Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Ten days ago, I wrote about Stripey, the Monarch caterpillar who came to live in my kitchen.

This is what he looked like then, just before he shed his skin and turned into a chrysalis:

But, a lot can happen in ten days.

In ten days, we've had lots of rain, and seen lots of rainbows like these:

We've had a visit from the Tooth Fairy...

...and welcomed a new foal into the world...

...and watched baby barn swallows do what baby barn swallows do. 

That is, eat.

They live above the foaling stall, and announced... "The new Prince is here!"

My baby bird likes to announce things and eat, too... 

though here she is pleading for a brownie, rather than a bug.

But, back to bugs.  Er, I mean, butterflies.

Ours made his appearance this morning, amidst a house-shaking, nerve-wracking thunderstorm.  

We let the heavy weather subside, but then my little bird decided it was time for 

Stripey to fly free (noting that he has to get ready to fly to Mexico soon)...

He let us admire him for a few moments...

 ...then flew up...up...up to the tops of the trees.

Just because he could.

Have a good time in Mexico, Stripey... don't forget the folks back home!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dancing Under Rainbows

When you are five years old (almost six!), a perfect summer Saturday includes:

A story with Daddy (in the middle of the day!)...

...a mission... or five...

...a small discovery...

...a BIG discovery...

...and dancing under rainbows!

When you are five (almost six!) you get to be silly...

...and introspective...

...and totally self-confident in your sister's hand-me-downs, 
smeared with Fudgesicles.

You can dance, and laugh, with total abandon...

...stop to smell the flowers...

...appreciate natural wonders...

...and go to bed knowing that the world is a 
wonderful, magical place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Into Butterflies

It took me a long time to become a mother. As a result,  before my girls were born I had a lot of time to fantasize about all the wisdom I would pass along to the next generation.

Never would I have guessed that it was a two-way street... that being a mother is most rewarding when you are learning as much from, or as a result of, your children as they are from you.

We currently have a Monarch caterpillar living in our kitchen... my husband found him out in the pasture, and brought him in to show the girls.  The younger promptly named him Stripey, and claimed him as her own.  

We watched in amusement while he chowed down on milkweed, marveled at how much caterpillars poop, wondered together why they have antennae at BOTH ends... and today, noticed that Stripey was hanging upside down, with just his behind attached to the leaf.  I figured it best to do some research into Monarch metamorphosis, just to stay one step ahead and know what to expect.  We've been through this once before, when my older daughter was about this age, but apparently I've forgotten what I learned from the experience (other than make sure the chrysalis is under cover, just in case the butterfly emerges when the only one home to enjoy the show is the cat...).

So anyway, today I learned that rather than spinning a cocoon (as I had somehow assumed), the Monarch sheds it skin and the chrysalis is then revealed.  It is soft, at first, but then hardens to a protective shell, sheltering the creature inside at it completes it transformation, which takes about a week.

A week?  To turn munching jaws into a nectar-sipping straw?  To turn a fat-bodied, grub-like eating (and pooping) machine into one of the worlds most beautiful, delicate, graceful creatures?  Wow.  There may be hope for me yet... but I digress...

Before I had children, the fantasy was all about rocking tiny happy babies who slept all night, then passing all my worldly (ha!) wisdom along as they grew.  That fantasy ranked right up there with that of natural childbirth... idealistic?  Yes.  Realistic? No.

The truth is that every minute of motherhood has been a learning experience of the beautiful kind.  

I've learned how bees make honey, how horses were domesticated, how Monarch caterpillars turn into butterflies.  Yes, those things were all taught in my school at some point... but there is a difference between being taught something, and truly learning it through necessity... like having to explain it to your kids.  

Then, too, I've acquired knowledge of things you can only really learn once you are a mother.  Like how to survive on zero sleep while the baby goes through a colicky stage.  How to be assertive with professionals who don't know your child as well as you do.  When to give comfort and Tylenol, and when to head to the emergency room.  And just how beautiful and wondrous this world really is, when you see it through the eyes of your child.

I hope that as they grow from little girls to young ladies to women, transforming from babies into butterflies, my daughters never lose their curiosity or sense of wonder... and that they never stop teaching me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Little Red-Haired Girl

Tonight, while out doing my chores (and truth be told, petting horses and daydreaming... ), I was doing some reminiscing and thought of a story to share... just a tiny tidbit of Pintabian horse history.

Back in the mid-1990's, my sister Rosalie (that's her in the photo, holding the foal) and I traveled with some friends to a horse fair in the big city to help promote Pintabian horses. It was a first... and it was a BLAST.

We were so busy, with tending horses and tending booths and taking in the sights and yakking until we lost our voices, that I remember very little about the trip... it was overwhelming to the senses.

There is one memory of the trip I recall vividly, however... and that is our encounter with the little red-haired girl.

One of the big events of this horse fair was a "Parade of Breeds"; and since we were there promoting a brand-new breed, this showcase was a Very. Big. Deal. We had a beautiful mare and foal to show off, and when the mare was led into the coliseum, we turned her foal loose. The foal knew, somehow, that she was in the spotlight, and acted accordingly. She went racing around that arena as if doing a victory lap, and the crowd went wild.

Needless to say, on the way back to the barns, we were absolutely jubilant. People kept stopping us, asking if they could pet the horses, raving about how beautiful they were... and we were happy to oblige. One of those people, however, did not ask... at least, not out loud.

A little red-haired girl just stood there, quietly, her eyes begging us to stop and let her touch the foal.

She was maybe five or six years old... and pretty unkempt. There was not a parent or guardian of any sort, anywhere around; this little girl seemed all alone in the world. We attempted to speak with her, but she would have none of it... all she wanted was to touch that baby horse. We stopped there, right in the midst of the main drag, horses and people milling around, and watched as joy brightened that little girl's face just as surely as dawn brightens the eastern sky. The foal nuzzled the girl, ever so gently, and the girl practically nuzzled her right back. I think we all had tears in our eyes, watching the scene unfold.

All these years later, I can't remember just how we parted ways... if a frazzled young mother caught up to the girl, if she wandered off, or maybe we were entertaining an angel unaware. In any case, I often think of that little girl and wonder if she ever thinks of that day, or if it had any impact on her life.

It certainly had an impact on mine.
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Friday, July 2, 2010


Father, forgive me... I used Your name in vain today. 

I'm really sorry for that.

Not that there is any good excuse, but I do have one... in case You would like to hear it.

It was hot, and I was picking up a load of square hay bales (aka "idiot cubes") from the field and loading them into the truck.  I was topping off the load.... and since You created me to be short, I had to lift the bales to my chest, then heave them up over my head.  As it was hot, I was tired, sweaty and in a hurry, and so ignored my self-imposed protocol of always turning a bale over before picking it up. 

On what would prove to be the last bale of that particular load, I threw it up over my head... then looked square into the eyes of one of these as it dangled before my face:

And then I used Your name in vain.  Really loudly.  

I'm sure You (and all my neighbors) probably heard it, so I just wanted to say sorry.

I promise to follow the rules and turn the bales over before picking them up, from now on.  

Over and out.