The Butterfly Blunder

The Butterfly Blunder, Confessions of a Homeschooler
by Stef Layton

When we first started homeschooling a friend invited a few homeschooling families to her house to give a little “show and tell” day on Butterflies. She was creating a butterfly garden and was using her semi screened in back porch to keep the butterflies they had been harvesting for everyone to enjoy.

We participated in a butterfly craft, butterfly snack, butterfly story time, butterfly Q&A;, and time to hold and examine some dead butterflies. Her one butterfly day made my whole homeschool efforts seem weak and pathetic!

Moms went home with a few milk weed seeds and grand ideas to create a butterfly garden just like Mrs. Monarch showed us.

Well – me and the boy planted our milkweed seeds right in the perfect spot for plenty of sunlight. And since it is where the house roof and garage roof meet – a perfect place for a downpour of water after a rain. Our poor little sprouts couldn’t handle the beating.
At first I didn’t realize why they were looking so limp and wimpy, and wild horses would not allow me to call Mrs. Monarch to ask for any type of help. It took 2 rain storms to figure it out for myself.
Once the plants were more beaten down than alive – I transplanted them to the side of the house where there was NO POSSIBLE WAY for them to be ruined. Until my husband mowed the yard and hacked them down to dust.
I quickly cruised to the popular hardware store in hopes of replacing the plants before my son noticed they were destroyed. And even tried to find bigger ones so my son would think a butterfly miracle had occured overnight. What? He was in kindergarten!
No such luck! They were sold out of milkweed. (Mrs. Monarch probably had beaten me to it – I knew it and I clutched the steering wheel – oh she wanted to play hardball huh??). So I drove around to another and another and 3 stores later finally gave up hope of buying milkweed since they were ALL sold out.
After giving my husband a lecture that he completely ruined our science project for the year and we’d probably FAIL homeschooling … the milkweed pulled a Samson on us and started growing again!
The family stood over the pathetic milkweed and cheered. We gave thanks to God, to butterflies, to nectar, pollen, to science, and rain – and I celebrated that I was not a complete homeschooling failure.
The afternoon we packed the car for our long week vacation – we found eggs on our milkweed! Normally I would have transplanted the milkweed into an aquarium so we could watch the caterpillars and observe the chrysalis stage but we pulled out of the driveway instead and headed to North Carolina. I said a prayer our babies would be there in a few days when we returned.
They weren’t. The milkweed was gone – ate down to nothing and the caterpillars had all packed up their belongings and moved to a nicer place that offered a better buffet.
There – beside the house and dirt patch of previously healthy milkweed – I cried. How on earth was I going to be a good homeschooling mom if I couldn’t keep anything alive? I was going to have to send the child to public school because I was a science failure.
Fast forward 2 years and the boy notices a dead butterfly by our pool. “probably flew in when dad had the screen door open”. The next day – another dead butterfly. “that’s weird – maybe it followed the other one in“. One night we all went outside before the rain to enjoy the cool breezes and we noticed three LIVING butterflies on the inside of our pool screen!

Hubs suggested maybe some of the plants he had just bought from the nursery had chrysalis on them and now we’re finally enjoying our butterfly science project!

I like that about homeschooling there is flexibility we do not have to finish a project in 1 school year. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself … and the county!!

This post was written for The Homeschool Village by:
Stef Latyon is wife to Thad, a golf course architect, and homeschool mom to two hands-on active boys. When she’s not planning the next great field trip, she enjoys yoga and tennis. Stef created The Homeschool Village in 2010.  She shares fun tactile learning projects as well as intentional parenting tips at

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