Butterflies and music

Summer is getting rolling out here in the Southwest, and we’re spending a lot of time out by the pool. The pool at our apartment is surrounded by lantana bushes, and they attract butterflies like crazy.

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Lantana, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, as I’ve been sitting out there, watching the kids splash around, I’ve noticed a ton of butterflies tootling around. I’ve recognized the ubiqutious swallowtails, painted ladies, and monarchs, but a few have been completely new to me.

A little Google Fu later, I discovered:

Giant Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Giant Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Pipevine Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Pipevine Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aren’t they cool? I’ve been sitting watching these weird black butterflies zipping around, going, “What is THAT?” Apparently these are all very common in the American Southwest. I found them in a list here.

So then I was tootling around online, and found some music that I’ve been looking for for MONTHS. I’d found it by randomly clicking around Spotify, and added it to a playlist. Then it got pulled from all online stores, and I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me. Imagine my delight when Spotify emailed me to tell me it was available again!

It’s this moody piano-violin thing, and goes into a sort of rock sound halfway through. It’s delightful mood or writing music. It’s by a guy named Paul Schwartz, and I actually found his Aria albums listed on his website. No other vendors carry them ANYWHERE. Thank goodness for Youtube!

In other news, not much else has been going on. This has been a vacation week for us, as the child I babysit has been at summer camp all week. I feel like I’ve been getting to know my own kids again. In August, we will have babysat him for a year, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s been … grueling.

I’ve been working through edits on Malevolent, and I’m about halfway done. Before long I’ll be spamming it all over the place. I mean, hey, it’s a teen paranormal romance a la Twilight or Teen Wolf or insert random popular YA book here. People LIKE these. I keep thinking of it as almost like Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, actually–except set in our world. And my hero uses his dark powers for good whenever he can. (I was heartily disappointed in the cliche twist in Shadow and Bone–I really wanted a dude with darkness powers to be good for once.)

Anyway, that’s what’s been happening in our corner of the desert!

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A homeschooling post

My mom recently gave me Beyond Survival, by Diana Waring–a very nice book about the nuts and bolts of homeschooling.

I’ve been following several homeschooling blogs, one of which is Simple Homeschool. They always feature interesting bloggers and teachers and seminars. Lately they had a lady posting about Waldorf education, which basically runs like this:

Arts, crafts, and science experiments until they’re 7, then workbooks.

While this sounds lovely, I can’t face the idea of arts and crafts every day for school. And what if you have a mixed crowd, with some ages doing crafts, and others doing bookwork (and being very jealous of the younger kids)?

Kind of makes me want to grab a tent and run away to someplace like this.
Kind of makes me want to grab a tent and run away to someplace like this.

The 4 AM campfire, from InterfaceLift

I commented and said as much, and the nice lady replied,

As a non-arts and crafts person myself, I took this Waldorf idea and made sure that we had nice art supplies for the KIDS (not me) when they wanted to use them. I also found that while I don’t enjoy painting or drawing much myself, I do like making things that the family can use (like baking, candlemaking, etc.) and so I’ve put my emphasis there. There’s no pressure, just take what works and discard the rest!

Which has gotten my wheels turning. I’d love for the kids to have some textile art stuff around–you know, beginning knitting/crochet kits, beginning sewing, that kind of thing. And heck, it’d be fun to get some Sea Monkeys or some Triops. I don’t think any of those things cost very much (Sea Monkey kits cost less than 20$).

This is a sea monkey, otherwise known as brine shrimp. Full grown, they're about the size of a kid's fingernail.
This is a sea monkey, otherwise known as brine shrimp. Full grown, they’re about the size of a kid’s fingernail.

So, this weekend, I think we’ll take a trip to Michaels and see what we can dig up.

Another birthday!

My oldest daughter turned 6 last week. She asked for that strawberry cake in my last post. I couldn’t face the idea of small children gouging chunks of cake out of the pan by themselves, so I made cupcakes. This does make for a rather hilarious candles session.

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It looks like a bomb or something with that many candles in it.

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And now it’s a torch! Easier to blow out, though.

Here the kids are as we sing happy birthday.

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Annnnnd … poof!

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And I’m still scraping wax off the table. But it was fun, and man were those cupcakes good.

Volcano-brain and strawberry cake

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Calbuco’s Rage, a wallpaper from InterfaceLift

My brain has looked like this lately. All these ideas just exploding out the top of my head, endangering passersby.

For the past few weeks, I’ve had this cold that turned into laryngitis, and then on into an eye infection that my daughter brought home. It’s pretty lame when you not only can’t speak, you can’t bear to look at my kind of screen for any length of time. So, writing hasn’t been happening.

It makes it hard to look after kids, too, when you can’t yell somebody’s name. “Hey you! Get that room picked up!” I was relegated to being this ghostly person who drifted around, unable to say much, and not much interested in, you know, LIFE.

But I’m finally on the mend, and dying to work on my projects. I gotta get Werebear off to the editor! I have a full round of edits to work through on Malevolent! I have this space opera mystery series eating at my brain like a mouse nibbling at cheese!

Volcano-brain. Explode.

In other news, my oldest daughter’s birthday is this week. She asked for a strawberry cake. I went online and found one that includes strawberry jello, carefully sifting the flour, and so on. I had my doubts that I was up to making it.

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Then I found a recipe that just calls for a regular cake recipe, to which you add strawberry syrup and diced strawberries. My morale has returned. I can totally do that. And strawberry buttercream? Sign me up, man!