Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year! (2009)

Here it is! The "Christmas Letter" meant to go out at the beginning of 2009.

Due to technical difficulties...for the ENTIRE year...its distribution was delayed.  But, here it is, ready for you to view in two parts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

For the Curious

We finally got a TXU electric bill. For 5 1/2 months of service, they billed us all at once for $1200. Yowch! But, they sent us a letter saying that they understood it would be "unexpected" and they'd offer a billing plan. So, they divided it out for us and we'll have it all settled soon.

Still no clue what the glitch was, but they did have meter readings for our house for all the months we've been here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Armored Protection

If you're reading this for the first time, please be sure to read the prior entry first, entitled, The Wild Outdoors.

Now, you have to know that we had been waiting for this house for such a long time. We saved our money for years and on top of the anticipation and excitement, the months of contract and construction were the longest and hardest 7 months of our lives due to the stresses of moving into a small apartment coupled with William's sudden illness. I say this because this was a dream realized for us and almost nothing could have changed our mind about living here. We set ourselves up for domestic bliss. We arranged for our good friends and neighbors from our old house to build the house next door to ours. We put a gate between our houses in the back yard so that our kids can play freely together. Everything was just as we'd planned it. William's treatments had become routine and his health was stable. Life was settling in to the dream we'd envisioned.

A few days after we closed, the movers had just dropped off our things and we were quite literally living out of boxes. Some were cut open, but nothing was actually unpacked yet. As I stood there meeting a new neighbor, I found myself breathing quickly and panic setting in. There on the sidewalk, just days after our household possessions were delivered I was planning our move - the move OUT of our dream house. Thankfully, the packing would be easy, just some new rolls of tape to reseal everything. We hadn't turned in the keys to the apartment yet, so we could probably just go back there until we found something else. What is it? What could have possibly sparked this little panic-driven break from reality?

Some of you may remember a little incident I had at the age of 16. To sum up, I was living on a tropical island, had the flu and was sleeping day and night on the couch in our furnished rental house. It was after 5 or 6 days that a GIANT spider crawled onto my hand as I tucked a sheet between the cushions, followed by another spider, and another. These spiders, called Donkey Spiders, ranged in size from 4-6 inches in diameter. Anyway, the short version is they were nesting in the couch. The couch I had been sleeping on for a week. ACK! Naturally, I have a pretty intense fear of spiders after that. I still have a physical, panic reaction when faced with a spider, even a relatively small one (all spiders are relatively small after the things that crawled out on me!) though I am improving. Nonetheless, there is one thing I fear more than spiders - that is, scorpions.

My dear new neighbor was just letting me know about the little problem the neighborhood was having with scorpions. I'd encountered a scorpion before on that same tropical island and it was there that I learned that scorpions have a very hard "shell" that protects them from any sprays or killing methods you could attempt from a distance and the only way to really rid yourself of one is to pulverize it with a shoe or other heavy object and it is therefore is rather impervious to the general exterminators tricks. And now you see where my problem lies. We've just moved into a house where the wildlife seems to have issues with my territorial boundaries and one of them is my archenemy.

I returned to my beautiful, new house, stacked high with boxes, and tried to push these irrational thoughts of moving back into apartment life out of my head. I didn't want to leave. I am higher on the food chain and pay a mortgage on this property!! I get dibs on calling this place home. So, again research on removing pests ensued. I completely irrationally thought that having a cat to contain the problem wouldn't be so bad. Millions of people have cats, how bad could it be? But, as I found out, cats won't kill scorpions and we thankfully avoided becoming cat people. Dogs may alert you of the evil intruder, but aren't good killers either and someone has to squash the thing even if Fido sniffs it out.

I called the exterminator the very next day to alert him that every possible avenue for ridding our 1/4 acre of scorpions was to be followed. But he knows the truth, scorpions are pretty impervious and the best we could hope for is to keep them OUTSIDE and to kill their food source.

It was 3 months before we saw our first scorpion. He was outside (thank God!) and Doug easily squished him under the weight of his shoe. Another week passed and we spotted another in the same location. The real miracle was that I did not panic, have a heart attack or call the moving company when we found them.

And do you know what? God provides for our every need. Behind our house are some old rail road tracks piled with stones and in those stones lives a creature I so greatly admire. Around dusk our track dwellers come out, burrow under our fence and make their way around our yard. Some may call them pests themselves, but I call them heroes. I love the look of a thoroughly rooted-through and "aerated" (read: burrowed) flower bed. It's so, so...scorpion-free. You see, Doug saw our little, heroic friend on security duty the other night and carefully averted his path.

Thank you, thank you, my Knight in Shining Armor

Learn more about these fantastic little heros here: Real American Hero
(For the record, yes, I'd rather have leprosy than scorpions.)

The Wild Outdoors

I'm not a particularly outdoorsy type person. I appreciate wildlife where it belongs - "out there" or behind the glass and bars of the zoo. :-) Even so, I was pleased to find a harmless and beautiful bird nesting in the trees behind our house. He's a wild red cardinal and we first saw him the week we closed on the house. Actually, we heard him before we saw him. It wasn't his beautiful song that we heard first, but the sound of his very hard beak banging into the glass of our living room's upper windows as he flung himself into them time after time after time. He was there day after day at all times and we bought a bird feeder and gave him a name, Bonkers. It was endearing at first. Surely he'd figure out that his flight path had been obstructed by brick and glass and he'd find a new path around the house in a few days. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the windows in the living room, but also the one in our master bedroom. He favored it at dawn...while we were sleeping. We chuckled the first few mornings, groaned the next few and then got downright irritated after that. A little research told us that cardinals are extremely territorial and he was attacking his reflection in the window. He wasn't looking for a direct path to the front of our house; Bonkers has a bit of a rage problem. Still, he's pretty and "out there" so I didn't want any harm to come to him. We tried a few different things, but they failed. Doug's next move was a BB gun, but I had one more idea. I went to the store to find a cheap rubber snake for the window ledge. The summer, creepy-crawly season was over though and there was only one option left in the toy section. A 12-inch long blue cobra, ready to strike. Doug laughed when he saw it. I ever so gingerly, trying to avoid pulling out the ladder to reach the ledge, flung it granny style up to the ledge. I'm pretty unskilled at flinging rubber snakes, even as grannies go, so it took a few tries until it finally landed on the ledge - belly-up, its open mouth craned awkwardly upside down, but the next morning we slept peacefully. Bonkers had encountered an intruder to his territory worse than his own reflection. It's been a couple of weeks since the blue, rubber cobra saved our sleep and as snakes go, the blue, rubber kind is definitely my favorite. Not only is it "out there," but there is absolutely no risk of it coming "in here."

This was SO not the reason I started this post, but I got off on my own little tangent, so I've retitled and you'll have to read the subsequent posts to get the scoop on what's really happening with the wildlife around our house.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Good Weekend

We had a good weekend!

On Friday, William had his infusion so we spent the day relaxing in the doctors office and eating treats. During that time, William read his first complete book. It is called Big Egg by Molly Coxe. It's an amusing tale about an egg too large to be the hen's, so she carts it around the farm asking if it belongs to the other animals. "Is it a cat egg?" says Hen. "No," says Cat. and so on. When she approaches the fox, he is more than happy to take the egg and it cracks open to find the fox standing there with knife and fork. I won't spoil the end for you. :-) William has continued to read it over the weekend and has subsequently memorized it. Now that he can read, we'll be making many trips to the Easy Reader shelves at the library so he isn't stuck with memorized books.

Friday night we wore our PJs to the church for family movie night and enjoyed popcorn and Finding Nemo. It was a great gathering and I adored the devotional they passed out to the parents to bring God's truth home from the movie. Nemo would stop at nothing to find his son to be with him and God did no less, even sending his Son to die for us so he could be with us forever.

Saturday morning I made pancakes and we attempted the devotional with the kids. Next time we won't serve the sugar first and then try to keep their attention. ;-)

Saturday evening we went to the wedding of Doug's cousin James and his new bride, Amber. James is Doug's second, double cousin (Doug's grandmother's sister married Doug's grandfather's brother, who were James' grandparents). We visited with the extended family and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.

Sunday morning came a bit too early, but we made it to church on time and then celebrated Doug's grandfather's 93rd birthday with lunch, cake and ice cream. Afterward, we visited with Doug's uncle, John, who was in town for the birthday celebration.

I went to bed at 6:30 on Sunday evening, even before the kids were in bed, and slept until 7:30 this morning. Ahhhh. I finally felt rested for the first time in a very long time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not My Job

We moved into our house at the end of March. Naturally, we had all of the utilities connected or transfered from the builder to us.

Due to some "glitch" TXU has not charged us for any of the electricity we have used since we moved in. I have gotten mail from them in our name and I have an account number. When I call, they verify my name, address, account number, etc, but for some reason we aren't receiving bills. Not only that, when I called the first time, fearing we were headed toward disconnect, I was told my account balance was $0. I was assured, in June, that our next meter reading would be June 22 and surely I would receive a bill then. Naturally, by mid-July it was time to check on things again. So, I got a "brilliant" young girl on the phone who verified my info by read-ing ev-er-y syll-a-ble of the script she was given. She told me my account balance ($0), the date of my next meter reading (July 22), and that I should receive a bill at the end of the month. I mentioned that I was told that in June, but it didn't seem to bother her. Perhaps I could do a little trouble shooting for her...do you have an initial reading? The most recent reading is June 21, but no bill was prepared from that reading.

I don't mind getting free electricity, but eventually these months are going to catch up to us. Our brave girl, tells me it will be no matter, as they have payment options and we can work out something if we can't pay the whole amount, if and when a bill ever arrives. "Is that all?" she asked? I suppose so. I do feel a bit foolish alerting the electric company of their mistake and our great fortune, but I assume that eventually someone will decide it is their job to make sure they get paid for services provided. Until then, I'll keep calling and keeping records and adopt their attitude. It's not my job to make sure I get a bill.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bye Bye Mr. Sun

Adios amigo! It's time for you to hide...and not just long enough to let the clouds drip their humidity down to our level and then reappear to warm up the sauna.

It's time for fall again.