Willow

Three weeks ago, Lil came home from science camp with a teeny surprise for the family.  What appeared to be a little speck sitting on milkweed leaves transformed into a tiny little caterpillar with a giant appetite. Lil named her, Willow.  For the next two weeks, Willow ate and ate and ate milkweed leaves.

Meet Tiny Willow!

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

Growing Willow

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

Look who’s hungry and number 2 ;)

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

Strong Climber

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

C is for Caterpillar

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

On the fourteenth day, Willow’s appetite changed.  She ate less and started to work her way up the cheesecloth that was covering her temporary home (1 gallon aquarium). Here’s Willow finding a cozy spot on the cheesecloth for her chrysalis.

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

Willow hanging out and getting ready to shed her skin. Overnight, she wrapped herself into this beautiful light green chrysalis.  The next six days, we watched the subtle changes occur like gold specks on the outside of her chrysalis. On the 23rd day, we saw the outline of her wings forming from within.

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

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Notice the running stitch at the top of Chrysalis. Photo by: CMBanerjee

While we were sleeping, Willow emerged from her chrysalis.  Lil was the first to see Willow as a butterfly. She initially clung to the shell of her chrysalis and slowly started walking and stretching out her wings.

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

Here’s Willow letting go of her chrysalis’ shell. The girls couldn’t believe how she fit in such a small place (about an inch long).  When her wings were completely extended she was 3x the size of the chrysalis.

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Photo by: CMBanerjee

The girls had mixed emotions about letting Willow go. Emmy was especially sad because she was so accustomed to watching Willow as a caterpillar everyday.  She didn’t quite understand why we couldn’t keep Willow like our pet dog and fishes.  With the help of the “Angelina and the Butterfly” book, Emmy was able to understand that Willow would be happier living in the outdoors.

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Before lunch, the family and I decided it was time to release Willow.  My husband armed with our Canon camera was ready to document this very special moment.  The girls and I took our places around a pot of yellow mums.  We carefully took Willow out of the aquarium.  She was still clinging on the cheesecloth.  What unfolded next was magical in our eyes.  She tentatively set foot on the yellow mums.  My husband was clicking away.  I could hear Emmy say, “Can I touch her?!” and then complete silence occurred as Willow began to gracefully beat her wings.  In a split second, her feet lightly touched all three of our hands. A gentle gesture of her saying thank you and goodbye.  Before we could even say bye, she quickly fluttered her wings and flew up to the skies.

Emmy burst into tears and said, “She’s gone!”  Lil and my husband quickly spotted Willow resting on some leaves on a nearby tree.  We watched Willow as my husband snapped more photos.  When he checked to review photos, the camera screen was flashing “no memory card”.   No memory card???!!!!!  Thank goodness, I had my IPhone and was able to take a couple pictures prior to her taking flight.

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Getting ready for take off. Photo by: CMBanerjee

Willow's beautiful wings. Photo by: CMBanerjee

Willow’s beautiful wings. Photo by: CMBanerjee

My husband quickly loaded the memory card in our camera and we were able to take some photos of Willow on the tree branch.

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My favorite hummingbird was also sitting on a tree branch nearby watching all the commotion below.

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The whole experience of raising a caterpillar into a butterfly and setting it free has been a fun and rewarding experience for the family and I.  For a little over three weeks, we took on the role of caretaker to this beautiful creature and were her captive audience.  She amused and entertained us with her insatiable appetite, intrigued us with her elusiveness, mesmerized us with her amazing reveal as a butterfly, and taught us the beauty of enjoying every moment as it comes.

Now we’re busy tending to our milkweed plant. We’re hoping it will attract Willow back and visit us possibly soon with a few of her butterfly friends. Here’s to living and enjoying our moments! Soar high Willow!

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Around the Globe (Session 3)

Today the girls learned about Switzerland and Bailey (our royal mutt) even took some interest in the pictures of the Alpine trees.

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The girls were surprised to hear that Switzerland has four official languages and noticed that there were no bodies of water surrounding it.  They referenced back to the other two countries they learned about and checked to see if Thailand and Brazil had a seacoast or if it was landlocked like Switzerland. It was great to see them take the initiative to find geographic similarities and differences with these countries.

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Emmy aced her “Spot It” flag game.  She was amused to see pictures of the Alpine Ibex, school life, transportation, food and photos of the famous mountain, Matterhorn.  The older girls also had fun doing currency conversions.

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At the end of the class, the girls enjoyed melting cheese and trying their first cheese fondue experience together.  So much so that in between bites Emmy emphatically exclaimed, “Mommy, I love learning about the world!” Lil and her friend nodded in agreement.  Next stop, Zimbabwe. :)

Maui Daydream

Yesterday, the girls and I had a fun time reminiscing on our spring break trip to Maui last year.  After, browsing through the videos and pictures, we all agreed that we definitely want to go back.

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This trip was special because my mom was able to join us for the first time on a family trip. Lil and my mom were roommates. Here’s a couple candid pictures, I took of my two favorites ladies capturing the Hawaiian sunrise.

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My husband found a great deal on Costco travel for both times we traveled to Kauai (1st visit) and Maui (last visit).  In Maui, we got to stay in beautiful Kapalua Villas.  Unlike, a regular hotel room, the girls had space outside to run around while we sat back, relaxed and watched the ocean view.

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My sister-in-law chasing after Emmy whose made it past our villa.

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For shopping, we went to Lahaina where the girls saw various sized ukelele’s, local wood carvings, and souvenir shirts. Emmy was surprised to see so many ABC stores (they’re souvenir shops).

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The family and I enjoyed the Hawaiian mixed plates. Here’s a kalua pork rice plate with rice and traditional macaroni salad.

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Walkway to beach

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Banyan tree

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Face on banyan tree root.

We found this manipulated photograph of a banyan tree at one of Lahaina’s art galleries.

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We treated mom and the family to a luau. The girls enjoyed watching the Hawaiian dancers and loved their lei necklaces. Emmy joined a pre-dinner hula lesson too.

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Mai tai’s anyone?

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The girls also had fun playing mini golf and riding bumper boats.

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Check out my previous post on our dining experience at Maui’s Star Noodle. Maui and Kaui have definitely left a wonderful imprint in our hearts and unforgettable memories to cherish.  Aloha Hawaii…until we meet again. :)

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Around the Globe (Session 2)

Last week, the girls enjoyed our first “Around the Globe” learning session about Brazil. This week we virtually made our way to Asia and they learned about Thailand. The girls were excited but our royal mutt, Bailey was in a lethargic mood.

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The girls were surprised to learn that there were still living Kings and Queens in other parts of the world. They also enjoyed seeing pictures of exotic birds like the blue flycatcher bird pictured below.

Picture of one Thailand's King

Picture of one Thailand’s King

 

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Using flashcards, Emmy loved starting off the class with the “Spot It” flag game.

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Instead of a pop quiz, the girls got to put their writing skills to practice in our “Pen Pal” activity. They pretended to write a friendly letter to another child in Thailand. The goal of the writing exercise was to share something about themselves and also ask questions.  The girls also learned how to say hello in Thai.

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Emmy worked on a matching type and coloring sheet. I also helped her write out her pen pal letter.

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We made a favorite Thai dessert, mango sticky rice.  I found a friendly recipe from Cooking with a Wallflower.

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Overall, the girls had another fun learning session. I couldn’t find a traditional Thai Buddha as a souvenir for them but they loved the happy Buddhas I got them from World Market. :) Next stop, Switzerland.  Happy Weekend!

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Summer Reading

Summer break with the family is a great time to travel and also one of the best times to spend quality time and read books to our little ones.

Great news, summer’s not over yet and my fun picture book about the five senses, “Izzy Makes Sense” would make a wonderful addition to your summer reading list.  Izzy’s  eBook  is still on sale on amazon.com for $0.99! Two days left before it goes back to its regular $2.99 price. Check out Izzy’s preview pages below and get your eBook copy today! :)

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Also, don’t forget to check out Sammy’s Books and their wonderful new book titles. The eBook version of their ABC (First Book Series) is also only $0.99 on amazon.com.

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For other fun children’s book recommendations, check out one of my favorite resources, Amelie’s Bookshelf. Happy summer reading!

Brazil (Around the Globe, Session 1)

Last Thursday, the girls had their first, “Around the Globe” session.  The country they randomly picked out from the world map was Brazil.  We started the class by stamping their passports.  Next, the older girls quickly took on the task of locating Brazil on the map, finding the continent (South America), its capital Brasilia and popular destinations like Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Guess who else joined us?

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I showed Emmy a picture of Brazil’s flag and she was happy to play a game of “Spot It” on flash cards.

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Using the Fun Fact sheet, the older girls (Lil and her bff) took down notes during the lecture.

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They had fun looking at the pictures of animals from the rainforest and seeing slices of life in Brazil.  It was great to see the girls ask questions. It showed me that they were interested and eager to learn.  Towards the end of the class, I gave the girls a pop quiz. For Emmy, I printed out a coloring page and with the help of clip art made a matching type sheet for her.

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At the end of the class, the girls got to try some banana flavored Brazilian cookies and received a sweet souvenir.  The girls had a fun time! Next stop, Thailand. :)

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Books on the Go (eBook Sale!)

Looking for a new book title for the kiddies to add to your Kindle while you’re on the road this July 4th weekend?  My children’s book, Izzy Makes Sense is now only $0.99! You’re only one click away! Get your ebook copy today! 

Have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend!

(promo ends July 11, regular ebook price $2.99. Paperback format available too.)

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“Izzy Makes Sense” sample page