (that last illness wiped out my milk for good, dammit).  So Monkey would have a bottle, then I would stand and bounce him back and forth until he fell asleep.  Sometimes it took just a couple minutes, sometimes it took over an hour.  He would still wake up just as much at night.  It was a comfortable routine, but I wanted to sleep all night.


Then one night, it happened.  I had been rocking/bouncing him for over an hour.  My arms and back ached again.  I was frustrated and wanted to scream.  I was talking to Monkey in a way that I never thought I was capable of talking to my kids (have you seen this book?  yea, that's pretty much what I was saying to my baby).  So I laid Monkey in his bed, told him I loved him, and walked out.  I went downstairs and Mr. R and I started commiserating and discussing what was going on.  After a couple minutes, I went to turn on the monitor, and heard nothing.  No screaming.  No crying.  Only the hiss of the sound machine in Monkey's room.  Mr. R and I looked at each other.  We shared a look of mixed feelings: shock (could he REALLY be asleep?!), confusion (are you sure it's on??), elation (we're finally getting somewhere!), relief (goodnight, I'm going to bed too!).  Monkey was actually asleep, and slept all. night. long.  Of course I didn't.  Oh no.  I still woke at the times when Monkey normally woke.  But.  I woke to find Monkey NOT waking, and that was enough.


Of course it wasn't as easy as all that.  It took about two weeks of Monkey screaming when I put him down before he would go to sleep.  I hated every second of that screaming, but I knew I had done this to him, and this was the only way to fix it, as much as I hated to admit that.  I had hoped I could find a gentler way of getting him to sleep, but nothing worked.  Nothing (believe me when I say this, there is sooo much more of the story that I haven't told you here.  you might just be reading all day if I did).


Now, here we are at almost 11 months.  This is our nighttime routine now:
Pajamas
Fix bottle (yup, he 'helps' me)
Say goodnight to Dada and Scooch (Scooch helps shake the bottle)
Bottle in Monkey's room
Snuggle on Mama for a few minutes, but NEVER until he's asleep
Loads of squeezes and kisses
Into bed with a chewy (cloth diaper that he chews on)
Mama leaves and says goodnight one last time


Monkey now sleeps from about 7pm to 7am, and naps between 3.5 and 4.5 hours each day.  Seriously.  It's like he's a different baby.  He's happier.  He's growing faster.  He's eating more.  He's learning sooo quickly.  The house is clean (although untidy most of the time).  I've started cooking again, slowly.  I'm not angry all the time (oh, and I finally started sleeping through the night again myself!).

So, if I can give just one piece of advice.  This whole mess was caused by one simple thing.  I never let my baby fall asleep on his own, so he didn't know how, and needed me to help him get to sleep every single time he ever woke up.  My advice is this: do not rock/nurse/snuggle your baby to sleep.  I know you want to.  I know it's nice and feels good and it's so special to share that time with your little one.  Even in the thick of it, I still enjoyed snuggling up with that warm little body to go to sleep.  But don't do it.  Let your baby fall to sleep on their own.  You will both benefit from it. 


I read several books through all of this.  I liked this one best.  It talks about how sleep works, and what to do from the beginning, not just how to get your older baby/child to sleep.  It also deals with adult sleep troubles and problems that can come up with your children later on down the line.

If just one person reads this and benefits from it, then it was worth writing.  Now, go get some sleep!

Friday, August 19, 2011

{this moment}

A new Friday ritual (for me). A single photo - no words (almost) - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Inspired by SouleMama


 Happy Birthday to my sweet, beautiful, comical, intelligent, clever, three-year-old boy!

If you're inspired to do the same, hop over to SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

hand-knit scarf, literally: tutorial

My first tutorial!  I made this scarf this weekend and thought you might like to see how I did it!


Even though it's a knitted scarf, you won't need any knitting needles, just your fingers.  It's super easy.  I completed the knitting in about an hour, while watching tv.  Once I got into the groove of it, I didn't even need to look at my hands anymore.  

What you need:
  • one or two t-shirts
  • scissors (alternately, you could use a rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler)
Start out with an old t-shirt or two, depending how long you want your scarf.  I used two tops, and ended up with a scarf that, when laid around my neck, almost touched the floor.  I had two maternity tops that had seen better days.  I laid them out flat and just started to cut strips, discarding the hem. 



I wasn't terribly careful about keeping the strips a consistent width, I figured it would add character to the scarf.  If you wanted to have even, consistent strips, you could cut with a rotary cutter on a mat with a ruler.


When you've cut up both shirts, you're left with a bunch of looped strips.  You'll need to cut one seam off each piece in order to get flat strips. 


Now you'll need to piece them all together into one long piece of 'yarn'.  I didn't document this part in photos, because there is a great tutorial here on how to do that.  While you're there, check out her tutorial for knit bracelets, too clever!  When I pieced my yarn, I alternated colors.  I wish now I had been a little more random so my stripes were more uneven. 

Once all your pieces are strung together, wind it all up into a ball to make it easier to work with.  While you're winding the ball, tug on each section of fabric a little to make the fabric roll and stretch out a bit.   This will allow for greater stitch definition.


When I started my scarf, I tried it on 4 fingers, but didn't like the way it was looking.  It was a bit too thin for me, so I went to 6 fingers.  Weave the yarn in and out of your fingers, starting at your left pointer finger.  Once you get to your right-hand ring finger, come back the other way to get all your fingers covered.  You'll end up with the yarn coming from the ball laying behind your left pointer.

To work your first row, bring that yarn to the front, around your left pointer and lay it across your fingers, above the cast-on row.  Take each stitch from your cast-on row, and pull it up and over your finger, and over the yarn laying in front of your fingers, starting with your left pointer.  Continue with each finger.  Now bring the yarn back across your hand again, and work back the other way.  Here's what the cast-on and first completed row looked like on 6 fingers (if this is unclear, please refer back to this bracelet tutorial):


Now, I could have just borrowed someone else's hands to make this a little easier on myself, but since I was the only one home when I wanted to work on it, I had to use my own.  Photographing this by myself must have looked pretty funny.  Luckily I have a remote on my camera to make it a bit easier.  Here's how I did it with my own hands:  I could still move my pointer and thumb, so I used those to work the stitches on the opposite hand.


Now, sit back and get into a groove, and knit away.


Looking good!  The fabric that comes off your fingers is wider and shorter than what the finished piece will be, so keep this in mind when determining how long to make it.  I just kept going until I ran out of yarn, since I knew I would be at least doubling the scarf around my neck.

When you're set to finish, you'll want to bind-off.  You'll work from right to left, so you'll start with the stitch on your right ring finger, if you kept with 6 stitches.  Slide your ring finger out of the stitch, then slide that stitch onto your right pinky.  You now have two stitches on your pinky.  Grab the bottom stitch on your pinky and pull it up through the stitch you just put on your pinky.  Now we repeat this again to bind off the next stitch: Slide the stitch off your right pinky and put it onto your left pinky finger.  Pull the bottom stitch up through the top stitch and off your finger.  Continue like this until you have just one stitch left on your left pointer finger.


Slide that last stitch off and weave it into your stitching to keep it from unraveling.  Trim off any extra ends.  Here's what the front looks like when you're finished (the part that was against the back of your hands).


And here's the back (the side that was facing out while working):


Now tug on the scarf, like you did when winding your yarn into a ball, and you'll see the stitches readjust themselves.  The fabric will lengthen and the spaces between the stitches will disappear.  The fabric will roll so your scarf will look like a long tube. 



Tie it around your neck and go show it off!

If anything is unclear, please let me know and I'll do my best to help. Hopefully my tutorials will get better as I do more of them. *smile*


Friday, August 12, 2011

{this moment}

A new Friday ritual (for me). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Inspired by SouleMama

 
If you're inspired to do the same, hop over to SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

30 days of lists

I'm addicted to lists.  Really.  I make lists of groceries, what needs to get done, long-term goals, things to make, even a list of pantry staples.  I read about this 30 Days of Lists thing on a blog that mentioned it just in passing in a comment.  The more I read, I realized it's exactly what I thought it was: 30 days of lists that are shared amongst the participants.  Each day we get a new prompt for our list.  If you don't like that one, come up with your own.  How could I resist?

So, all you list junkies, you've got two more days to pre-register for some cool stuff.  The list-making commences on 1 September.

Updated to add: I'll be sharing my lists here, and linking up to the 30 Days blog.  So come back and see what goes through this crazy head of mine.  *grimace*

Join 30 Days of Lists

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

flutterflies

That's what Scooch calls butterflies.  A year or so ago, we gave a gift to our niece of one of those butterfly kits.  It comes with everything you need but the caterpillars, which you have to order when you are ready to start.  While our niece used her habitat for housing a host of other critters and collections, but not butterflies, I have since thought about getting our own caterpillars to grow and release.  I wanted to wait until Scooch was old enough to have a bit of an idea of what was going on.  Lately, there's been an ad running on tv here for the kits, and every time Scooch would say something about it, so I decided it was time.

Our box arrived on a Saturday morning, and it was lucky we were still home (we're usually out enjoying getting out of the house).  I tore into the box like a kid on Christmas morning.  It came with two containers of 5 caterpillars each.  The bottom was covered in their 'nutrient', and that is what they would eat until they pupated.  Also in the kit were instructions, a butterfly life cycle poster, a glossy card with stickers (Scooch's favorite part), and the hatching habitat. 


Unfortunately, we had to keep the caterpillars in as constant a temperature as we could find in the house.  I had hoped to be able to keep them on the sill in the kitchen where we could watch them better, but that was a definite no-no.  So I kept them in my studio, where not much action took place recently (unfortunately), and the temp can stay pretty constant.


Scooch and I checked on them each morning, watching them grow and crawl around.  They spun webs that they crawled on and slept in.  The only bad thing about living in a little container, is that all their poo had to just hang out with them.  Sorry, TMI probably.


About two weeks after their arrival, one [much bigger] caterpillar crawled up to the top, hung around up there for a bit making preparations, and then stuck his (her?) little feet to the top and hung upside down.  About 24 hours later, he (she?) started shaking and twisting around.  The caterpillar skin split around the head area, and as the chrysalis underneath wiggled away, the skin slipped up to the top.  When it was finished, the skin had shrunk all up.  It looked like a tiny little version of a caterpillar, hanging from the top near the feet.  You can almost see it in the photo below.  The chrysalis in the center of the photo has a dark thing hanging up at the top in front of it.  That's the discarded skin.



One by one, the other 9 all pupated and we ended up with 10 newly formed chrysalids.  I was so happy to see them all make it to this stage.  Unfortunately, one of them fell and had to lie in all the poo until they had all finished pupating.  I moved them into the hatching habitat, which was a little unnerving.  They all started wiggling and shaking to ward off prey.  I thought they were all going to fall off before I could get them attached to the habitat.

Then, about a week and a half later, two butterflies!!  It's a little yucky after they hatch.  There's this bloody looking stuff that drips all over as they stretch out and enjoy being able to spread their wings for the first time.  Here is one that just hatched.  They pump blood into their wings under pressure to get them to flatten out and harden.  It happens pretty quickly too, within a few minutes.  Sorry these photos are hazy.  It's hard to take clear photos through the habitat since it's a white mesh.  I tried taken photos through the clear plastic top, but since it was always a bit wrinkled, all the photos looked like they were warped.


We kept the butterflies for two days before letting them go.  I fed them oranges and sugar water sprinkled on flowers.  Once we let them go, they all hung around on the ground for a while.  Then, one by one, they started to fly away.  Three stayed in the grass after we went inside for dinner, but we got to watch 4 fly up into the wind and out of our garden (we had already said goodbye to 3 early birds previously).  Hopefully they were able to stay close by since many of our neighbors have lovely flower gardens.  However, with all the wind and rain we've had lately, I shudder to think what's become of them.  Normally, they should live 3-5 weeks after hatching.  Check out the one down there that tried to hitchhike on my leg.


All in all, this was a fun little project.  If I were ever to do this again, I would have to have a big tank for the caterpillars, and a much bigger area for the butterflies.  I felt bad that they were so confined during their short little lives, and would want to make things more natural for them next time; including real food instead of manufactured 'nutrient'.  But that could potentially turn into a really big, really expensive project.  So unless I decide to become a butterfly whisperer or something, I'll probably just leave it all to nature and the great butterfly conservatories that have the proper facilities.

Oh, in case you're interested, they are Painted Lady Butterflies, and we got them here.