Monday, May 16, 2022

Critters and swimming

The other day the kids wanted to make a habitat for a moth that they'd found. I figured they'd found a little lawn moth or something, so told them to go ahead and choose an "throw-away" container or something to use. They found a cottage cheese container in the Tupperware bin and filled it with mud, since that's what they'd done for the billion snails they'd found after a storm not too long ago.

I wasn't too concerned about them drowning a lawn moth in their muddy habitat, but changed my mind once they dragged me outside to see this moth specimen with my own eyes. This was no mere lawn moth. This was a majestic creature, too regal to drown in a muck-filled cottage cheese container:

This is a tuliptree silkmoth. It's chubby and fuzzy and has an impressive wingspan of 8–11 cm (3–5 inches). Its feathery antennae are quite prominent, which is probably a good thing because we otherwise may have confused it for a butterfly since it's resting with its wings folded together (and typically moths rest with their wings open and flat against their resting surface). But obviously that's not a hard and fast rule.

We enjoyed spending some time with this moth, but in the end I convinced the kids that it had a better chance of surviving in the wild, which is probably true. Before then, they cleared out the cottage cheese container to work on a new moth-friendly habitat with sticks and leaves and...

"What do moths eat?"

They eat all sorts of things. It depends on the moth, really. Some are good pollinators and drink nectar. Others eat sweaters. This particular moth, we learned, eats nothing. The kids found this idea perplexing, so I had to explain that many bugs are like this—they eat a lot in their larval form and store up energy to last through their adult lifespan. Their only task, in this case, is to mate, which is why it would have been extra sad to keep this moth in a container. 

So this moth stayed free (you're welcome, moth)!


This afternoon we headed to the pool for the first time. It's been freshly resurfaced, and is already quite warm (compared to the water we encountered at the beach) so it felt wonderful to hop in. We saw a little baby turtle in the deep end (which another (homeschool) mom scooped out and deposited near the fence between our pool and the woods).

Zoë also found a little salamander in one of the drain baskets. It was definitely deceased—all stiff and bloated—but it took a long time to convince her of this. She eventually deposited it in a bush for decomposers to find, but before then she carried it around for ages convinced that it was her very best friend. We basically had to beg her to put it down (but not before taking her picture so she could always remember their time together). *gag*

Anyway, with so many helpers around to hold Phoebe, I was able to give Alexander his first swimming lesson of the season. He did very well and can already float on his stomach, and do a front glide. 

Here he is doing a twisty front glide (moving from his back to his front to his back to his front while swimming in a forward motion), which is quite advanced for a new little swimmer. I think he'll be proficient in no time (perhaps by the time they fix the diving board??).

Here's Zoë holding Phoebe on the steps of the pool:

Benjamin had a blast practicing his dives in the deep end. He can dive in and swim down to touch the bottom of the pool (10 feet) and can dive long and swim across the dive tank without coming up for a breath. 

The swim coach walked by while he was diving and remarked on Benjamin's good form, and then proceeded to set up for swim practice...which was about our sign to pack up and leave for the day. 

But before we did I casually asked about how many kids were on the team this year because I love swimming and (somewhat) enjoyed my swim team days. I'm sure I would have enjoyed them a lot more if the water had been as warm as it is here in Georgia! But I did most of my swimming in BC and Alberta so...I spent a lot of time crying about how cold the pool was. Anyway, I'm fairly positive Benjamin would enjoy swimming on a team as well. Just today he told me that he was imagining what it might be like to have a whole bunch of friends, rather than just a few. 

Poor pandemic kid.

The answer to how many kids were on the swim team is: 150. 

One hundred and fifty kids in our teeny little pool?! Sir, this is a pandemic!

That kind of sealed our fate, which is really too bad because I had dreams of my kids being on swim team. That's part of the reason we chose this pool—so we could join the swim team! Unfortunately, while I am by far more comfortable with outdoor activities than indoor activities, 150 children sharing a handful of lanes simply doesn't feel safe or smart to me (though I guess technically they'll be divided into four different age groups).

So, we'll be working on our endurance swimming on our own this summer (at least when the pool is somewhat empty) and eventually we'll join the competitive team and Benjamin can have all the friends.

At least, that's the fairytale I tell myself.

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