It's a Giant Bee! No, it's a Giant Hornet! No, it's a Giant Wasp!

Okay, it really was a giant wasp...also known as a Cicada Killer or Sphecius speciosus. Easily the size of my hand, she was carrying a cicada that had to weigh more than she did!  Did I mention she was the size of my hand?!  I saw her fly across my yard and crash into the fence.  After she recovered from her crash, she began climbing/flying up the fence carrying her bug.  Check her out:


The kids and I actually had quite the time watching her climb up the fence (and fall and climb again!).  I know my camera isn't designed to film insects, but I couldn't resist trying:


And why does a huge wasp go to so much effort to carry a big old cicada up a fence?  Normal behavior for these ladies includes carrying dead cicadas up a tree, then gliding/flying down to her underground nest, and finally burying and sealing the bug in its own personal room where the carcass will wait for a baby (larval) Cicada Killer to emerge and eat it! 

Like any half-normal mom, I was a bit startled when I saw this huge stinging insect, but Cicada Killers are solitary wasps and the females only sting when provoked.  We kept our distance!  Males don't sting, but have been known to dive-bomb people who came too close!  I'm sure the drought here in Houston has made it easier for them to dig their burrows, and I'll admit...everyone here seemed to think she looked pretty cool.

Kaia's Newest Trick


Actually, this one is a few weeks old, but she is still getting as much pleasure out of it as she did the first time she discovered it!  After she makes the bubbles, she likes to eat them!  She is also enjoying teaching all her friends (and her brother) how to perform the same trick!

Kids Love Heart Cake

Strawberries + Heart (love) + Kids + Parents = 4 Happy People!


Making the heart cake is as easy as cutting a circle cake in half and putting the halves on a tipped square.  Of course, giving the preschooler the frosting bucket was a pretty brilliant move too!


Baby's been working on his Fork Skills.  I'm afraid he likes cake.


Of course, forks only last so long.  What can I say...we all like cake! 



Bring on the Rain!

"Don't get wet!" 

"Hurry!  Get under the umbrella!"

"Now we're dry!"




I think we've only had real rain twice this summer.  We've had lots of other rain, though!

2011: A Memorable Back-to-School Season


Every fall I get that Back-to-School twitch.  For some reason, I can't help thinking of lesson plans, fun ways to unite classrooms and get to know students, and my favorite labs and demonstrations!  This year, though, will be memorable for very different reasons:

#1.  The Car We're Buying:


And if this isn't the right picture, it's very similar!  We're planning on getting a Corolla today...hopefully!  We've known for a couple weeks that we were going to buy a car.  Last week we were jogging and Kaia suddenly burst into tears.  I worried she might have been bit by a spider or Fire Ant...or something.  When she finally slowed the tears down enough to talk she told me, "I just love our car.  It's so beautiful!"  She has, however, agreed that this one is pretty enough.  How's that for a Back-to-School memory!

#2.  Jon's birthday is tomorrow (birthdays are always memorable!). 
 
Hopefully I have time to post about his real birthday cake.

#3.  The fun place I'd like to visit during one of the next few weekends: 


I really want to go to the beach...in our new car.  Kaia wants to collect seashells and I want to listen to the water.  I'm sure Harry will want to try swimming in the ocean, but I'll do my best to keep his feet on the sand!  It takes us a bit over an hour to get there, so hopefully we'll be able to make the time soon.

#4.  Of course, there WILL be back-to-school shopping!  
 

I will be taking advantage of a couple specials:  
  •  Tax-free weekend in Texas starts tomorrow!  Woo-hoo!  School supplies, clothes under $100, diapers, and more are all tax-free.  Yes, I will be stocking up on several items!  
  •  Tinyprints.com is hosting a site-wide sale right now through Tuesday, August 23!  Yay!  Stationary, labels, planners, business cards, and so much more is available in their Back-to-School tab at http://www.tinyprints.com/back-to-school.htm--have fun checking them out!


#5.  While I won't be at a school building, we will have regular School Time again with Kaia and some of our little friends that visit regularly.  I am really looking forward to homeschooling through preschool!!  It's such a treat to spend so much time with these kids.



This post is sponsored by Tinyprints, who provided a gift card for me.  All opinions are mine!

(almost) Wordless Weekend: Cheerios


Mommy's 2-part Reaction:

1: Aw, He wants Cheerios for his snack!  And he used a chair to reach the table!  What a smart, resourceful, cute boy!
2: Note to self: Next time, put the Cheerios away immediately after use.  Do not leave within three feet of the edge of the table!

4th of July Parade

I know it's the 9th of August, but we had so much fun at the 4th of July Parade that I just had to share a few pictures...even if it is a month later!

We found a fabulous shady spot under some trees in front of a grocery store,

 

and were lucky enough to find some friends to watch the parade with!


Kaia found this little critter and was very excited to show him to me...I was very happy that she didn't mind picking up the little guy.  


 Harry spent most of his time doing this:

 

or this:  (his first introduction to the candy...)
   

  

Actually, it was the first time Kaia tried this kind of candy too.   She and her little friend loved catching candy flying from the floats!


 And, of course, some of my favorite floats:




Is this a "float?"  They walked that parachute along the entire parade route and stopped about every half block to play with the kiddos.  Pretty cool.


We also loved all the marching bands.  Kaia and Harry played marching band games for at least two weeks after the parade!


After the parade we went home for naps, and then had a barbeque dinner with some friends from church.  The fireworks didn't start until 9:00 pm, so I decided not to attend this year.  It was a hard choice (sniffle), especially because I think the kids would have liked them, but 9:00 is really late around here...especially for Harry.  I might have thought about taking Kaia, but since Jon was still in Mexico it really wasn't an option to take just one kiddo.  

Even without fireworks, we had a wonderful 4th!!  Happy Birthday, America!


Here We Go Again!

Every few weeks this little guy comes up with something that I really wish he would just wait to do.  A couple weeks ago, he started trying to climb this ladder.  After constantly taking him down for about two weeks, I let him go up.  It still makes my heart skip a little fast, but he was pretty proud of himself.  He's been going up ever since. 

Why Bibs Were Invented

I have a little friend who has been telling me that he can feed himself for months now.  I finally tied the bib on and handed him the spoon!  This is the clean part of the meal:


And here my little 14-month old decides to be more efficient:


And, of course, Kaia's yogurt video:


Silly Faces

This baby has a very silly streak...sometimes, he thinks that the end of a meal is the perfect time to make funny faces!  He can make the entire table start laughing!  Sadly, I only have four for you at the moment.  And, clearly I need a better red-eye filter.  Still, I hope you enjoy these!






The Funny Thing About "Weeds"


A few days ago I announced that I wanted to mow down some weeds that were growing near the house.  Kaia quickly clarified, "Not the flowers?!"

"Well," I answered, "Some of the weeds have flowers."

Her lip began to quiver.  Her eyes turned red faster than I knew possible.  "Not the beautiful, little yellow flowers?"

"They will grow back quickly."  Me and my big mouth.  I couldn't just mow the lawn without announcing the weeds!

Kaia was fighting the tears as she began pleading for the life of the "beautiful, little yellow flowers."  What's a Mom to do?

I spared the flowers.

I learned some things too.

I'm starting to appreciate weeds:







While I was appreciating the weeds, this cute little not-weed popped into my viewfinder:


I thought this was another cool looking "weed:"


I never thought I'd call this one a weed, but we can't eat it because it is growing too close to the door frame--where we spray for bugs and spiders.  Sweet of it to volunteer, but...yeah.  As I write this I wonder if it's ironic that I usually buy non-organic lettuce.