We had an incredible harvest of grapes this year (year 3).  I made some grape juice.  Unfortunately, after I drank some of the grape juice, I had a bout of stomach flu…  Highly explosive stomach flu… It was very unlikely that my symptoms were related to the grape juice (since my mother had the stomach flu a few days before), but nevertheless we were compelled to throw away the grape juice and all the grapes.   It was sad.

There is a debate as to whether or not we should keep our grape vine.

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In our family, for our birthdays, we get to pick out our own gift.   We took Caleb to a game store (hoping he would pick out a fun family board game), but within 5 seconds of being in the store was drawn like a mosquito to a lightbulb to the home Praying Mantis growing kit.  After some negotiation, we were able to talk him down to a butterfly kit instead. 

After shelling out $20, we found out when we got home, that the caterpillars are sold separately, and we had actually bought a $20 butterfly cage… Somewhat disappointed, we neglected purchasing the caterpillars for a few weeks because we had several vacations to Sequim and Ocean Shores.  But a few weeks later, we finally decided it was time to make the big purchase.  We ordered the live caterpillars. 

They arrived within a week in a little jar full of a peanut-butter type substance.

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The package gave a rough timeline for the butterfly life-cycle.  After one-week cocoons form.  After another week, they turn into butterflies.  Sure enough, after a week, the caterpillars hardened and turned into cocoons.  I always expected that they would spin a cocoon around themselves… but their skin/fur just hardened up.  It was as if their skin just got really crusty…  Then we had to carefully remove them from the caterpillar jar to our $20 butterfly mansion…

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Every day, Caleb would look at the cocoons to see if they have “hatched”.  He spritzed them with water as instructed.  After a week, we were wondering if they had just died inside the cocoons because we missed a few days of spritzing.  About a week and a half later, Caleb came running down stairs yelling that the butterflies were coming out!

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Within a day, all of the cocoons had produced butterflies.  They didn’t seem to fly very well, but it could have been the constricted cage.  There was also this red stain (that presumably came from the butterfly).  It was kind of like butterfly blood that was all over the place.  I think it was some liquid that they expel once they emerge from the cocoon…

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Tenille made a little cocktail of brown sugar water and soaked a cottonball in the solution.  Now and then the butterflies would land on the cotton ball and let down a straw like contraption from its mouth to suck up the sugar water.

After a few weeks, we were approaching the end of the butterfly life-cycle.  Tenille coaxed Caleb into letting them fly free into the November air. 

Although Caleb still probably thinks that these butterflies are flying around somewhere in our neighborhood, it did give me an appreciation for the amount of work it must be to upkeep a butterfly exhibit.  Some of them have thousand of butterflies.  These butterflies need to be constantly replenished which means that there are probably thousands of cocoons somewhere baking for the next batch of butterflies.

After it was all said and done, was it worth $30?  I think so… 

Halloween – Princess and the Frogs

The theme for this year is “budget”… and it seems like the theme for Don every year is “home-made”.  This wasn’t as bad as the year I tried to go as a Bee Hive and some people thought I was a garbage bag, but plenty of folks asked if I was an Alien…  That’s what you get when you cover up a Goodwill wicker basket with green fabric and hope it looks like a frog head. 

I could only wear it for about 15 minutes at a time, because it was quite heavy… Fortunately, the rest of my family made up for my subpar costume. 

Our good friend Bonnie joined us for Halloween.  She got to wear our bear costume from last year, and went all out with the face make-up.  She agreed that it was a very hot costume. 

Looking at the pictures below, it looks like a twisted version of a fairy tale… where the Princess has two frog children… then meets an adult frog… who becomes the step-frog father… she kisses the frog, nothing happens… then a bear attacks, and steals the baby frog…

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