Sunday, September 26, 2010

Into the Fiery Furnace (Attack of the Stink Bugs, Part II)

I didn't really think that I was one to have a vengeful nature. Honestly, I really try to get along with people. I guess the key word there was "people". Bugs are another thing. They are not people. And I think I may have some revenge issues with the bugs going on here.

This post could also be called the "Battle of the Bugs". You see, since Friday, we have had a 20 degree drop in temperatures outside. This past week we had temperatures in the high 80's several days. Then Saturday was quite a bit chillier, more like typical fall around here.

Today we got up for church and it was pretty chilly in the house. We try not to turn the furnace on this early in the season, so we generally deal by putting a sweater on or building a fire in the fireplace to take the chill off.

When Carl saw me with my sweater on after church, he declared me "bundled up" and said,"Why don't you build a fire?"

"Why don't you build a fire?". I mean, him being the pyromaniac and all.

So he built a nice toasty little fire, and heated the house up beyond toasty. Now we were sweating. Meanwhile, here come the stinky little critters again, the stink bugs. Not one or two. They just kept coming. And coming.

Carl left to take Brianna to orchestra. He came back for a few minutes. Then he left again. Hmm. Nice time for me to settle down and do some reading and maybe some blogging.

No sooner do I sit down than I see two stink bugs. Now I am bothered, but not too much. Not in the mood for messing around, I get a napkin, squish the bug, and throw it in the fireplace. No sooner do I sit down again, than here come 3 more. Sheesh. Five. That's a lot.

Okay, get another napkin. Squish bugs. Throw in fireplace. Done.

Sit down again.

So I don't bore you (more than you already might be), just repeat this sequence...say about 20 times. I am

Now I'm getting "orked", as Carl likes to say. As I put them in the fireplace, I think I'm so clever, sending them off to "bug hell"!

But they apparently thought it was the fiery furnace, and Jesus must've been in there with them. Because for every one I put in the furnace, 3 or 4 came out of the fireplace.

By now, at least half an hour had gone by, and my anticipated peaceful afternoon had been shot to you-know-where (excuse me while I go kill a bug). Anyways, as I was saying, how can one get any creative juices flowing while these stinky bugs buzz around and crawl above my head?

Oh, by the way, the other day when the house was entirely quiet and I sat down to do my bills at the kitchen table, I heard a rustling sound coming from the fireplace. I thought there was a bird stuck in there, or maybe a mouse or a chipmunk had gotten in there. I don't like to ask for trouble, so I took the if I ignore it, it will go away approach. I have this funny feeling it was not any of those, but rather our friendly stink bugs dropping in for a visit.

I think we're in an all out war now. I killed 2 while writing that last sentence. Am I being punished in some weird way for sending these bugs to their doom? What would you do? Do you have this problem too? Maybe I'll go visit Arizona until the weather gets cold. I hear they don't have any bug problems there!

*Note: I think I have killed at least 50 bugs while writing this post, no lie! And I'm looking at 3 more while I sit here. Gotta run!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall into Reading 2010

My children inform me that today is the official first day of autumn, and I have been looking forward to fall for more reasons than one. One big reason is that I have been wanting to participate in Katrina's Fall Into Reading Challenge. This is my first time to join in and I am really excited.

I've made my list "doable" for me, ie, small. Only 8 books. If I get through these books, then I plan to come back and add more to my list. But this will be good for starters.

So here's the list:


Even Now - by Karen Kingsbury I'm a big fan of Karen's books. And I've just discovered a whole shelf of them at our church library. Yeah! This one was just chosen at random.

Return to Me - by Robin Lee Hatcher Borrowed from my sis, who is also joining in the reading challenge.

The Call of the Wild - by Jack London I have to be honest, I don't remember ever having read this book. I guess it never really "jumped out" at me. But since my 8th grade daughter will be reading it for school, I am going to read it, too.

Handle with Care - by Jodi Picoult I started this on vacation, but never got a chance to finish it. When I read her books, I can't put them down. I may have a few late nights with this one!


Girl's Passage - Father's Duty - by Brian and Kathleen Molitor Carl won this at a Father/Daughter dance when he took Brianna a few years ago. It's been sitting on the shelf ever since. It looks good. So I know I'm not a father, but maybe I can still learn a few things.

Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page - by Sheila Bender Another one from off the bookshelf.  A little motivation for my creative side.

An Army of One - by Zev Chafets A biography about Rush Limbaugh, but also an insight into the conservative movement. Very intriguing book that I started this summer, but never finished.

Don't Waste Your Life - by John Piper Given to me. John Piper is deep, but has some tremendous thoughts to share in this book.

Okay, that's my list for now. I'm so excited to be a part of this reading community. I have already checked out a few of the links to other's reading lists. This is going to be fun.

Now to go figure out the "Mr. Linky" thing. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Attack of the Stink Bugs!

It seems like every few years we have a plague of sorts of one bug or another. I remember the 17-year locusts, or cicadas, which supposedly come in hordes every 17 years. They bore holes in the tree branches to lay their eggs, causing many trees to die. People were scraping them from trees and burning them, there were so many of them. You couldn't walk outside without them jumping up in your face or your hair. I felt like Laura and Mary Ingalls with the grasshoppers that descended on the midwest and ate all of their crops. After awhile they couldn't even go to school. Who wanted to walk to school with "crunch, crunch" under their bare feet?

One year we had bees that built a nest up in the attic. They eventually chewed their way through the drywall and came down into our laundryroom and into the kitchen. After being out one night, we came home to a houseful of bees, everywhere! Scary.

A couple of times we had the ladybugs everywhere. Usually I think ladybugs are kinda cool. But hundreds of them? Coming in at every little crack or crevice of my house. After awhile all I could say was "ick"..."be gone". I didn't like ladybugs much after that. They had ceased to be cute when I found them all over the windows, the floors, up underneath the curtains in every bedroom, inside and outside the screens. You get the picture. 

Now we have the attack of the stinkbugs. I was going to attempt to take a picture of them, but at this point I am still a little too grossed out to take a picture.  It's bad enough that every morning they are showing up at my front door...inside the house. It's bad enough that I'm killing a few in my kitchen each day. In the afternoon when I go to lay Kaylee down for her nap, there have been one or two in the bedroom or the kids bathroom.

Today, seven in the kid's bathroom. Five in the master bath. Three in the kitchen area. And many more outside on the screens. It would be a great day for opening the windows and letting the breeze blow through the house. But no, not today.

Not until we are done with the attack of the stink bugs. I am not usually one to gross out over bugs. A bug is little, ie, smaller than me, so I should by all rights be able to kill it and move on with life. But I have spent the whole afternoon trying to swat these little critters and dispose of them. Sorry, but I don't want to go to bed tonight with thought of them crawling around in my room somewhere.

If there was an Alfred Hitchcock movie called "The Bugs", these things would be the stars. They buzz like a wasp, they are definitely ugly, and they don't die very easily. Each one takes at least 3 swats with a fly-swatter before they give up the ghost. Then I flush them just for good measure.

Is anyone else experiencing the plague of the stink bugs? I hope it's over soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pausing to Remember

Saturday was a busy day for me. A little girl we know was having her 3rd birthday party. Also a good reason to gather the family for a last picnic before the weather turns too cool. So the day was spent running around doing last minute errands, doing some more cleaning (of cobwebs that tend to accumulate over the summer), folding another pile of laundry, wrapping some gifts and cooking food.

Kaylee was overjoyed that all her "fwiends" were coming over (grandparents, aunts & uncle, and a neighbor). She was a delight to watch as she once again charmed us all with her sweetness. How precious the memories of how God sent her to our family. She is a special girl and much loved. We thank the Lord for her. So aptly named....Kaylee "Joy"!

In the busyness of the day, I had no time to revisit the events of 9/11 in my mind. No time to pause and remember where I was on that day, or how I felt as I watched those events at the WTC, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA unfold. So today, I took some time to replay those events in my mind. I remember holding my babies close and crying out for God to be merciful to our nation.

In the nine years since the attacks, I think I have once again grown complacent. Sure, I'm busy like everyone else. And of course, I always wonder "what exactly can I do?" The answer always comes back to me loud and clear, "pray". II Chronicles 7:14 "If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." May God have His way in the hearts of men and may He be eternally glorified.

Today is also a day to remember my dear uncle Tom. Today would've been his 68th birthday. But on June 13th he passed away. It is difficult to grasp the fact that he is gone. He lived a full life as a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend to many, a Benedictine monk, and a nurse. He was probably the biggest influence on me when it came to the intrigue and adventure that learning could be. He was always giving my sister and I interesting books , CD's, and mind bending puzzles. He loved to travel and be free to be his own person. I loved that about him. He also was a very deep and disciplined person as well. I still am struggling with the pain of regret in not visiting with him more often in recent years, and especially not going to see him in the last weeks before he passed away. I had no idea he was near the end. I miss him terribly, but rejoice that God gave me such a person in my life to encourage my love of all things silly, love of learning, and also encourage me in understanding and parenting my children. I will cherish the memories. Uncle Tom, you are in my heart forever.

Today is also my father-in-law's birthday. His is an undisclosed age, but he has amazing amounts of energy for his age. He is a devoted father and grandfather, and well-versed in many subjects, making him a very interesting person to converse with. Thank you, Dad, for all you do for our family, and for loving on our kids so much. You are special to us all. Happy birthday!

Thanks for obliging me as I take the time to remember some special people in my life, both past and present.
*Note: Written on Monday, September 13.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Summary - Part II

Around here the end of August usually finishes off with some drastic changes in the weather. Although we have had that, just as quickly it has gone back to being hot again, followed by some milder temps, but still summer-like. This is not a meteorologist report, just to let you know that it has been an unusual, but good transition away from summer vacation and into school. And yet it doesn't feel like summer vacation should be over at all.
I miss them already, but I do look forward to this "fall" season. It is fun to do some more looking back over the summer. We made some good memories. We had lots of late nights, tons of swimming (even though we battled the algae bug for a month!), time with friends and family, a vacation, summer camp for the first time, trips to the library, and best of all, time to play, be carefree, and enjoy being with one another. I will once again let the pictures tell the story.
Chilling out with my honeys.
Had a blast at Di & Mike's!
What a "great" Aunt we have. We are so blessed!
 The birthday girl! Mom, you are so beautiful, inside and out!
The boys went to Bible camp for the first time ever. They're already begging to go again next year.
It was a hot, humid week. But a week of sun, swimming, fun, friends and God's blessings.
The first day of vacation I managed to back into a tree. (There were plenty of them.) The rest of the week Kaylee reminded me "don't hit a tree Mommy"!
Nevertheless, we still had an awesome time of hiking, relaxing, enjoying God's creation and each other.
Aunt Di and munchkins at the cabin.
What would summer be without a car show? Jeremy took a hundred pictures,
ate his heart out at all the hot rods,
and drooled over all the Mustangs.

To my sister: I am thankful to you for being so involved in the lives of my kids and going along with us on vacation and some other outings. You are the best encourager, friend and sister a girl could ever have.              
To my kids: I enjoyed my summer immensely with you. Daddy and I are so thankful for you and the joy you bring to our lives. Despite the fact that Daddy was very busy this summer, he encouraged and allowed us to do many things. For a person who craves routine, summer is usually a great challenge for me. I am thankful that the Lord gave me ideas and the resources to carry them out. I have enjoyed watching you grow and mature this summer. You are the best kids a Mom could have.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Summary - Part I

As summer winds down, I thought I would get back on the blog-wagon with a snapshot of our summer - in pictures. Saves me from having to think too much, except that I have to remember how to upload the pictures!

I am not always johnny-on-the-spot with the camera, so this only consists of activities for which I remembered to grab the camera. Actually, with all that goes on, sometimes I just would prefer to be "in the moment" instead of running for the camera.

We started off the summer with a birthday. Travis turned 9!
My little tradition - to take a group photo on birthdays. It's fun comparing from year to year!

Little pals chilling out during monsoon season in early June!

Brianna & Jeremy picked fresh strawberries for me at one of the local farms.! (Eating while picking was fun, too! Oops!)
Turning strawberries into jam late at night with my neighbor and friend!
The kids posted their own lists of rules. I think they stuck to them pretty well.
We asked the Lord to help us be more intentional about this.
Swimming with Dad....tons of fun!

Dressed up and ready to go to church on the 4th of July. (They LIKE matching! I don't make them do this.)
We enjoyed a pleasant 4th with my parents....
...and Carl's parents.

The closing program for our church camp, "Summer Surge". I love seeing their enthusiasm for the Lord.
I promised my big kids that I would take them to a major league baseball game. We were lucky to get some tickets given to us. Great seats, too!
 I pulled Travis down the steps in a hurry to get his picture taken when I saw the Pirate parrot coming towards us.

Well, I've realized that this is turning into a very long post. And since I'm having issues aligning my text, for now I'm going to sign off, til I get the rest of my pictures uploaded. Stay tuned for Part II.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sentimental Journey

I am by nature a sentimental person, but two times of year I get more teary and sentimental than usual.  The beginning of a new school year, and the end of the school year.  They are mile markers in my children's lives, marking out how much they've grown and changed. 

The little kindergartener who started out this year so anxious to read is now an emerging reader who also likes to write quite a bit as well.  It has been such a joyous journey to watch his teacher (a first year teacher) work with him on both academic and social issues.  She has brought out the best in him, challenged him, and nurtured his growth in so many areas.  Corey told me that June 9th would definitely be his "worst day ever" because he is going to be done with kindergarten and he will miss Miss Smith.  (I think he has a little crush!)  I will miss her, too.  She has been a great influence on my little son.

My second grader is going to be turning 9 in just a few days.  He started out the year being homeschooled, but around December we decided it was in his best interest to have him return to public school.  God blessed him with a very kind experienced teacher who was just perfect for Travis.  It has been a challenging year for Travis in some ways, but when I see the growth and the maturity, I know it has been worth it to go through the tough times.

My only school kid to stay homeschooled this year was Jeremy, age 11.  I know that homeschool was nothing fancy this year.  But we are mighty happy with ourselves for finishing up a whole year here at home.  He will be going to middle school next year, and I will really miss him.  I know that God is going ahead of him to prepare the way.  When you put your child in God's hands, you can be assured that he is in the best possible place.  Jeremy was (and still is) such a blessing to me this year in so many ways, always willing to help with whatever I asked him to do.  He did his assignments without complaint and he did them well.  I have enjoyed this year with him.

My big girl, Brianna, also started out this school year at home.  At about the midway point, she went back to public school also.  Not that we really meant to do this in the middle of the year.  But this is the way that things worked out.  I can look back with regrets, or I can look back and be thankful for all that we learned.  I choose to be thankful.  Brianna made the transition back to middle school without any difficulties whatsoever.  I give her so much credit for all the hard work she puts in.  She is a high achiever.  God made her this way.  She strives for straight A's and always tries to do her best.  I have really come to admire and appreciate her drive!

Then there is our little Kaylee.   It is hard to believe that she started out this (school) year as a just turned 2 year old!  Looking back at pictures, she seems so small.  She is talking so much more now, nearly potty trained, and her mantra is "I do it myself!"  The kids say she goes to "baby" school.  I guess she really does.  She has learned to sing the ABC song, has memorized books to "read" to us, helps us tell time (it's perpetually 8:40 to her), and makes us laugh at her funny antics.  What a joy she is to our family.

Today as I watched the 2 younger boys at their school's Memorial Day program, I couldn't help but tear up.  They are growing up so nicely, making their mama so proud.  Life just keeps rolling along.  I try not to think too hard about the fact that it is all going so fast.  Only 7 more days until school is out for the summer.  I look forward to spending more time with these awesome kids!