Female Eacles Imperialis

On going inside to examine the moth, I found a large female Eacles
Imperialis, with not a scale of down misplaced. Even by gas light
I could see that the yellow of the living moth was a warm canary
colour, and the lavender of the mounted specimen closer heliotrope
on the living, for there were pinkish tints that had faded from the
pinned moth.

She was heavy with eggs, and made no attempt to fly, so I closed
the box and left her until the lights were out, and then removed the
lid. Every opening was tightly screened, and as she had mated, I did
not think she would fly.
– excerpt from Moths of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

All the way from the road, as my sister-in-law Liz and I pulled up to my house after a girls’-night-out, we could see this yellow winged creature clinging to my front screened door. This moth, a female, is so enormous, it looks like a bat who narrowly escaped after nearly drowning in a pail of yellow paint.

When I was a little girl, my parents took our family on a homeschool field trip to the homestead of naturalist and pioneer female photographer Gene Stratton-Porter. We walked through the lush green Limberlost trails and climbed the very steep stairs of her Indiana cabin.

The memory of my childhood trip was vividly recalled during the search to identify my incredible catch, when I stumbled upon an e-copy of Moths of the Limberlost, of which Porter devoted an entire chapter to this particular species.

Isn’t it amazing how her description still perfectly details the “Yellow Emperor”, as she fondly called it, almost 100 years later?

Two-Wheeler: Remember Your First Ride?

This morning, with proud strides, Micah walked into the kitchen and announced that he had taught himself to ride his bicycle.

“Wanna see?” he asked, his cheek-dimple showing from his wide grin.

He didn’t have to ask me twice.

Update: The night after this was filmed, Micah set his bike next to the garage, instead of putting the bike inside of the garage. It was stolen. He’s heartbroken. With a new understanding of the importance of caring for bikes, and his promise to do so, we’re looking for a “new” bike for him. If you live nearby and see a decent one for for $20 or less, will you let me know?

Evel Knievel Had a Mother, Too

Evel Knieval had a mother, too. There are days I wonder how she coped when her son was doing daring things that surely had her scrambling to help him or clean up after him at some point in his youth.

Today, my Evel Knieval decided to put a large wad of paper on top of a lit candle and walk away from it. The candle was on the sill of a window, and the flames were as high as the bottom of the open wooden window. Another child saw it and screamed for help.

Last week, Evel decided to walk home after being dropped off at a babysitter’s and break into our locked house to get his new rocks from the Natural History Museum to show to his friends. Tom called my cell phone to say he’d received a call at work saying that the motion sensors in our house had been set off and that the police were on their way. I was almost to my destination, but turned around. I came home to find my child sitting on our front porch, crying, and a police officer walking up our steps and asking him if he was okay.

My child is brilliant when it comes to taking things apart, even if the deconstruction only occurs in his mind. When we were on the Shinkansen on the way to Hokkaido, he located the emergency door-control panels, fire extinguisher, English guide to the route, and bathrooms — all within the first ten minutes of boarding.

He also quickly wanders off on his little quests of discovery. My first good scare occurred when he first start crawling. We were at a wedding and he swiftly crawled away from the kids’ play area. My son had found a hidden door and crawled up the stairs leading to the balcony where the sound and lighting systems were housed. The reception dances screeched to a halt as a woman started yelling that there was a baby about to fall through the bars of the balcony. A whole story above us, my son was teetering between bars wider than his chubby little body, laughing. It took several moments for us to find the door to even get to him to rescue him. Another time, when he was all of four, he got lost in Tokyo and walked over a mile to find us on the other side of a very large park. I’m thankful that he seems to have an innate compass, and that while he wanders away, lost in thought, he at least can find his way home… although we did have a pretty close call with him when he disappeared and ran off to see where the train tracks went. His guardian angels certainly have to work for their paychecks!

But, he also has a very tender heart… if you can get to it. When he finally humbles himself and fesses up, he becomes a big puddle of tears and blames himself harshly.

Today I had to explain to him that he has a pattern of doing things without thinking them through. The answer cannot simply be, “I don’t know why I did that!” In the case of the candle fire, and in breaking into our house, and a few other named problems he’d caused (for instance, a hole in the plaster wall hours before our house was to be shown by a Realtor) that these things warrant being confronted. I’m not trying to personally attack him — it would be wrong for me to turn a blind eye to them. It’s for his own growth that I must talk to him about these things!

In response to his sobbing and his saying things like, “You think I’m stupid! You don’t love me! You hate everything that I do!”, I told him that I appreciated his mind, and that I am proud of him for wanting to understanding how things work. His skills are such a help to me for mechanically related projects — like taking apart our vacuum to thoroughly clean it out. I pointed out that, out of all of my children, he is the one for whom I have bought nice tools (not just plastic hammers, but the real thing — and nails to go with it!) and building toys designed for children way older than his age group. My goal is to encourage him in his endeavors… but with some boundaries.

I told him, “It’s not enough to simply ask, “I wonder what would happen if….?” He must also stop and ask these two things:

1. Could my actions endanger myself or someone else? (Yes = Need to ask permission!)
2. Do I have permission from the owner to tinker with this object? (No = Need to ask permission!)

And… if he is not sure of those two answers to please ask his parents.

For those who are tinkerers or have children who are — any advice or encouragement for me? :D

The “I’m Still Here” Round-up

So… what are you doing this summer?

June 6 was the last day of homeschool for us. We loved our evaluator at Upattinas School! Home Education Director Kim Coffin thoroughly went through our portfolios and took an interest in each child. She asked about their hobbies, favorite reads, and their observations on Japanese culture amongst other things. The Upattinas campus is beautifully landscaped with gorgeous flowers as well as wild honeysuckle and berries. It has an atmosphere of peacefulness. Kim invited the children to sample the edibles and assured me that no pesticides were used on their property. If you looking for a homeschool evaluator who combines academic excellence with common sense, and who has a genuine heart for children and families, please do give Upattinas a call!

This coming school year, we’re switching to K12, with Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School as our local anchor school. My hope is that the prepackaged, goal-oriented program, and activities organized by someone else besides me , will streamline our schooling and make for more cheerful school days. We will still continue our family devotions (we are currently going through the Shorter Catechism and its proof-texts as a guide) as a Biblical education is important to us. Although the curriculum itself is secular, our children will still be at home and we will certainly have the opportunity to discuss materials together as a family as they are being taught.

The big news for this summer is that Tom will not be going to Afghanistan. Although he had his weapons training, a bazillion immunizations, and dog tags made, a botched filling from Japan kept him from being deployed. It’s absolutely bizarre and strange to have to regroup after having gone through such extreme mental and physical preparation, but the door was clearly slammed shut. The kids and I had planned to go to Indiana for three months while Tom was away, so we are regrouping as well. However, I can’t be happier. Tom was laughing today in the living room, and his laugh, as always, is the kind that makes everyone come running in to see what is so funny. I’m thankful he’s home.

Our house is still for sale, after nearly ten months. While it passed inspection and is approved for rental by the City of Coatesville, renting it out would not provide the down payment needed for the purchase of a new home. God is gracious, though. Last week, Tom’s boss gave the “okay” to work remotely from Pennsylvania. He will not have to be in D.C. as frequently. Hopefully, without having to pay out-of-pocket for gasoline and hotel expenses, we’ll be able to replenish some of our savings as well as pay off the necessary repair of our front porch.

Recently, we started cracking down on kids’ chores in our home. Lack of self-discipline is one of my biggest sin areas, and post-chore inspection as well as keeping the kids on schedule for chores is pretty grueling for me… so much, that I have a goal-defeating habit of doing all the chores myself, when I should be holding kids accountable for their work. After about two weeks, though, it’s paying off. The work ethic in our home is improving, and I’ve also noticed that the kids are taking care to make less mess, as they know that it will increase the amount of time it will take for them to be done. Tom pointed out that clearly defined chores help the kids to know when they will be done, vs. a never-ending ambiguous sorta-list that changes every day. This morning, my friend Perry reposted Jay Adam’s confessional pray on discipline, and it choked me up a bit. (I never did make it all the way through Elisabeth Elliot’s book Discipline: The Glad Surrender (because it was too painful to read!) but I’m thinking I should probably pick it up again.)

After a recent ear infection, we discovered that Aiden is allergic to penicillin. He was a trooper as he endured a terrible head-to-toe skin rash that lasted for nearly two weeks.

I, too, had a fun little medical scare. After a physical where I mentioned irregularities in my cycle, a complex ovarian cyst, which had solid mass and fluid build-up, showed up in an ultrasound. I’ve never received a call so quickly with results as I did from that ultrasound, along with the insistence on getting an MRI to determine if the cyst was malignant. What an ordeal, and relief to hear the results. Not only was it benign… the cyst was just plain gone. I’ve had my share of issues with my crazy body, and that doesn’t even include my pregnancies! I’m thankful that I’m okay.

Speaking of pregnancy, I’m excited to be teaching Bradley Method natural childbirth classes again this fall. This week, I updated my affiliate website. I love and teach the Bradley Method because it prepares the body for an optimal birth. For four out of five of my pregnancies and births I used the Bradley Method. After seeing excellent results first hand, I’m quite passionate about helping others to have good birth experiences. If you know of a natural-birth minded expectant couple, please do send students my way!

I’ve also been asked to do some tutoring in writing for students who could use a little nudging. The age group will be tweens. Again — feel free to send students my way! I love to help people learn to express themselves through writing.

In other news, I now have a gym membership and have been going several times a week. I’m getting faster (15 minute mile down to nine minutes!) and stronger and it feels really good.

Last weekend, we went to Penn Lake and had some quality R&R with our extended family. One of the highlights was floating on the lake, tethered to an large booze-filled cooler, with 20 other women. Oh the conversations! What fun!

Finally… if you love apples, you need to make a Whiskey Apple Crumble (preparation process photo shown above) with the recipe from Bubby’s Homemade Pies. It’s the kind of dessert that inspires a backyard party with friends.

Well… the motorcycle is done being inspected. Time to go pick it up.

I’m still here.

You are loved.