Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Caterpillar discoveries

So, I was walking through my overgrown garden the other day and discovered some caterpillars on my parsley plant.  I thought it was a Monarch...they look very similar..., but apparently it's the Black Swallowtail.  Monarchs don't eat parsley.
Black Swallowtail 


Close, huh?  The Black Swallowtail has pale green stripes between the yellow/black ones.  (It's white, though, when it tiny.)  As they get bigger, the green really takes over.  I guess it's to camouflage them from being gobbled up in the circle of life.

I brought a sprig of my parsley plant inside with a couple of the caterpillars to watch the life cycle.  We have a butterfly habitat (we've hatched painted ladies a couple times before), so we are now just waiting for them to finish eating and go into the chrysalis.  It's really a fascinating process.

Here they are.  You can guess which one will be hatching first.  :-)  I think the juxtaposition between the sizes is cool.  The big one was just brought in the house on Saturday and it was smaller than the one on the left is now.  It's "The Hungry Caterpillar" book come to life...only they are munching on parsley rather than salami and stuff.

We're leaving on vacation on Saturday, so I guess they will be traveling with us.  I'd hate to miss their metamorphosis.  Well, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a great place to be released once they hatch.   I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TOS Review - Picaboo Yearbooks

I loved yearbook time at school...well, at least through Junior High (we didn't call it Middle School back in the day.)  You'd pick your yearbook up and then, for the next few days, you'd be signing everyone's  in the hall between classes or even during class if you were savvy - which I was.  In High School, though, our yearbooks were delivered in the summer.  How dumb was that?  Maybe that's how all schools do it in order to add all the end of the year activities.  When the new school year started, you brought your yearbook in for everyone to sign.

This is the cover of my 3rd grade yearbook.
 Where am I?  
So, being the yearbook nut that I am, you know that when I was given the opportunity to make one to celebrate our schooling endeavors, I was all over it!

Picaboo Yearbooks allows you to digitally create a yearbook, soft cover or hard cover, for a low price (starting at $8.95), with no minimum number of books that need to be ordered and a quick turnaround shipping time (within three weeks!)  We were able to create a 20 page, soft cover yearbook to use for this review.

My musings:
I have never made a digital scrapbook or picture book, so I went into the creating phase a total novice.  The Picaboo site has several video tutorials that walk you through the process and I watched many of them!  After getting into the swing of it, it wasn't difficult at all.  It was really more about learning where the tools were that you needed to complete each section. You have the option to use freeform or portfolio pages (the traditional classroom portrait pages) and then add your information and pictures.  One of the best features is the ability to customize layout templates.  You can change things up (text or picture boxes) by moving or deleting them or keeping them as they are.  You then choose from tons and tons of backgrounds, as well as stickers, that can be used on the pages as embellishments.  You can also edit the pictures you upload and the text font.  There is also the option of creating group members that can add information to the book.  Turn the creating process into a learning experience and have your older students design their own pages for the yearbook.  Fun!  You never know.  You might have a budding graphic designer on your hands.  
After getting into the flow of working with the layouts, the hardest part for me was choosing the pictures and designing the sections of the book.  That was all on me though, it didn't have anything to do with the site.  :-)  Best advice:  plan, plan, plan.  Think about the pictures you want to use and what you want each page section to look like. Study the layouts available and play with the design.   This isn't something that can be done overnight...well, maybe you could if you had completed digital books previously and didn't need the learning curve that I did.  

Our yearbook covered our homeschool journey from the past few years.  I was pleased with how it turned out.  The cover has a gloss finish and each page is full color.  Here is a glimpse of what we did:


Some of my sections included pages for specific subjects (history, science, math), first day of school activities, promotions, birthdays, field trips, miscellaneous pictures of Julianna over the years, as well as a few more.  The only thing I wasn't gaga over was the way the cover turned out, but that was because of my design and picture choice, not the program.
I really enjoyed doing this yearbook and I'm thankful that I had the opportunity.  Michael even said that we should plan on doing one every year now, so next school year, I will be taking more pictures with that goal in mind...and some more with me in the pictures.  I have a shockingly low number with Julianna and me.  I'm not photogenic, so I'm much more comfortable taking the pictures.  Typical mom.  
If you'd like to create a memory book for your school year, check out Picaboo Yearbooks.  It was fun to do and since they've done a lot of the work for you, they're easy to put together.  And affordable.  They also have a sister site, Picaboo, that does photo books, cards, calendars and more. 

Soft cover, 20 pages, starting $8.49
Hard Cover, 20 pages, starting $18.99
Additional pages are available starting at .22 per page
Shipping is $8.99 (ground shipping rates) for your first book and .99 per additional book - express delivery is also available  

I'm not the only one who got to try our this nifty product.  See what my crew mates thought at Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Baby birdies

Checked on the Robin's nest in my butterfly bush and found this:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A walk on the wild side

Let's go on a little nature walk in my yard...that's about as far as I venture into nature.

Teeny baby praying mantis

Butterfly bush bloom

 And while I was admiring the blooms on said butterfly bush, a Mama Robin flew out of the middle of it and scared the bejeebies out of me!  I then found these:

 I have a bush (Let me know if you have any idea what kind it is.) that lines my front sidewalk that tends to be a nuisance  but it blooms tons of these lovely yellow flowers, so I let it stay.  

My hydrangeas.  I love them.

My garden, which is totally overtaken with crab grass.  It's sad when you have to mow the between the rows of your veggies, but it is what it is.  You live and learn.  I'll figure something else out for next year.  It's growing nicely and I can see harvest time coming soon.  We've gotten a couple cucumbers and a lot of herbs.  My zucchini and tomatoes are very close.