Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Omega

Most of the A-Z Challenge I wrote about things in the natural world that testify to the glory of God, as Romans 1:20 says:
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
My challenge to you is this: take some time to study God's world. Keep learning new things about nature. Not that you have to go back to school or read some boring textbook or become an expert. Just look around you, look things up. Share some amazing facts you've learned!

In Revelation 22:13, God says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

I started April with Alpha. God is the first, the beginning. Creation started with him. Everything started with him. He is also Omega, the end. Omega doesn't start with Z. But Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. And Z is the last letter of ours.

So I started April with him, and I am ending with him. For all of us, I offer this prayer:

Thank you, Creator God, for the universe and all it contains. Thank you for the beauty and diversity that cover this great Earth. You desire to show yourself in the things that you created - please help us to see you in them. And help us to care for the Earth that you made us stewards over. You are truly an awesome God, deserving of all praise. And we praise you. Amen. 

Congratulations to all my fellow A-Zers who made it through the challenge. I look forward to reading lots of the follow-up posts.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yawn!

My day started in Moorefield, WV. We had been visiting my husband for a few days, but had to come home this morning. At 6:30am, after a sleep-deprived night spent hyper-aware of the pacing around of my restless dog, I drug myself out of bed and started the cleaning up and packing up process.  We were on the road by 7:15am, but instead of going straight home, we had to go to State Line, PA so I could pick up my farm order. We arrived there at 9:30am - right on time. A three minute stop to pay the farmer and put my milk and stuff in the car, and we were finally headed home.

Forty  minutes later, we pulled into our driveway in Frederick, MD, and started a flurry of activity to get ready for the next part of the day. We brought in the farm stuff, put it away, unloaded some things from the car, checked to see if our Robins had left the nest (they had), my son got a quick shower, we changed clothes, opened a delivery box that was sitting on the porch, grabbed a quick snack, and were back in the car 45 minutes later. Next stop was to pick up a necklace I had ordered the night before, from the husband of my beautiful, talented friend who makes jewelry - click the picture of my necklace to go to her website. I gave him a call, and went a few blocks over to where he was doing some community outreach gardening to get the necklace. Then on to the bank to get out some cash.


After the bank, I went to my mom's house. It was supposed to be a quick stop to drop my son with my sister for my nephew's birthday outing. They were headed to Baltimore, but we all sat and chatted for awhile first. Yes, despite the fact that I was exhausted at this point (and it was only 11:30am), I had a cup of coffee and we talked books, Gnosticism, and the Secretary Sebelius smack down .

It was almost 1pm when my daughter and I got out of there and headed to the fairgrounds for a homeschool curriculum fair. I bought math curriculum, science curriculum, and reading curriculum, joined the HSLDA, spent way too much time at the Miller Pads & Paper booth (I am a paper-aholic), and chatted with several different friends I ran into. By the time we were done, my daughter and I were both tummies-growling-loudly-and-painfully hungry.  We left the fairgrounds and went a few blocks to eat at Five Guys. Well, Five Guys is right by the library, so I decided that since we were right there, I should go in real quickly and pay my fine. But it didn't end up being quick, because we decided since we were there anyway, we should also get some books. And I just had to want the one book that was supposed to be on the shelf but wasn't. And then made the mistake of asking the staff about it.  Thirty minutes later, we were finally out of the library and run-walking to Five Guys in the chilly spitting overcast grayness. We got the food, then headed home. By this time, I was almost delirious with exhaustion, scarfing fries in the car, so hungry I was nauseated. We got home and ate, but then I needed to straighten the disaster that my living room still was from when we were going through laundry before we left on Wednesday (which we had then made even worse by dropping our stuff everywhere when we got home this morning).

Baby yawns are the cutest!
Then I texted a friend who was supposed to come over and pick up farm milk that I got for her, and plopped onto the couch and closed my eyes for what seemed like a split second before she showed up at my door (it was more like 20 minutes). We spoke for a few minutes about her new baby, she got her milk and left, then I went back to the couch... Zzzzz... I don't know how long before my husband called, but it wasn't long enough. My daughter talked to him, and I said I would talk to him later because I was only half awake...Zzzzz...My sister called to plan when I would be picking up my son. We decided on a time which gave me 30 more minutes before I had to leave the house to drive the 40 minutes to pick him up..."Victoria, wake me up in 30 minutes"...Zzzzz... 40 minutes later, I wake up on my own. "Ahhhh... Victoria, why didn't you wake me up?" She didn't remember me saying 30 minutes. I forgave her because she was almost as tired as I was.

We got in the car to go pick up my son, got a few blocks away and realized I left my phone at home. Turned around, went back to the house, got my phone, and then we're like 20 minutes later than we should have been. Fortunately, my sister was running late too, so I actually arrived at our meeting place before she did. Got my son back, but then fought with him on the way home (we were both tired and cranky). When we got home, it was 8pm...and I wanted desperately to just go to sleep right then. But I had to talk to my husband,  proof read my daughter's blog post, and then do mine. Which brings me to here... Yawn! I'm ready to go to bed. And since you decided to read this whole boring story about my crazy day, I will reward you with an interesting fact about yawning:

You're yawning now, aren't you?
Scientists have no idea why we yawn, but according to one theory, yawning might keep our lungs from collapsing! I think that God just has a sense of humor. "I know, I'll make it so that when humans are tired or bored, they open their mouths wide and suck in air. Oh, and when one does it, everyone else around him will need to do it too... that will be hilarious."  Then he discussed with himself about how cute it would be if animals yawned too... Ok, well, you see I am still delirious. Soo...yawn...good night.




Friday, April 27, 2012

Xtreme

Today I present... some of the most Xtreme animals on the planet.


Xtremely Cute - English Angora Rabbit


Xtremely Ugly (but very cool!) - Blob Fish


Xtremely Demon-like - The Aye-Aye


Xteme Nose - Star-nosed Mole


Xtremely Mean - The Honey Badger 


And, watch this video to see a crazy Xtreme Bird (of Paradise) mating dance!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Waterfalls

What is it about moving water that is so soothing? I love the way it sounds - from the gentle gurgle of a relaxation fountain, to the rhythmic woosh of the tide rolling onto the beach. Even the roar of a waterfall can calm me. And waterfalls can be some of the most awesome of sights. Here are three of the most beautiful in the world.

Niagra Falls, US and Canada -
Approximately 13 million people visit Niagra Falls each year to watch 150,000 gallons of water per second flow over the falls.




Iguazu Falls, Argentina
This system consists of 275 falls along 1.67 miles of the Iguazu River. And the Devil's Throat area is taller than Niagra and twice as wide.





Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
It is the largest singular waterfall in the world at 354 feet high, with a flow of over 264,000 gallons per second! Described by the phrase "smoke that thunders," Victoria Falls is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.





Can you imagine the strength, power, and intensity these falls put out? Now can you imagine that God is more mighty than even these falls? I am so small compared to these forces of nature. And they are so small compared to him. But yet he knows me by name. And he loves me. How awesome is that!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Victoria

Children are a blessing from the Lord. Amen? My daughter Victoria was born in December of 1999, on the verge of death. 

Before we had kids, my husband and I didn't know that we had an incompatibility with our platelets. It causes my body to see the baby's platelets as foreign and attack them. As a result, my daughter was born with a platelet level of around 6,000. Normal is in the hundreds of thousands, so her platelet level was in the category of "nonexistent." As soon as they got the results, they immediately transferred her to the NICU at the state medical university. Platelet levels that low put a person at very high risk for internal hemorrhaging from even the slightest injury. We were told she would probably be there for weeks as they gave her platelet transfusions, and worked to get my antibodies out of her system so she could start replacing her platelets on her own.   

But God had other plans. Despite going through the rigors of labor, she had no internal bleeding, which was a miracle. She responded excellently to treatment and started making her own platelets with gusto. And she was able to come home three days later. 

... which was my birthday.  

I love telling the story about God giving me my daughter as a birthday gift.  And I see the Lord in her every single day. She is an amazing blessing. 

It's been fun doing the A-Z Challenge with Victoria. Pop over and visit her blog, where she shares her thoughts about her crazy life as an almost-teenager. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Update on the Robins

I did confirm that, sadly, one of the baby Robins did not survive. I'm assuming the mama pushed it out of the nest, because it's no longer there. I looked for it under the bush, but I'm sure my dog would have made a quick snack of it as soon as it hit the ground.

But, the remaining three are doing splendidly! They have a good mama who brings them food constantly. And during the last couple of days, which were cold and raining, one parent was gathering food while the other was sitting on the babies, wings spread out to keep the rain off of them.

Today it's sunny and warmer, and the babies are up and down, stretching their wings, and making more vigorous peeping noises. By my count, they are only a few days away from getting out of the nest. I guess flight training will be happening soon? I did read today that most Robins do not make it past their first year of life, which is very depressing.


Protecting them from the rain.
There's only three now.

I want to thank the few people who participated in the Quiz of Qs. Hopefully next time, more people will at least venture a guess! These three did make the attempt, and did very well. Now, go visit their blogs!
Kern @ The Odd Particle [Re]View
C.M. Brown
Sush @ First Do No Harm

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trembling Giant tree

One thing I am enjoying about my theme for the A-Z Challenge is that I am looking at the world more closely, learning about amazing stuff God made that I never knew existed, or knew but didn't know just how cool it was! I know there's some beautiful, majestic trees on this earth, but when I ran across information about the Quaking Aspen, a.k.a. The Trembling Giant, I knew it would be the highlight of my "T" post.

The Quaking Aspen grove - located in Utah - is actually not a bunch of single trees like it appears. It is a living organism spread over 107 acres, with each of it's approximately 47,000 stems having the same genetic code, and connected by an enormous underground root system. And here I thought Avatar's Pandora was pure fantasy. But Jodie Holt, who designed all of the flora for the fictional planet, is a professor of botany. So, she'd know about The Trembling Giant.






Pandora may be fake, but the Earth is real. The Trembling Giant is real. God is real. Amen?

Click on any of the pictures to link to lists of some of the most amazing trees in the world. They have a lot of overlaps, of course, but the pictures and information are wonderful on each list. I'll leave you with one more picture. This is The Basket Tree. It's shape is not natural; it was created by a man who harnessed the natural growth properties of the trees. What creativity!



Answers to my Quiz of Qs:
1-E, 2-C, 3-B, 4-D, 5-F, 6-A. Thanks to everyone who played. Blogs of the winners will be linked in my "U" post.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sleep!

It's funny that both my daughter and I wrote about sleep for our "S" posts. She wrote from the perspective of a teenager who is always tired. I'm writing about sleep because today I'm trying to catch up from being at a birth for 20 hours Friday. Thus my 11pm post about the wonderful gift of sleep!

Zzzzzzz

If you haven't done my Q quiz, go do it now - I'm giving it an extra day. Check it out - you know you want to!
And, be sure to visit my daughter's blog, Growing Up Victoria

Friday, April 20, 2012

Robins

The American Robin is unassuming. It isn't brilliantly colored. It doesn't have a very sweet song. But a nest outside my bedroom window has given me a great opportunity to marvel at God's handiwork. I love birth and babies, even of animals!

The American Robin
Eggs

A couple days after hatching
About 5 days old

 
A week old - halfway there!



I think one of the babies died. In the day 5 picture, one looks underdeveloped - the head is smaller and more pink. I can only see three in the day 7 picture. Would the mama push the dead one out of the nest? These pictures were taken by reaching my camera into the bush. I wish I could get a closer look with my eyes!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quiz of Qs

Here's a bunch of obscure animals that start with the letter Q. Your job is to match the correct name with the correct picture.  Put your responses in the comments. The answers will be at the bottom of my "S" post, and the person or people who get the most correct, I'll link to their blog on my "T" post.
Don't cheat and look them up!!

1. quelea  2. quindio  3. quinquespinosus  4. quino checkerspot  5. quilback  6. quoll

(C)
(A)
(F)
(D)
(B)
(E)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Partner & Friend

Today my husband was home, which is a big deal! He works and lives out of town, and right now he's working 7 days a week. Since I have a client due (I'm a doula), I have had to stay close to home, so we haven't been able to go visit him in awhile.  But today his job got rained out, so he drove the 2.5 hours home to be with the family for just a few hours before driving the 2.5 hours back. That is a man who is dedicated to his family. My post today isn't in keeping with my theme for the month, but I wanted to publicly thank the Lord for giving me such an awesome husband, partner and friend. Love you, babe!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Octopus Camouflage

When I first saw this video, I just. Could. Not. Believe it. So fantastic, so awesome, so amazing! You HAVE to watch it. And yes, I did just yell at you. But, seriously, take the 4.5 minutes and watch it! And, I don't care how any scientist tries to explain it away (and notice he says they have no idea how it works)... it doesn't matter how many millions of years it had, this could not have evolved. Call me stupid and naive, whatever. The complexity here is off the charts! This is so cool, I feel like doing a little dance. God has the greatest ideas!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Night


Countless stars! (source)

Ok, I know this doesn't seem like anything special. Our side of the world turns away from the sun, so it gets dark. Woop-dee-doo. But think about this - night is the time we get a glimpse of the vastness and beauty of the universe. Planets, constellations, shooting stars, the brightness of the moon. It is all up there all the time, but during the day the moon is dull, and the stars are hidden. What a blessing that we have the night to appreciate the universe.


Shooting stars (source)
  






In certain parts of the world, people are blessed to be able to see the amazing Northern Lights. The phenomenon actually happens in the south too, although few people see it because of its location above the antarctic. Here's an explanation of what causes it, from Northern Lights Centre:

"The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow."
See more Northern Lights pics from National Geographic
Source
Particles colliding can cause such incredible beauty? How cool is that? Without night, they wouldn't be visible.

When it's daytime, the amazing creation on earth sings the glory of God. And at night, we only have to look up to see the awesomeness of the Creator displayed in the seemingly endless universe. So don't take the night for granted!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Monarch Migration


Every year, millions of Monarchs descend on just a few different sites on the California coast and the mountains of Mexico to overwinter. There are so many, they literally cover the trees and ground, as the pictures below show. Scientist are learning more about how Monarchs find their way to the overwinter location. From Wikipedia:
"How the species manages to return to the same overwintering spots over a gap of several generations is still a subject of research; the flight patterns appear to be inherited, based on a combination of the position of the sun in the sky and a time-compensated Sun compass that depends upon a circadian clock that is based in their antennae. New research has also shown that Monarch butterflies can use the earth's magnetic field for orientation. The antennae contain cryptochrome a photoreceptor protein that is sensitive to the violet-blue part of the spectrum. In the presence of violet or blue light it can function as a chemical compass, which tells the animal if it is aligned with the earths magnetic field, but it is unable to tell the difference between the magnetic North or South. The complete magnetical sense is present in a single antenna."
 Chemical compass? Now that is awesome!






the Lampsilis muscle - incredible mimicry


Pocketbook Lampsilis
The young of these North American freshwater muscles go through a parasitic stage, during which they must live attached to the gills of a Large Mouth Bass. How do they get there? The muscles have a flap that mimics the small fish that are prey of the Bass. The mimics are amazingly detailed! When the Bass strikes at it, the muscle shoots its young into the fish's mouth, where they will attach themselves to the gills until they are fully formed. Then the baby muscles drop off and grow up on the stream bed.

Here is a short video about it:



How awesome is that?? Creation is way cool, right? 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jellyfish

In my opinion, jellyfish are some of the most fascinating and beautiful creatures on the planet.

The Irukandiji is the smallest at just 1 inch in diameter. It's also one of the most venomous animals in the world. One sting from this tiny jelly causes excruciating pain, vomiting, sweating, rapid heart beat, and acute anxiety.

The largest jelly - known as the Lion's Mane jellyfish - grows an average 8 feet in diameter. The largest on record had tentacles 120 feet long! Its sting, however, will cause a human only minor irritation. There are a couple of Jellyfish that do not sting, including the strange Cannonball Jellyfish.

Here's an interesting fact - Most jellies do not have brains, but the Box jellyfish actually has four brains!

But what really draws me to them is that most are absolutely beautiful! 

See the 17 Most Beautiful Jellyfish Species on Earth


The Atolla jellyfish is on this list. And it's not only beautiful, it has a unique defense mechanism. When threatened it does an amazing thing. See this incredible video of the Atolla lighting up, presumably to attract larger predators to kill its attacker.