Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Armyworm Experiment

So, as summer gets into full swing (although the crazy cold windy days can stop any time now), I started the summer off by catching an armyworm in the backyard. Dad and I made a home for it in an old peach jar which we stuffed with fresh elm leaves and a couple twigs. Wait, what? You don't know what an armyworm is? Well, let me show you...

So, that's a couple of typical armyworm pics for ya. They can range in color from dark greens to browns with white and yellow stripe highlights. They're totally hairless and seem to be found mostly on the ground. We captured ours and placed in the peach jar where he stayed pretty much on the bottom of the jar, munching on all the yummy greens at his level. Kinda lazy crawlers, now that I think about it.

Within a few days of his capture, three or four I think, we woke to find a small brown chrysalis that looked like this:

We pulled the leaves out, leaving the sticks behind, and waited to see what would emerge. About two weeks later, on this very morning, we saw this winged critter at the top of the jar...

We grew a moth! How seriously cool is that?! Haven't ever done anything quite like that before. It was fun to watch it every day and see how things changed. I took the moth with me to school today to show my class and then I will release it back into the wild to be eaten, most likely, by a scrub jay, who will eat just about anything.

All this talk about critters has made me long for a new Critters in my World post. Perhaps we'll do that next.

Buggin' out for now. Hunter

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Backyard Projects

The Backyard is kind of an "on going project" according to my Dad and the play conditions have certainly improved, but there's one area of the backyard we're still not quite able to access...the Garden. It's been filled with these white rocks that aren't a whole lot of fun to walk on since we moved in (9 years ago!) and the watering system failed so all the plants eventually died as well. Sad, yes, I know. Oh, and the pump went out of the fountain, so that's been lifeless as well. But...

We got all the dead cleaned up, the rocks are still there, but Dad put a new pump in the fountain and brought it back to life. He says he has a plan to make the Garden more fun, and after our first Garden Improvement Project, I'm optimistically hopeful (Do first graders say that?). So what was the project, you're wondering...

Yes, we built a birdhouse to stand next to the fountain. Using one of the leftover fence boards from the rebuilt fence, my Dad was able to create this. Seriously cool, right? I thought so. We had a lot of fun getting to the finished project, as I'm sure you can imagine if you know my Dad.

Everything was planned, measured, and cut by my Dad. And, despite her initial "Did you buy that from the store?" assessment, Mom was quite impressed with our finished product. If you remember, the last thing Dad built in the backyard was Project: Fort Hunter. That was also a successful venture, although prefabricated and with detailed instructions, unlike this one where we did it all ourselves on the fly with the materials we had available to us. Fort Hunter still stands strong. Now four years old!

So, the birdhouse is up, we're filling the fountain today, and then it will be bird watching time, hopefully. I imagine we'll have to find a way to entice birds to the front step of the house. Some delectable birdseed should do the trick.

Catch ya later.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Penguins and Pajamas

So, it's been a long time. Too long, really, because a lot has happened since my last post. No kidding, seriously, a lot. I lost my first tooth, graduated from kindergarden, turned six years old, and spent the night with penguins!!

On May 19th, my Dad and I spent the night in the California Academy of Science during an activity called Penguins and Pajamas. It was totally cool. The Academy has loads of really awesome stuff like a planetarium, a real live rainforest (my favorite), sharks and rays, a huge aquarium, an albino aligator, and black footed African penguins.

Anybody who knows me, knows there is no animal on the planet I love more than the penguin. So the opportunity to sleep with these cool flightless birds was too good to pass up. Thanks, Mama, for making this seriously cool sleepover happen. You rock as always. I'm blowing you a hug-kiss right now.

Right. Back to the Academy. Best of the exhibits, at least for me, was the rainforest. After walking through a series of secret-base like security doors, we entered a glass sphere that was like walking right into a real live rainforest. As soon as the door closed behind us and we slipped through the black strips of rubber hanging from the door frame, the heat and humidity hit you like a warm wet towel. The whole place smelled alive. Butterflies of all kinds drifted around the three levels of actual jungle plantlife. Bright-colored tropical birds zipped back and forth across the dome, chasing each other through the trees. And right in the middle of it all, was a deep lagoon filled with real rainforesty-looking fish, huge, slow fish. Well, here, why don't I just show you. Check this out:

I tell you. If we weren't sleeping with the penguins this night, I would have fought valiantly to spend the night here. I don't know if we would have made it out alive, but it looked like the really nasty stuff that lives in the rainforest was behind glass and marked "Absolutely No Photographs" or something like that. Anyway, this was my favorite exhibit, although I'm excited to see the new Earthquake exhibit opening soon. It will have ostriches!

We checked out the other exhibits (I think Dad liked the Isands of Evolution exhibit, kept talking about how he'd lived in Ecuador which was really close to this place called Galapagos and has lots of really big turtles, bless his giant heart) and then settled into our sleeping area...

Yes, those are lions not 12 feet away. I slept crazy good and in the morning, we had a relatively scrumptous breakfast just outside the rainforest.

It was a great time. Can't wait for next year. Oh, and look what we got to see on the way out the next morning...

Yes, that's a T-Rex. He was seriously huge and wicked cool!! So, I'm back. I know it's been a long long time, but get ready for more Hunter, maybe even some more Cole on my brother's blog, and perhaps something new...

I'll be back.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer has Come and Gone

With my first day of kindergarten less than 24 hours away, I figured it's time to share a few thoughts about my summer (Especially since I've written nothing about it at all!).

We've had a very good summer, kickin' it off with our end of the year school picnic and barbecue at Contra Loma State Park where I got to do some fishing with my Dad, and my graduation from Jr K!

We didn't catch anything, but Dad said not to worry about that. He said it was more about learning how to fish. It was my first time using one of his poles, so the whole experience was a lot of fun. Maybe next time we can try and catch some fish.

Graduation from Jr K was pretty cool. There was a whole cap and gown thing that was pretty neat. Grandma even came out to see it.

We also took Cole to the Oakland Zoo for the first time. We had a pretty good time. I love zoos and aquariums, any sort of wildlife habitat, really. I just love animals. I can't wait to go to Safari West with my school! Anyway, here's some of the pics we took at the Oakland Zoo.

Oh, I forgot about the animals! We saw all the usual suspects (my favorites!), lions, tigers, and elephants, oh yes!

There were zebras, flamingos, and a warthog!

And, of course, meer cats and giraffs.

With our summer zoo trip behind us and June fast approaching, it was time to get ready for Ethan and Caleb's return home from school and the Big Vacation...Disneyland!

Probably the biggest news of the last five years came during this summer as well (other than the news that I'd be getting a little brother of course). That news we got when we went down to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic in San Jose to have my diagnosis re-evaluated. For those of you who don't remember (and I doubt many of you who actually read this blog could or would ever forget), I was diagnosed with Autism right around my second birthday at this very same clinic. Three years ago! It's been a short but long three years for everyone and we hoped, beyond hopes, that all the work we've been doing, all the sacrifices we've made, and all the dreams we've had to put on hold, were about to be justified. The medical professionals around haven't always believed in the things we've chosen to do to try and win this battle, but they've always been supportive of our decisions, regardless. That was a blessing, to be sure. So, we headed down to San Jose, had some fun at our hotel...

And then we headed over to the Clinic the next morning. It was a worrisome morning. I know my Mom and Dad have worked very hard to help me overcome a lot of the obstacles I've come up against, and while the progress I've made has seemed so very obvious to those around me, nobody was sure what the professionals would say.

After almost four hours of talking and interacting and testing of all kinds, what the psychologist said, with tears in her eyes, was that in all the years she'd been working with Autistic children, in every aspect of their therapy, from early intervention to clinical diagnosis, she has never been able to tell a family their child had improved so much, that she could no longer uphold the previous diagnosis. She had never been able to tell parents their child no longer met the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism or any of the other associated disorders. I am recovered!! The joy as we left the appointment was palpable, thick like banana yogurt. Thanks Mom and Dad, and everyone else for being so patient with me and my Mom, who probably terrified you all during these last few years.

So, what does a child look like that doesn't have Autism? Well, he looks sort of like this...

What's next? Well, Disneyland, of course.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Rest of our Crazy Month...

Somehow, my last post got posted before the post was completed so I'm back for the rest of the post, a continuation of our crazy month.

So, after Frog Fest, we had our field trip to Clayton Valley Farms to learn everything we could about worms, bugs, and growing things. It was a super fun field trip where we learned about making compost (soil), worm factories, and worms in Wormville...

Then we moved over to Sproutopolis and learned about the miracle of growing plants. We even got to plant a sunflower seed!

After Sproutopolis, we took a little train ride through the farm to Bugland and got to go a lookin' for bugs...

One of the coolest bugs we learned about was the bumblebee, a bug very important to the farm and plants because of its role in pollination, the process by which fruiting plants get fertilized and are able to produce the fruits that carry their offspring. Dad even got a picture of a bee carrying out its pollination responsibilities.

Then along came Easter with an egg hunt and a giant white bunny. Cole even got to join the fun!

That last pic is of me and my Jr. K class at Willow Wood School. Ms. Tiff was in our picture too. She's a great Jr. K teacher. To finish the month off, Mom and I took an afternoon trip to Blue Goose Park, a park near our home where you can run, play, and get a little wet to cool off on a hot day.

So, that was the crazy month we had, loaded with fun and school stuff, and just a lot of good memories. But, it's not over yet. No, my peeps, we're just getting started. So, stay tuned for more exciting stuff.