Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Face to Face With a Butterfly

The butterflies are back at MSU gardens.
The thing I love about the butterflies at MSU besides the fact that it is free, is you can get up close and personal.
My boy face to face with a Zebra butterfly.

You can hold them just remember to never touch their wings.

It's best to dip your fingers in sugar water and hold your finger in front of them. They will climb on and you will get a close look at your favorite butterfly.

Chrysalis await to emerge and newly emerged butterflies dry their wings. In a few more weeks you will be able to see all 4 stages of a butterfly as eggs are laid and caterpillars can be found on some of the plants.

While there we always go on a hunt for tree frogs. Hint look on the cement wall and the large tree by the pond.

Next we head out to play in the Children's Garden. While there are not many plants in bloom, there is still plenty to do.

Yesterday we had perfect sunshine for testing out the sundial.

If you haven't been, I highly recommend the MSU Children's Garden and Butterfly House!
Don't forget there are parking fees during the week. Not sure about the weekends this year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Am Carrying On a Great Project and I Can Not Come Down!

One day last summer a couple of girls rode their bikes past our home. They stopped to chat with us.
The next day they came back. An hour later we had 10 kids in our back yard.
The next day we had 12. Upon finding out that we homeschool some asked if I would teach them during the Summer. I agreed.
Nearly everyday for the remainder of the Summer I had kids coming over. Most would do some sort of school. Some wanted to do Spelling, while others wanted challenges in Math. Others wanted to play basketball or skate. What they really wanted? Someone who cared about them. A safe place to play without worry. A snack and a friend.
So our family became the caring face and listening ear. Our home and yard became the safe place; we played basketball, let them ride our skates and our bikes. We would dish out snacks and we definitely made friends.
One girl in particular would stop by nearly every day. Before long I noticed a spark about her. I knew she had faith. One day the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask her what she prayed for. So I did. I will always remember her answer.
"I pray that my friends and I will be safe!"
I knew God had called me to open my home to these kids and I now I knew why. Our home, our family was a direct answer to her prayers.
Fall came. Kids went back to school. Temperatures dropped and the kids came around less and less.
All except Taylor!

She would come over every now and then. We had tea parties, played school and board games. Before long she was joining us on trips to the YMCA. So we helped her get a scholarship so that she could come with us every time. Eventually pretty much everywhere we went Taylor came too. And then Chi.
Chi started coming over with Taylor and we loved on her as well. Sharing meals, conversations, games, trips to the Y; life.

They have joined us on skiing trips, trips to the animal farms, parks, the circus and the Youth Gardening Conference.

Here is a picture of Taylor getting over her fear of snakes at Nature Discoveries Go Wild weekend.

These girls have become more than my neighbors, they are my adopted daughters.

I am carrying on a great project and I can not come down!
My desire for this year is to involve my new family in something productive and rewarding. So we will be starting a youth community garden a couple of blocks away from my house. Together we will dig up the earth, plant seeds, weed and water. We will see the fruits of our labor. I will pour into them in every way possible. I hope to teach them more than how a plant grows. I hope to show them how they too can grow into productive people. I hope to show them that they will be known by their actions as either good fruit or bad, the choice is theirs. I hope to see them succeed both in gardening and in life. The teacher in me hopes they will learn great things. The mother in me hopes they will know they are loved. The neighbor in me hopes we can be a positive light to our community.

Today in church I learned that Nehemiah was in the midst of rebuilding the wall, doing a great work that God called him to do, while others tried to call him away from the work. His response every time was, "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go(come) down." He kept to the work God called him to do and did not let the opposition steer him away.

I take from that this; I will not be called away from my calling to care for these kids. Be it two or twenty. Even when I get crazy looks and glances when I arrive somewhere with my "Gaggle of children." Even when I struggle to transport them to the various things we may do. Even when life happens and they go through hard times, especially then. Even when my garage door gets beat up from skates banging into it. Even when the pantry is thin. Even if our vegetables refuse to grow or the labor is hard.
Even then... I am carrying on a great project and I can not come down!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Casulties of Winter; Spoils of Winter

Monday, March 8th, 2010
The weather outside was sunny and 50 degrees. Whenever the temperatures begin to rise the bees once again become active. I decided to head out to the hive and see how things were going. When I got there I found dead bees on the ledge and no activity. So I took a screwdriver and brushed away the dead bees trying to create an opening for the bees to fly in and out. Except they was no activity. Nothing!
Opening up the hive, my suspicion were confirmed the bees DID NOT SURVIVE the Winter.

THOUSANDS DEAD! Casualties of Winter...

Here is the bottom of the hive were you can see layers of dead bees.

Since the bees were gone, we got to take the spoils. We told them in the Fall; Use it or lose it!
They did not use it all so we brought the hive boxes inside to extract the honey.

Here is a full frame of honey.

With a heated knife we scrapped of the wax cappings.

Then placed them in the extractor. Spin spin spin...

Once extracted we poured the honey off into a strainer.

The strainer bulging with honey.

Honey bears waiting to be filled.

The whole family took turns filling the bears and jars.

Honey anyone?

15 little honey bears all in a row. This here is about 10lbs of honey.

In all we got about 23lbs of...Sweet liquid GOLD!

Yummy, yummy honey!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tween Trust

In a state much like Michigan, in a city much like Lansing in a car much like my own, a conversation took place between a woman and a tween. While the details of this conversation will remain confidential, the woman in this situation felt there was much to be said on the matter.
You see it boiled down to broken trust. And while trust had not been broken with the woman, she feared that trust was being broken in other relationships of this dear tween.
So here is the advice the woman shared with the tween:
Communicate with you parents. Speak truth to them. Even if you feel that you will disappoint them or be disciplined it is easier to come clean than to break trust. For once trust is broken it is a very hard thing to regain.
In regards to this tween who is highly trusted, the woman reminded her of all her privileges. Weekly trips to the skating rink, money for a variety of activities, roaming of the neighborhood to play with whomever the tween chose, a trust that she is where she says she is and because this is so she is allowed to do so.
The moment trust is broken all of this changes! The moment a parent finds out they have been lied to or blatantly disobeyed it all changes! They will question every request you make. They will follow-up on every place you say you will go. They will refuse you certain privileges and activities not knowing who will be there and whether or not they can trust you to make the best decisions.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Our Intro to Community Gardens

As a child I hated vegetables. I know hate is a strong word but when it came to vegetables it adequately communicated how I felt about them. With the exception of carrots, corn and ketchup I fought every bite my parents forced me to take.
As an adult I was a vegetarian for 2 years; exploring all types and varieties of vegetables. Slowly over time I learned to love them. Even my childhood nemesis, green beans!
At this stage in my life it appears I am entering yet a new level with the green earth and that which it produces. I, my friends, will be involved this year in a community garden.
Last month I got word of a meeting for those interested in starting a community garden on the Southside. After seeing the Hunter Park garden and all the positive stuff happening on that side of town, I was definitely interested so I attended.
I was encourage, inspired and ├╝ber excited!
I began seeing this as a way for my neighborhood kids to get outdoors. Learn about nature. Take pride in growing their own food. Having a safe place to hang out and do something productive. I began to dream.
The kids and I attended the Youth Gardening Conference where we gained an immense amount of information. Two of my adopted neighborhood kids came along too. We were all hooked and definitely wanted to do this community garden thing ourselves.

Tomorrow is another planning meeting for the Southside community garden which will be located at the corner of Jolly and Pleasent Grove across from the firestation. If you find yourselves in this area and our interested in joining our efforts and vision casting yourself, JOIN US! Let's make a positive change in our neighborhoods.

Community Garden Interest Meeting Saturday, March 6, 1-2:30 p.m., Lansing Fire Dept. Station #6 Community Room (5135 Pleasant Grove Road)

For those in the greater Lansing area, call the Garden Project to find a garden near you. Literally 20-40 gardens are in the works in and around Lansing. Chances are there is one near you!
To contact the Garden Project you can email or call anytime! (517) 887-4660

How about you? Are you involved in home or community gardens? I would love to hear what you are doing.