Tell Me a Story about … Toads!

Remember the classic children’s stories about Frog and Toad, two amphibians made immortal by Arnold Lobel? Well, the stories I have to tell don’t deal with the sometimes-slimy frogs, such as the bullfrog who belches in our creek or the leopard frogs my husband tries not to squish with his lawnmower. Nope, these stories tell the tales of toads, the lumpy-bumpy amphibian friend of Frog.

My first memories come from our times at the hunting cabin in Potter County. Hazy summer afternoons often found relief from the heat through a thunderstorm. Though I hated the sound of the thunder reverberating through the mountain and the thought of the lightning maybe striking one of the trees and toppling it onto the cabin, squashing us like bugs, I loved the aftermath—toad hunting!

As soon as darkness fell, young and old gathered buckets and piled into the station wagon. Dad drove to deserted dirt roads and slowed to about 5 m.p.h. He and Mom watched the headlight-lit road, while my two brothers and I waited on the backseat for our turn to jump out and capture the toads which hopped about the roads after rainstorms. Of course, frogs also made their appearances, but being quicker and slipperier than their amphibian counterparts, we didn’t catch many of those. Soon, our buckets resounded with the croaks and garumps of tiny to giant, meatball-sized toads.

One year, Dad let my brother bring a bucketful of these creatures home to put in our terrarium. Unknown to my father, my brother hadn’t followed the rule to keep the bucket’s lid closed on the trip. Somewhere along Route 15, my dad hollered, pulled over to the side of the highway, leaped out of the car, and began jumping around on the roadside! Apparently, some tiny amphibians had decided to leave their metal domicile and hide in my dad’s pants! What a hullabaloo that was! I believe from then on, any livestock were kept in the back of the station wagon.

Another time, when our daughters were young, we forgot to bring a bucket with us when we hopped in the car to go toad-hunting. My sister-in-law, not to be denied the fun, found an empty Pringles® potato chip can in their car. Unfortunately, fleshy toads plopped on top of each other in a 2-inch diameter can don’t enjoy the comfort … and air … of a well-ventilated bucket. We won’t go into what we found when we returned to the cabin, but the memory of my sister-in-law, who probably had never touched a toad in her youth, stopping the car and insisting to be the one to jump out and capture all the toads herself will forever be cherished.

One final story, a more recent one … as in just last year! Our daughter, the one who sometimes admits to being the mother of our two grandsons (ages 5 and 3 at this writing), invited me to her home to make “toad abodes.” The boys wanted to make homes for the toads they kept seeing at their house. Sarah had gotten some old pottery planters, gathered paints and other supplies, and took everything outside. The boys, Sarah, and I painted the planters and glued glass baubles and beads, pinecones, acorns, bits of bark, burlap, and more to the dry pottery. We even added a few locust shells we found on their trees.

With more paint on the boys than their pots and pinecones glued to their fingers, we finished the project, and I took my “toad abode” home to place it on the stoop to our front yard. Alas, no toads thought this a fitting home. Not even a good place to take a nap. One day, months later, my husband found a toad, forced it inside the “toad abode,” and took a photo to send to our grandsons. They were delighted … even if the toad was not!

Do you have any toad stories from your childhood or more recent years? Live toads, book toads, figurine toads, jewelry toads … doesn’t matter what kind! Share your toad story with us! Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … Turtles!

If you’re gearing up for a story about helping a cute turtle crossing the road to get to the other side safely … sorry, nope. Although, we have done this numerous times.

If you’re wondering if I have a story about those tiny turtles (red-eared sliders) in little plastic pond-style containers in the 1960s … sorry, nope. Although, we had many of those, Turtles 1too, and never got salmonella.

If you think this story comes from an adventure swimming with sea turtles at some aquarium … sorry, nope. Although, I sure wish I had a story like that!

And if you decided this story must be about keeping box turtles or wood turtles in a box or a pond on our property and feeding it lettuce … sorry, nope. Although, we may have done that a time or two … or more.

Today’s story involves vinyl tablecloths, tissue packets, felt, yarn, paper, walnuts, and … well, turtles! Let’s talk turtles and crafts.

In our home, both during my childhood and during my own homemaking and homeschooling years, arts and crafts filled many hours and days and weeks and … well, you get my drift. We were and are a family of crafters!

Turtles 5If it involves paper, paint, yarn, fabric, glue, crayons, sketchpads, scissors, cardboard, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, clay … just about anything you can buy at Joann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby, we probably owned, used, or dreamed about it. And we could sure dream up some doozies!

But since this is a story about turtles, I’ll keep my post to its 600-900 words and only tell you about the ones with four feet, one tail, one head, and unique shells. Those shells could hide things or just look pretty. Those shells came patterned, plain, colorful, smooth, or bumpy. Those shells were flat, domed, or ridged.

Turtles 6My earliest turtle-crafting memory used those flannel-backed, vinyl tablecloths popular in the 1970s, felt, sewing materials, a cardboard pattern, and scissors. In fact, I believe, I still have a bag with the pattern we used and a few pieces of vinyl cut into turtle-shell shapes.

These turtles, made from two pieces of vinyl cut into ovals about the size of a man’s palm, hid purse-sized packets of tissues. Why we made them, I don’t know. Hiding the packs of tissues in your purse came easily with the size of the purses of the day, but putting them into whopping vinyl turtles with felt legs, heads, and tails sticking out in six places made it a bit more difficult. Still, make them we did, by sewing the ovals together with yarn in a blanket stitch, inserting the felt extremities in their proper places, and cutting a line in the top of the “shell” to insert the tissues.

Another turtle craft, one with more use as décor, used walnut halves as the shell. These Turtles 2uncomplicated turtles are easy for children to make, but they can be embellished in many ways, enough to allow an adult the fun, too. The simplest ideas include gluing a walnut shell onto a paper cutout of a turtle body, adding googly eyes, and voila! You have a turtle. Put a magnet on the back to use it on the fridge. Paint the shells or add sequins or glitter. Use your imagination and see what comes!

Turtles 4Now, on to my favorites! I love to crochet. As a baby shower gift, I found a pattern for a sweet stuffed turtle with a granny-square-style shell. (The photo is the actual one from the pattern!) I believe my first one was made out of white or pink yarn, with a multi-colored shell. So cute! I’ve made at least three or four of these in various yarns and colors, and I intend to make several more for our grandbabies.

And last, I want to tell you about the tiniest turtles I ever made. I enjoy two older crafts: origami and paper quilling. In the latter, I became enamored with the three-dimensional items, such as stand-alone vases of flowers and animals. I made itty bitty (less than one inch high or long) bunnies and squirrels. As I became proficient, I had the idea to use quilling and origami on pieces of slate, adding bits of nature such as acorn caps and pinecones. I called my new craft “quilligami”! (My husband said I should patent it!)

I swirled bits of quilled blue paper into rivers, created color with quilled flowers, glued acorn caps and tiny pinecones here and there. Around the natural items, I placed quilled squirrels and bunnies, including quilled puff tails.

Last, I used one-inch-square paper to make origami birds, ducks, and … yes, turtles! I Turtles 7glued them on the water, the pinecones, and the flowers. (The pattern here will help you make your own, though I suggest starting with larger paper! LOL!)

Turtles galore … and all made with simple craft supplies and the creativity God placed in each of us when He made us “in His image.”

Your turn! You can share real turtle stories or, if you have the love of crafting I do, share your favorites you’ve made over the years. Blessings!