Monday, August 25, 2014

Snapshots: The Weekend

Nearly 90 degrees at home.

90-degrees at home = lunch at Costco.

Breakfast date.  Not quite alone.

Walmart with this funny kid.  :)

 Beating the heat.  Backyard pool.

 Grocery date with the Abster.

 What we saw at HEB.

Cleaning up after AC repairs.

All seven.  Almost all smiling.

Self-proclaimed Confederate.  Complete with Rebel Yell.

Haircuts for four.


Yesterday was Claude's birthday.

We celebrated with a special breakfast (a surprise even to the kids) and coffee made by Hannah.

What's a birthday without a banner?

Or some cheesecake?

Happy Birthday, Claude!  Thank you for being a dedicated husband and father, and for setting an example for our little crew of Christ-like sacrifice and service.
We love you!

Yesterday was also our wedding anniversary.

It is a privilege to be journeying through this crazy adventure with such an honorable man.  Here's to 9 years and counting!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Tale of Two (or more) Lizards

I am not a fan of lizards.  Something about them just makes my skin crawl.  But living here in Texas means that there are lizards galore.  We have long, sleek anoles that come out and sunbathe during the day and bumpy, little geckos that perch themselves on the windows and eat bugs through the night.

Last summer we had a gecko who came to our bathroom window every night.  I couldn't handle it.  So, after a few months and it having ample opportunity to become big and fat, I decided to open and close the window a few times to shake it off.  I shook it off, alright.  And I think I killed it or at least mortally wounded it in the process.

This is the baby gecko who came to stake out the awesome bug-catching spot from where his ancestor, just a few nights before, had been driven out.  We only saw this guy one time.  I was not the one to encourage its departure.

Claude made me feel bad.

Okay, I felt bad all on my own.

I had lived my entire freshman year of college with a lizard at large in my shower.  Did I feel differently about lizards way back then?  No, I did not.  They creeped me out like they do now.  The difference was that I was willing to pretend that this little lizard did not exist.  The lighting was dim in the shower and without my glasses I couldn't see well.

Ignorance is bliss, right?

Well, at least it meant protection for the small bug-eater.

Consequently, I never gave a thought as to what food source this lizard might have had which supported it for a year.  Ewww....

I've often thought of this juxtaposition of responses.  In one case, most recently, I had had enough of the creepy, crawly gecko and tried to stamp it out.  But long ago, before being a mother had tested my patience, I let another lizard go.  It wasn't hurting me.  It didn't do anything wrong.  It was better to pretend that it wasn't there and let it live then to try and snuff out its life.

How often do I respond with such grace to my children?  Those little habits they have - ones that aren't harmful to themselves or anyone else and are simply annoying by the sheer fact that I can't get away from them...ever.  Oh, and I can't forget about my own sin that makes these habits seem so frustrating - selfishness!  I have preferences, 'ya know.  And sometimes I prefer not to have five people whistling and singing at me all at once.  Sometimes I prefer quiet.

What do I do with those preferences?  Do I insist on having things my way and squashing my kids in the process like I injured the innocent gecko on our bathroom window?  Or do I take my glasses off, turn down the lights, and let them go about the business of being kids?

I have resolved to do my best at tolerating both the lizards and my children's idiosyncrasies.

On the kid end, my resolve is tested daily.  I don't often succeed, but I think I'm heading in the right direction.  Thank You, Lord!

But things on the lizard front have been slow because we haven't had as many lizards this year.  Over the past week, however, my lizard tolerance has been tested.  Hannah found a baby gecko in our music area last week.  It scurried under the piano pedals and we didn't find it.  For several days it didn't show up.

After a handful of days we caught a glimpse of the gecko and just as quickly as it hid under the piano, it ran into the grating around our fire place.

I would be lying if I said that I wasn't on high lizard alert by this time.

Late last week I came into the house after Bible study and found Claude standing over a clear plastic container, a tiny lizard inside - its tail wriggling outside.  Can you see why I can't handle these things?  He had spotted it on the windowsill in the kitchen, stunned it with some bleach just to slow it down so that he could catch it, and he set it loose in the front yard.

We had caught the lizard at large.  Or so we thought.

Less than an hour ago, after a lovely nap, I walked into the kitchen to find another baby lizard.  I sprayed it, caught it, and set it loose out front.  Was it the same lizard from last week?  The one that we assumed made its way from the fire place to the kitchen, hid all day, and only came out after bed time?

I don't think so. This guy had a full-length tail.  I know they grow back and all, but in just a few days?  I have my doubts.

My thought is that our gecko family has come back, somewhere in or very near our kitchen.  And they are abounding in offspring.  Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  ;)

This leaves me with a couple of questions, however.  Where is the musical lizard?  And where are these baby lizards coming from?

Maybe it's better if I just close my eyes and sing a happy song.  Ignorance is bliss, right???

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lumberjack Hack

Note: I keep trying to take pictures on our camera and every time I get a message that there is insufficient space on the memory card.  So, in an act of frustration I deleted every photo on the card.  I thought I had copied the existing photos onto our computer.  I hadn't.  There were lovely photos to accompany this post to show that the branch really was quite large and the tools I used really were not meant for cutting wood.  You'll have to take my word for it, because as much as this experience connected me to my rugged Montana roots and made me feel like a lumberjack, I will not be repeating this if I can help it.  Next time I may take my own advice and borrow a chainsaw.

About a week ago we had a fairly intense storm come through.  Claude and I heard the thunder and rain one night and didn't think much of it.  It's summer.  There are storms like this often enough.

The following morning, our early riser (Joshua), ran into our bedroom shouting, "The storm last night blew a huge tree branch into our yard!"

Being one prone to exaggeration and drama, we didn't think much of it.  So, when he insisted we come out to see it, we were pretty surprised to find this in our back yard.

[Insert photo of REALLY big tree branch here]

Yes, half of our neighbor's dead tree fell into our yard.  There wasn't much to do about it right then and there, so we assumed that we would just take care of it when Claude was feeling better from his surgery.  I suggested we ask a few friends if they might have a chainsaw we could borrow.  This was a suggestion that I really should have followed, but didn't.  Oh, well...

Fast forward about a week and I was ready to deal with this thing.  I needed to mow the back yard and the branches sticking out in my way absolutely had to go.  That day.  It really couldn't wait.

So, I started breaking off twigs and small branches.  That lead to realizing that if I started taking off some I might as well cut a few of the bigger limbs off.

I went in search of some tools and found this.

[Insert photo of hacksaw here]

I thought it would do the trick, so I started sawing.  And sawing.  And sawing.  For at least two hours, and I'm not even making that up.

Then I ran into some thick branches that I just couldn't hack (pun intended), so I went back to the garage to find something else that might work.

This is what I found.

[Insert photo of axe here]

In my ignorance I was calling it a pick axe.  Apparently it is called a pick mattock, made for hoeing.  Yes, it is designed for the ground.  No, it is not meant for chopping wood.  It is not sharp.  I used it anyway.  The tree had to go.

So, I began chopping and chopping and chopping.  I chopped for at least two hours, and I'm not making that up either.

I developed a rhythm of 30 swings with the "axe", take a breather, repeat 4 times.  Then I would get the saw out and saw 100 times.  Then it was back to the "axe" and so forth, until I had successfully cut through 3 very thick branches.

Then my work was done.  I had reduced the half-tree to this pile of twigs and branches.

[Insert picture of giant stick pile here]

I had sweated through three different shirts, drank four 32-ounce bottles of water, and acquired a good many ant bites.  Now I had to move the tree carnage into a neat pile so that I could mow.  Remember, I was doing this so that I could mow.

5:00pm, approximately 6 1/2 hours after I had begun - of course, I did take breaks because children were in the house and needed me, but still, my time working on the tree was about 5 hours at this point.  Now, enter the neighbor.

"I'm so sorry about that tree.  I saw that it went down so I tried to reach over the fence and pull it back, but it was too heavy," he explained apologetically.

"Yes, I can imagine you wouldn't be able to lift it.  It is very heavy," I replied.  I would know, I just dragged half of the half about a quarter of the length of our yard.

"I thought of trying to do something about it, but both of my chainsaws are broken," he continued.

"Yes, that could be a problem.  I just did this with a hacksaw," I'm not sure if he saw the "axe" and the saw on the ground, but they were there in all their glory.

And so he continued to tell me his name and all about his teenage daughter who is learning how to drive and how concerned he is about her having an accident.  When he had successfully changed the subject he offered for me to throw some of the debris into his yard so that he could at least help throw it away.  I didn't think that would be necessary, and so he left with a promise to take down the other half of the tree, which was hanging into our yard, and off of which I had already cut the biggest, lowest hanging branch earlier that afternoon.

He cut his part of the tree down on Saturday.  I saw him working out there and heard his chainsaw.  It seemed to take him about 15 minutes.

But he missed out on a really good, total body workout.  And I do mean really good.  My little fitness app on the iPad gave this update Tuesday night:  "Rebecca burned 1,268 calories doing 155 minutes of cardio exercises, including 'chopping wood'".  I think it could have been a higher calorie burn, since I only recorded two hours of work on the tree and just over 30 minutes of mowing.  You better believe I enjoyed a big bowl of ice cream that evening!

As I told this story to my Bible study later in the week one person said, "Hey, we have a chainsaw you could've borrowed."  My sore abs ached as I laughed.