People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Geographic in our front yard

It always seems that our yard could be a location for National Geographic. There is always something interesting to see.

Here are some scenes from this weekend:

First off, Tony heard a chirping, so moved his flashlight to the sound. It was unfortunate that what he saw was a hummingbird that had been caught by a orb weaver spider - Yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia).

We tried to save the hummingbird, but the spider had already given it the fatal bite and it died just seconds after we removed it from the web.

We have a lot of these beautiful moths that just hang out all over our plants at night. I haven't figured out what kind of moth it is yet.

And the other night, me and Emily spent over three hours watching a cicada nymph morph into a cicada. The nymphs will spend 13-17 years underground, then all of a sudden they all start crawling out in droves to become cicadas. This a
ppears to be the year for them to come out, as we have shells from them all over every vertical surface.

Here is what unfolded:

This is the nymph who h
ad just crawled up from the ground. He is still covered in dirt, and although he is ugly, we grew to see him as cute in his own special way. He crawled around for a long time looking for just the right place to morph.

After a while, he started splitting open and emerging. It was interesting to be there and watch as he quivered and shook while slowly coming out.

And finally, he emerged as a beautiful cicada! I'm still looking up the species, but it is beautiful. It took until 11am the next morning for the cicada to finally fly for the first time.

And just a few more random photos:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Emily had her first fossil dig!

Me and Tony used to be members of the Dallas Paleontological Society and take Christopher on digs quite often. After Emily was born, we stopped going, and intended to start again sooner. Lately, Emily has been looking through all of our fossils and showing a great deal of interest. We decided it would be a good time to take her on her first dig, so that is what she did today.

The dig went great, and she found her first fossil within the first five minutes of being there!

It's an ammonite, and turned out to be a pretty good one. It's good to find them whole, which this one is.

We all found several nice ammonites and echinoids, and altogether had a great day. I added a link of more photos here: Emily's First Fossil Dig

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Perseids meteor shower

We have been going out to watch the Perseids meteor shower the past couple of nights. It's pretty impressive! This meteor shower is the result of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. We are in the path of the debris right now in our orbit, so as we go through it, we get to see the show of debris hitting our atmosphere (or would that be our atmosphere hitting it?) and burning up. We have seen many very impressive meteors the past couple of nights. It was Emily's first meteor shower, so was a bit special to us. We take our beach chairs outside and sit with our heads up for a few hours, watching the show. It beats TV any day!

Link to Nasa:

This weekend, we are planning Emily's first fossil dig. We haven't been in a while. Now that she is older and will listen to instructions well, we can start taking her. Wish us luck, and hopefully Emily will find her first fossil!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What happens when a six year old is bored?

They use their imaginations! Or, they create spider webs in the restroom and snare unsuspecting moms.

Mind you, this wasn't just any spider web. You see the toilet paper? That's the part that the spider walks on, because it's not sticky. Spiders don't want to get tangled in their own webs. What you don't see is the clear tape, which is what the spider catches bugs (or in this case, mom) with.

It was a great science experiment and demonstrated how "bugs" don't see the sticky web and go right into it, getting it stuck all over them (including their hair, which is painful to remove sticky web from).

I have a new respect for bugs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asparagus Soup

Yummy Asparagus Soup

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus (I just assume that a bunch will add up to a pound, it doesn't have to be measured perfectly - ends cut off)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (once again, don't measure perfectly. If you are using cans, just use a couple of cans) or more if desired.
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • seasonings to taste (I use garlic and some chef shake. If I have herbs in the garden, I always pick some to add, usually parsley)
  • grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In saucepan, saute asparagus in canola oil until bright green. (be sure to remove the hard ends or your soup will turn out stringy)
  2. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Place vegetable mixture in an electric blender and puree until smooth (or use your immersion blender, which is what I do).
  4. Melt butter in pan. Stir while sprinkling flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. Do not let the flour brown. Allow the mixture to cook only 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the saucepan. Whisk yogurt into the mixture, followed by lemon juice. Stir until heated through, then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The last time I ever take Emily for cheap Mexican food...

Being that it was a busy night and at 8pm I didn't have dinner even thought about, I decided to stop at the local taco place. Now, we don't normally eat that sort of food, of course, so it was a once-in-a-very-long-time thing.

Emily didn't know what she wanted, so I ordered her some chips with cheese (frequently called nachos). It seemed like a good enough choice to fill her up and get the hell out of there, anyhow.

We got our food and Emily sat there staring at her "nachos" like they had spiders in them. I asked what was wrong (which was a mistake, of course), and she said (not in her soft voice), "Look at these. They're greasy! Look at all this grease!" she picked a chip up, holding it like it was contaminated, and continued to exclaim how greasy and "nasty" it was. "What did they do, pour grease on them? I can't eat this! I'm huuuuuuunnnnngry, but I don't want to eat GREASE for dinner!" So, I traded her. I gave her my chicken taco for her chips and cheese. Naturally, she picked the chicken taco up and stuff dripped out the other end of it. "Oh nasty, this is greasy too!", to which I replied, "It's not grease, it's SAUCE." She wasn't buying it. Okay, it really was grease, but it has sauce in it too.

People were staring.
We probably won't be going back to that place again.