Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in spirit, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Oh Lord,

Teach me to seek You and reveal yourself to me when I seek You.

For I cannot seek You unless You first teach me, nor find You unless You first reveal yourself to me.

Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking.

Let me find You in love, and love You in finding.

~Saint Ambrose of Milan

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Name: Erin Yonke

Location: Aurora, IL

Info: I'm happily married to my husband and champion pro-life activist, Matt. I stay home with my three small boys; Ambrose (11/06), Peter (3/08), and Joseph (9/10).

Monday, June 29, 2015

Raising Monarchs, days 11-18

It's Monday morning after a pretty exceptional weekend!  We spent it in the company of good old friends and some good new friends and plenty of good food and wine, too.  I'm on my front porch with (not my first) cup of coffee and getting ready to do ALL THE LAUNDRY! But first.  Monarch recap.

Our first Monarch hatched 13 days ago.
Eating much more, showing his stripes at 1 week old.  

And other cute things that help gather milkweed.... :)

Tuesday was a really hard day with the kids and I had to run to the store...and MAY have stopped to walk around a prairie path by myself on the way to the store...and MAY have found several more monarch eggs in the process.

Thursday morning, about 9 days old.  He proceeded to eat, and eat, and eat ALL DAY.
Thursday evening, significantly bigger.

Friday, one of my new eggs turned black...
Add caption

The little black head tilted to the side...

And slowly emerged!

Can you see him here?  He's eating what's left of his egg shell.

12 days old. Stunning, right?

And that brings us up to date!  At 13 days old, our caterpillar #1 is fully mature (takes about 10-14 days after hatching) and will be ready to pupate (form his chrysalis) very soon.  So excited.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Raising Monarchs, days 8-10

Hey, look at our hungry, hungry caterpillar! 
This was taken on Saturday, right after he shed his skin. You can see the shed skin behind him on the leaf.  After I took this photo, he ate it.  

You can now see his stripes and his budding antennae.  

Nature, of course, is not without humor.  I'm pretty sure our miracle butterfly who left us our precious egg #3 on our sad stand-alone milkweed appears to have left a dud.  That is, an infertile egg.  It still hasn't hatched and I'm sort of convinced that it probably won't.   Boo.

In other news, I have a lot of milkweed recovering and growing back and some new sprouts coming up from seed.  I'm loving our caterpillar and hoping he's not the last one we'll raise this year!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Raising Monarchs, days 5-7

So, good news and bad news.  The good news is that caterpillar #1 is well and thriving.

Can you spot him here? 12 hours old.  He's at the very bottom of the leaf stem.

The bad news is that we lost caterpillar #2.  This caterpillar behaved somewhat peculiarly from the beginning-- and what I mean is this.  When Monarch caterpillars hatch from their egg, the first thing they do is eat their egg shell.  Yes, really.  It's full of nutrients!  Here is a 45-second video of a newly hatched caterpillar doing this, in case you're interested.  This one didn't do that.  Instead, she wandered about for a day, nibbling a very teeny hole in her leaf before she stopped eating altogether.  Weird.  I'm really sad about it.

This was taken on day 5, almost 1 day after they hatched.  You can see that caterpillar #1 is almost twice the size of caterpillar #2.

Day 6.

Day 7, getting ready to move this guy to a new leaf.  Check out how you're starting to see the beginnings of those brightly colored stripes.

And don't forget, we're still waiting on this last little egg!  This is the fourth day, so I'm guessing it will turn dark today and hatch tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Raising Monarchs, days 1-4

Last summer we raised a Monarch caterpillar we got from my friend Renee, and I absolutely loved every second of it. This spring I set my sights on having a butterfly and hummingbird garden.   That is, mostly wild flowers and, very importantly, milkweed--the only monarch butterfly host plant.

I'll spare you most of the story, but you should know that I put a LOT of time and research a̶n̶d̶ ̶b̶i̶t̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶s̶o̶u̶l̶  into the varieties of milkweed I wanted and when to start them-- all to attract the most butterflies ASAP after they got here for the season (they're migratory, just FYI).  I was just getting geared up for Monarch season when--BAM--we got a new roof put on our house and the roofers leveled everything I had growing, leaving one lonely standing milkweed. Sad.  And, I mean, you don't just run to Home Depot to get a new milkweed plant (or 15).  I was d̶e̶v̶a̶s̶t̶a̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶c̶r̶i̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶d̶a̶y̶s̶  pretty disappointed.  I consoled myself with the fact that we could still get a caterpillar or two from a friend who would probably be able to give us enough milkweed to raise it, or maybe we'd see some later in the summer when my plants grow back.  But still.  But STILL.

Fast forward to Saturday, day 1.  My 8-year-old tells me he sees a monarch in the neighbors yard, ON MILKWEED.  And I think, No son.  The neighbor doesn't have milkweed, which is WHY I HAVE BEEN OBSESSIVELY TRYING TO GROW IT ALL SPRING.  But I nod.  "Oh yeah?  Cool.  I'll have to check that out."  Later that day, sure enough, I see a small milkweed peeking out from behind a rosebush just neighboring our yard.  And sure enough, be still my heart, there are two delicate little eggs hiding beneath a leaf.

We cut off the leaf and brought it in, placed on a slightly damp paper towel in a tupperware sandwich container, praising Ambrose all the while for being so observant.  I'm stoked.  These eggs will hatch in 3-5 days.

On Tuesday, day 3, we saw another monarch fluttering around outside our house.  (They're SO pretty, by the way.)  The kids and I watched as she slowly made her way to our one, lonely, sad-looking milkweed sitting beside our driveway.  She left us egg #3, which, by the way, felt pretty darn miraculous. :)

Egg #3

As the eggs get ready to hatch, they darken.  We noticed the contrast between the almost-ready Day One Eggs, and the fresh Day Three Eggs:

Late at night on Day 3, I noticed one of our eggs was gone and in its place was a teeny, tiny (and I mean TEENY-TINY) new caterpillar.  This morning the second one hatched.

This is the first, moved to a fresh leaf and ready to be placed in a jar.

And this is the second, freshly hatched near it's empty shell.  You can hardly see it, but if you look closely you can see its little black head.  

Stay tuned for more about our Monarchs!