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Archive for July, 2009

The bizarre egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, river-swimming mammal, otherwise known as the platypus is definitely a creature that deserves a closer look.

 

Platypuses like to live alone on the edges of rivers and freshwater lakes where they can dig burrows into the overhanging riverbanks.  During the day platypuses often rest in their burrows, but may spend some hours near the entrance basking in the sun and grooming their dense fur, which interestingly has a similar structure to the animals found in the arctic regions – thick woolly fur near the skin and an outer layer of guard hairs that look like drinking straws which fill up with air and act like a raincoat so that most of the animal’s body is dry even when diving. Platypus fur is extremely fine and even denser than that of polar bears and river otters, with 600-900 hairs covering each square millimetre of skin.  Warmth is especially important considering a platypus spends up to twelve hours each day in water as cold as zero degrees Celsius.

 

Platypuses are nocturnal and forage for food every night. They dive for about thirty seconds, generally in shallow water less than about five metres deep, and often rest on the surface chewing for only ten seconds between dives and they can perform about seventy-five dives per hour.  While diving, the platypus temporarily stores small food items in its special cheek pouches. When it returns to the surface to breathe, the food is ground up very finely between rough pads located inside their bill.  The platypus’ diet mainly consists of freshwater invertebrates such as shrimps, worms, yabbies, pea-shell mussels, and immature and adult aquatic insects.  Small frogs and fish eggs are also eaten occasionally, along with some terrestrial insects that fall into the water from overhanging vegetation.

 

Baby platypuses drink a rich milk that is secreted from two round patches of skin midway along their mother’s belly – female platypuses do not have nipples. It is believed that a baby platypus feeds by slurping up milk with rhythmic sweeps of its stubby bill.  Females’ dig elaborate nesting burrows around twenty metres long with multiple chambers and earth plugs which they share with their unweaned young.  A female platypus produces a clutch of one to three eggs in late winter or spring. The eggs are 15-18 millimetres long and have a thin, leathery shell, like those of snakes and lizards. The mother is believed to incubate them between her lower belly and curled-up tail for  about ten days as she rests in an underground nest made of leaves or other vegetation collected from the water.   When the juveniles first enter the water at the age of about four months, they are nearly as long as an adult.

As the platypus hunts underwater and predominantly at night, hearing and eye-sight are of little use in detecting prey. Accordingly, the platypus closes both its eyes and ears and relies on its “sixth sense” – an electro-receptor system, located in its bill.  Even though the platypus’ bill is commonly said to be duck shaped it is not at all hard like that of a duck, it is in fact rubbery, flexible and covered with skin.  The upper and lower bill surfaces are packed with hundreds of receptors which respond to touch and the tiny electric currents produced when invertebrates move in the water. These receptors are also believed to be vital to the platypus’ ability to navigate successfully among rocks and other obstacles when submerged. 

 

So even though the platypus can’t see or hear its potential food, it knows it’s there – it can sense it.  This is really a great picture of our relationship with God.  We can’t see Him with our eyes and we can’t hear Him speak with our ears, yet we know He’s there.  If we are tuned in there are times when His voice seems as loud as a thunderclap and His love so clearly seen in the tiny opening flower bud or smile of an infant. 

 

Tuning in isn’t easy – everything here is so noisy and we are so busy.  But God begs us to be still and know that He is there.  Turn off the music, step outside of the chaos and spend some time listening for God’s voice – He’s always talking to us, we aren’t always listening.  How do I know God is there and that He loves me – I can’t really explain it, but I know that He is and I’m glad that His unseen hand is leading my life. 

 

He’s leading you too, why not take the time to tune in to His voice.

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Birthday celebrations are a special part of the Cinzio household and this year for her fourth birthday – Princess Joybug wanted a butterfly birthday, with butterflies all over the house!  Here are some of the things we did, both for her birthday and her party.

Decorations…

I found some butterfly cutouts at a two dollar shop and blue tacked them up around the house.

Here is our table decoration for her birthday breakfast – there were also pink butterflies spread all over the table.

Butterfly table

The serviettes and cup represented a flower, with the spoon sticking out as the stamen.  To do this, you unfold the serviette and then grab the centre and stick the centre down into the cup, this then makes it look like a flower – then add the cutlery.

flower serviette

We also have a present treasure hunt – it’s sort of a tradition in our house now.  I gave Princess Joybug some butterfly wings so that she could fly around the house and find her presents.

Butterfly wings

I like to make the birthday celebrations last all day, so they get to blow out candles morning noon and night.  Here are her birthday blows…

Breakfast candlestea candles

Lunch candles

I made her birthday cake on her actual birthday more simple as I was going to have to make another cake for her birthday party.  So her cake was little butterfly cakes – you make them by scooping the top off of patty cakes, inserting cream, then cut the scooped out bit in half and then stick the pieces back into the cream, making them look like a butterfly has landed on the cake.  You then dust with icing sugar – quite pretty – here is my result…butterfly cakesbutterfly cakes

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the party…

Food

We had a loose butterfly theme for our food – with butterfly shaped pasta, butterfly cut out cheese, sausage roll caterpillars, butterfly-shaped carob joy biscuits and melon ball caterpillars.

The cake – a butterfly (of course:))

Birthday butterfly cake

 

Games

  • Pass the parcel – as we had lots of adults I included them in the pass the parcel.  Each stop alternated between adult and child.  When the children unwrapped they received a butterfly related prize.  When the adult unwrapped they were asked a question (stuck to the paper) which they needed to answer.  This worked quite well.
  • Caterpillar hunt – I glued 3 soft pom poms together to make caterpillars, using different colours for each child.  I then stuck a butterfly sticker onto a plastic bag and placed a leftover pom pom in each bag.  The caterpillars were hidden all over the yard and each child had to find 5 caterpillars that were the same colour as the ball in their bag.  This stopped any one child finding every hidden treasure.
  • Pin the butterfly on the flower – pretty self explanitory – except for the blind fold – we inserted a piece of cardboard into a scuba mask – it is easy to put on and you can’t see a thing through it.
  • Butterfly kiss – I made cardboard flowers, making two of each colour.  Then I placed butterflies of that colour into a tin.  This game was like musical chairs, except when the music stopped the children ran and hopped onto a flower – then I drew a coloured butterfly out of the tin and the 2 children standing on that colour flower got to kiss the flower and have a drink of nectar.  This was juice place in these cups the straw representing the butterflies long tongue…flower cupsflower cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoon Wrap – This game got the dads involved.  The children had to wrap up their dads using toilet paper until they were in a cocoon like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly – this got lots of laughs, but I would recommend using 2 ply toilet paper, as I only used one ply and it tended to break alot when the kids were doing the wrapping.

cocoon wrap

 

After lunch the kids watched “Hermie, the common Caterpillar”  a DVD by Max Lucado about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

Here are a picture of the party hats I made – butterfly for the girls and caterpillar for the boys and the balloons that the kids got to take home with them, along with a goody bag filled with butterfly goodies.

Party hats

balloons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great day – definately worth every second of organisation when I heard these words from Princess Joybugs lips – “I just love birthday parties!!!”

Have a great day!!!

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