Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ants and Bacteria

We always love our ants.

I have purchased ant farms many times, and we decided to have another round last week.

We bought the ant farm.  We ordered the ants.  Harvesters, which bite.  

And then this, from my FB post:

The ants for our ant farm arrived today. I cooled them off in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to make them sluggish before popping them in the ant farm and firmly closing the lid. I put the ant farm in our boys' room, as our 12 year old son is the most enthusiastic about ants. As I put our 2 year old to bed tonight, I was interrupted by piercing shrieks from our 4 yo son. Who, in spite of stern admonitions not to, had messed with the ant farm and opened the lid partway, whereupon 4 ants swarmed out. 2 of them promptly bit him. ARGHGHGHGGHGHHGGHGHGHHH! It was supposed to be this wonderful scientific experience and we had stray ants in the house. Biting ants. I killed 4. Hope that's all of them. Ant farm relocated now.

The good news is that the remaining ants did their job and started tunneling. Even better news -- no other ants have escaped. We have them up on a top cabinet in our dining room so they are out of reach from at least our toddler and preschooler.

I'm also growing bacteria, or trying to.  I bought agar plates and swabbed some spots.  Well, I tried with just one plate.  I kept it in our laundry room but it was too cool to grow properly, as it is supposed to be kept between 84 and 100 degrees.

So I dug out our chicken lamp, used to keep baby chicks warm.  This worked well except today the sun room got warm and that, with the heat lamp, shot the temperature up to 115 degrees! So maybe I killed all the bacteria. This is harder than it looks.

Improving our Entry Room

We have names for most of the rooms in our house. Some aren't amazingly applicable.  We call a room between our kitchen and family room "the breakfast room" though we don't eat breakfast there.

A tiny room between the master bedroom and bathroom is the "sewing room" which is Kevin's idea of a joke. Because I'm not good at sewing.  I actually have used the sewing machine in that room 2 or 3 times in 11 years.  Is that enough for that to be a good name?

Anyway...entry room.  It's the room directly in from the garage, so a fine enough name.  It is more aptly called a computer room, as we have 3 computers in there.

Until a few days ago, 1 computer was on a normal desk, one computer was on a tall, gangly, old computer desk, and the last was on a weird little baby desk.  It was tall enough for an adult, but small in size with an awkward rod such that sitting comfortably was difficult.

We also had a big bookcase in there until recently, but that went downstairs, along with an identical bookcase that was in our main hall.

That was rather a job.  I had to unload a bazillion books. Good news is that I could think about which books I really wanted to keep. I got rid of over 100 books from our bookshelves, which was a major accomplishment.

Back to the entry room:



Kevin bought plywood, painted it with some clever substance, and installed them on L brackets.  Now we have a wonderful space for our computers, and way more leg room.

We moved the old, semi decrepit computer desk into the family room one evening after the little ones were in bed.  I predicted, correctly, that they would be enthralled with it. Yes indeed, it was their own private jungle gym for several hours one morning. I finally got nervous that someone was going to fall and crack his or her head open so...

I flipped it over.  And the kids thought THAT was great too.

The desk was hauled out by strong people and now we have our family room available again.  Here, Rose and "Pikwin" (Penguin) are taking a "nap".

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Birthday and Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

              My birthday was last week. I was expecting a rather dreary day because we had sick kids (more about that later) but actually, it was a lovely day. Kevin and the children were very sweet, and I got a FitBit!  Kevin got one a few weeks ago and is finding it inspiring in getting more exercise.  I hit 10,000 steps yesterday for the first time. I don't think I'll achieve that every day, but it is a goal to strive for.  Kevin's mom came over and watched kids so we could run off and have a quick birthday dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  Their food is SO good.

  We've had an illness wending its way through the family for close to a month now.  It has been tummy problems, mostly. Well, last week Rose broke out in a horrible rash, as you can see from the picture above.  It is all the way up her arms and legs.  I thought maybe it was poison ivy since we spent the early part of the week outside in the beautiful weather.  I took her to the pediatrician and they said no, it is enterovirus or hand, foot, and mouth disease. She has a truly terrible case of it.  She was miserable, poor sweet, for a couple of days. She does seem to be on the mend now, which is great.

  No one else has gotten the horrible rash but Daniel and Joseph are both sick now.  I think everyone else is through the illness (mostly). I hope.


Oh, I forgot to show my CAKE.  Lydia made it from scratch and decorated it.  She did a fabulous job!  We discovered at the last minute that SOMEONE (a small child, no doubt) had destroyed our "7" candle, so Kevin put on the ubiquitous 29 candle.  I am, of course, not 29.  If I were 29, then I would have had Naomi when I was 13.  Which would not have been good :-). 

I am, in fact, 47.  I hope with age I am gaining wisdom. I think I am.  I pray so much for wisdom and God keeps speaking, for which I am thankful.  

As an added aside, I had my first child was I was 30.  How many women have their first child at 30 and end up with 9 kids??  We are very blessed.  Our children are truly fantastic.  I sometimes get worn out by the day to day minutiae of life, but when I really think about these kids, they blow me away.  Each is such an individual personality, each has specific traits, each has certain strengths and certain weaknesses.  We're like our own little micro civilization. That's of course true of every family, not just ours.  I am so thankful to experience this life.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glorious October

The weather has been AMAZING.

           I have mellowed in my older age, so I'm letting the kids play a lot outside right now.  Fresh air and running around are good for them, and soon winter will strike and we'll be indoors more.  
I used to be a bit crabby about October, I think because I disliked winter so much.  I like winter more now, and I LOVE fall with the colors and the cooler temperatures and the death of many bugs.  It has been a great week.

Rose adores being outside.  She particularly likes our trees!  She is a real life tree hugger.

           Our house really looks good.  I mean, it isn't fancy, but it is huge and in decent shape. We are very thankful for it.

             We're also thankful for good health.  Kevin and I were both shook up when a message came through our homeschooling group this week; a lady whom I didn't know (but whose parents are acquaintances) died in childbirth this week while giving birth to her 8th child.  It was one of those freaky complications that happens VERY rarely, but it broke our hearts.  I am SO sad for that family.  The baby lived and is fine, but now the father has 8 children to care for, most of whom are heartbroken.  And the baby is a newborn and needs lots of care.

       We are thankful we could send some funds to help them but that is just a drop in the bucket.  No one gets over something this tragic quickly.  Really, they'll find ultimate healing in heaven and not before, but I do hope the anguish will fade over time.  I pray right now that God will step in every day, every moment, to help them step forward in grieving, in living, in dealing with the funeral and finances and newborn care.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Birthday

  I will be 47 in a week or so.

  I've been thinking about mid life crises :-).  I'm about that age, I think.

  Over the last few months, I read Ecclesiastes.  It is a strange book of the Bible, probably written by King Solomon, filled with verses like this:

Ecclesiastes 1:2New International Version (NIV)
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

That's cheery!

I am not a theologian so I'm just going to mention the one big thing I "got" from Ecclesiastes this time around.

From Chapter 2:24-25

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 

  These verses follow a long diatribe about how Solomon tried to find joy and pleasure in doing "stuff" -- planting vineyards, building palaces, etc.  But ultimately, from an earthly perspective, it was all meaningless because eventually Solomon would die and everything he had accomplished on earth would be in the care of his successor. And Solomon, being gloomy, said his successor might well be  fool.  That turned out to be true, by the way -- the son who succeeded him made many poor decisions.


  The big thing for me is taking time to enjoy and take pleasure in what is going on RIGHT now in my life.

  Our culture encourages people to have goals.  Goals are good. They are.

 But being dominated by goals CAN make someone constantly look to the future and not be satisfied in the present.

  When I was younger, I was constantly looking to the future and impatiently waiting to succeed in some area.  Get an A in the class.  Finish my undergraduate degree.  Get the PhD.  Get pregnant.  Get through the pregnancy.  Have the baby sleep through the night.  Pay off the debt.  And so on.

  The problem with being so goal oriented is that I was constantly impatient and not satisfied with what was happening at that moment in my life.  Also, and this might have been more serious, there were seasons of my life (my PhD years in particular) when I put academics above relationships, which wasn't healthy.

  During this season of life, I am working to enjoy the present.  I want to take pleasure in the craziness of toddlerhood -- even though sometimes Rose's antics wear me out.  But this is a precious time in her life.

  I want to enjoy books I read for fun and walks on our "property".  I want to relish what is right around me, what is happening right now.

  I don't really have any big goals right now that involve completing a specific task or accomplishing something specific.  I want to focus more on daily work and finding meaning and pleasure in those things. I want to focus even more on relationships with my husband, children and friends.

  This means working against the voice in my head that says I am not accomplishing "enough" -- whatever enough is!  I've felt pushed to do more for as long as I can remember.  I did accomplish many things from a worldly perspective, but I constantly felt like the finish line was ahead of me and I could never quite get there.

  So for now, I'm going to try to find satisfaction in my daily toil.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

10 Blessings

I am thankful for:

1.  Our family's generally good health.
2.  Comfortable, warm, stable beds.
3.  Running water
4.  Jesus!  He should have been first but I am just writing this as they come to me.
5.  Jesus loves us so much, in spite of our sins and failures.  Thank you, Lord!
6.  Rose sleeps all night.
7.  We've figured out how to stop Sarah's nosebleeds in 10 minutes or less.
8.  Naomi has a driver's license and is a good driver.
9.  God's wisdom.  I need wisdom from Him and He gives it (James 1!)
10.  Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

These aren't the top ten blessings, necessarily.  Stream of consciousness.