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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Challenges and Triumphs

I keep thinking of myself as a modern pioneer in our new adventure. It makes the challenges seem more adventurous and conquerable. What do I see as a challenge?

Here's "The big one": BUGS.

Our house exterior is not sealed well. Or at all. I've discovered that pesticide doesn't make a big difference if you have cracks providing a personal invitation to any bug that wanders by. We also discovered to our chagrin that much of the 'landscaping' that had been done by the previous owner merely created the IDEAL breeding ground for scorpions. I'm not exaggerating. We've delcared an all-out war. Luckily no one has been stung yet and we've only found 4 of them actually in our house....but still.
I. Hate. Scorpions.

I keep finding spiders in places- even though I've thouroughly cleaned, scrubbed, pesticided, disinfected, etc. I can't figure out where they are coming from. It's very frustrating. We've adopted several new family rules in light of our unwelcome guests. We don't let any bedding touch the floor and we don't use bed skirts any more. I can just imagine creepy-crawlies hiding under the bed, hidden from view by blankets hanging down. Now we make beds with hospital-corners tightly tucked away. All the furniture is kept several inches away from the walls so I can easily check behind them for webs or bugs. Everything is elevated off the ground, so there's no hiding places left. I'm much more meticulous on cleaning now, which I suppose is a blessing in disguise. :)

We adopted a cat last week. Several neighbors have told us that indoor cats help with the bug problems in the country. It's an orange kitten named Saffron. He fits right into our family- we love cooking and we adore Indian food. It's a perfect fit. I was very hopeful that his hunter-instincts would help  him chase little bugs. As an experiment I rolled a live rolly-poly bug (wood louse) towards him last night. When the little ball touched his paw, Saffron leaped away in fright and shook his paws in disgust as if he'd just been contaminated. Bother. He might not be much of a help in our war. At least he's cute and the children love him.

Blast- the library computer I'm using says I'm out of computer time. I'll have to finish this article next time. Coming soon: some triumphs of our experience!


I love waking up and looking out my new bedroom windows. It looks like I've slept in the middle of a beautiful park. The tree branches wave in the wind and birds break into song all around me. It creates within me the most deeply peaceful feeling. I'm really enjoying many parts of our new life.

I love watching my chickens scratch for food under the sprawling oak trees. My kids spent an entire afternoon digging a 100-foot long trench in our pasture. They were so excited to show me their project. They could never play like that in a suburban backyard. They play hard every day and come inside covered in dirt. I think it's a sign of a good day when they get to explore and be creative in the outdoors.

Yesterday Nathan and the boys built a new ladder for the treehouse. The boys would run inside on errands to fetch measuring tape, nails, a protractor, etc. They'd overflow with enthusiasism as they gave me periodic updates on their progress. My heart is happy- this is such better family time than watching TV.

Did I mention earlier that we have no TV or even a DVD player? There's no internet access at our new house- it's not available yet in our neck of the woods. It has been an interesting change in our lives. We've played board games together as a family multiple times each day. There's more music being made in our home. We work on projects together. Everyone reads more books and uses imagination to create grand schemes.

Our quality of life has drastically improved, even though I was already very sparing in the past with screen-time. It's interesting to see what we do with our time without any access to any computers or TV. Overall I really love this change- although sometimes I do wish I could let them play an educational computer game while I take a nap. We haven't hooked up any computers yet. I go to the library to do any computer-related work now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A week with an angel

I was feeling overwelmed and getting burned out last week. I can't imagine how my sweet husband felt; he's been carrying much more of the weight around here since my pregnancy limits my activity so much.

One night I was crying and praying to the Lord for more strength. I asked that if I couldn't be blessed with more physical strength, would He please send someone to help me. Cue our angel here. Nathan's mother came to stay with us for a week and help with the move. I didn't expect the Lord to answer my prayer in such a perfectly delightful way. I'm amazed at how generously He answered my selfish plea.

I wish you could meet my mother-in-law. She's always serving the people around her and blessing them with her unfailingly cheerful demeanor. I feel so incredibly blessed to have her optimisitic spirit as my companion when I was so exhausted and spiritually drained.

She swooped into our lives for a whirlwind of work. She single-handedly painted three huge rooms in our home, transforming our dingy grey walls into a bright and welcoming atmosphere. She worked ceaselessly to load and unload the moving truck with Nathan. Twice. She scrubbed out nasty closets and bathrooms, cleaned ceaselessy and ran long errands for me. The only time she sat down was for quick meals, then she'd whisk herself away to work some more. She even would tiptoe to my bedroom door and close it in the mornings so I could sleep undisturbed after the children awoke each morning.

Even though she worked nonstop each day, she'd still take time to play with her granchildren every evening. No matter how tired she was, she'd read several pop-up books to my kids at bedtime. She was so patient and loving with them all the time. She even rubbed my swollen feet and ankles for 30 minutes one night. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and I learned so much from her example.

I had been selfishly focusing on my own discomforts and fatigue for so long. I'm sure she was more tired and sore than me each day, but she never complained or said anything unkind to anyone. I felt very humbled as the Spirit gently reprooved me for my recent poor attitude.

I feel like she bouyed our entire family. I feel like she rescued me when I was floundering. She is amazing and I'm so thankful to be a part of her family.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spider tamer

We have a lot of spiders residing in our new home. Really. I've never seen so many spiders in such a short period of time. I've also never seen such big spiders (tarantualas excluded). The legs on some of these span 5 or 6 inches! Imagine THAT living in your cabinets or closets! Yikees.

I used to be terrified of spiders. I'd run away squealing when I saw one. Now I'm thankfully desensitized.

I've been smashing every arachnid I find. I should have kept count how many have met a sudden demise in my home. I found over 25 in just one closet.

I think they are disgusting, but Daniel loves them. He loves all animals- even fire ants. He saw me killing spiders one day and was appalled at my apparant cruelty.

He scooped up a large spider (the legs were each 3 inches long) and cradled it in his hands to protect it from the ravages of my broom. The spider scamperd all over Daniel- crawling up his head and around his face. Daniel was delighted and giggled like it was the funnest game ever invented. I couldnt' believe my eyes.

Daniel played with this spider for a long time like it was a pet. I don't tell him when I'm going to kill spiders anymore.

Friday, June 3, 2011

One step forward, Two steps back

I'm thankful for the lessons the Lord has been giving me. I feel thankful and cheerful even though we're taking a couple steps back in our progress.

This weekend we are working on the new house. We made so much progress! Nathan filled in the dog door that was permanently built into the side of the house. He patched all the broken drywall in the house. We scrubbed more rooms and prepped for painting. I scrubbed out bathroom cabinets and the master closet- which was full of spiders and dog poop stains. How does that get there?

Nathan and the children spent a sweltering day on the roof, ripping out the rotted roofing and replacing it. The children thought it was a grand adventure being on the roof among the oak branches and birds.

Nathan took off a wall in the master bathroom and we discovered crumbling drywall damaged from water. The tub tile doesn't have any wall to hold onto anymore. Nathan experimentally tapped a tile and it literally disappeared backwards into the wall space. Yikes. It looks like we have an non-functioning bathroom and it will be a huge project fixing this one. We'll have to remove another entire wall in the master room so we can replace the damaged drywall. Then we get to learn how to re-tile a bathroom.

Strangely, I didn't feel panicked or depressed over this new discovery. I thought to myself: "The pioneers bathed out of rivers or buckets of water- when they were lucky enough to have access to water. I can handle not having the luxury of using the bathtub/shower. At least I have running water! Thank goodness!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Matt's writings

I wanted to share a snippet of Matthew's writing journal. I think it's interesting to read how his mind thinks and what he chooses to record.

This first entry was written immediately after we returned home from a grueling road trip for my sister's wedding. I was surprised what came to his mind for this writing assignment. I can't decide if this should be a commentary on the vacation or on his boredom in the public school system.

Acrostic Poem about Vacation:
Very boring
At a gas station
Can't play on the compyooter (computer)
A very boring thing
To Grandma's house
I do not like vacations
Oh how boring
Not very fun

These remaining entries are various journal entries. I thought they were cute and wanted to record them. His spelling is preserved in my transcribing, but I added parenthetical clarification where necessary.

Wut I did on the weekend. I went to my Grandma's hows (house). I went to a easter egg hunt. Everyon got 12 eggs. I got jelly beens and skitls (Skittles)and manemse (M&Ms). The candy was yumy. My favrite was the skitls.

I went to my Ant's weding. My grandma and grandpa came to the weding. We tuk pickters. I wus in two pickturs.

I went to the swiming pole. I put on my gogls (goggles). I hopt in the water. It wus frezinge (freezing). I raced my sister. She won. I had lunch there. For lunch I had a apl (apple) and a sanwich and a joos (juice) box. My dad came too. I had fun.