Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nighttime Nastiness

Crickets, folks. We have them...lots of them...downstairs. They only come out at night, after the sun has left the sky - and at that time, I avoid those basement rooms as much as I possibly, possibly can. I've realized that almost anything can wait until tomorrow morning if it involves stepping downstairs.

I don't really like bugs in general, but these crickets are in another league. They are called camel crickets and, not only are they extremely ugly, they have some seriously nasty quirks. Most bugs will run from you if you get too close - they scatter into the shadows, or hide behind the closest piece of furniture. But not these crickets. Oh, they seem to try to jump into the shadows but, you see, they're rather uncoordinated. If I get to close, they actually jump towards me - and bounce off - and jump sideways - and land upside down - - - it's disgusting. And I've seen them jump at least 4 feet high. I was reading online about them, and some people have seen these gross crickets jump so high that they actually hit the ceiling! I have had more than my fair share of unwanted encounters...the worst being when I reach down to grab something and one jumps into my palm - and bounces off - and jumps sideways - and lands upside down - - - ewwwww!

Well, I was brave tonight. I hadn't quite finished all of my laundry by sunset, and I decided to venture down there to change out the last load. Of course, I was very on edge - scanning the whole area before placing my foot close to any potential cricket-home. It was quiet, and I was almost there when I looked down and saw this:

Sorry about the bad picture - I was still downstairs, after sunset, so I just wanted to snap a picture and get out of there! This bug is about 4 inches long - FYI.

I screamed. I couldn't help it! And then, when I realized it was plastic, I kicked it across the room. I don't know who thought it was a good idea to give my son a package of bugs that looks so real that it elicits a genuine scream from his mother - but I suspect a 'Grandma Package' had something to do with it.

So, Jean, I just want you to know that I blame you for my near heart-attack tonight. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Uncontrollable Air

For weeks and weeks and weeks - even months - I have been working effortlessly and unsuccessfully at helping McKenzie stick to her manners when it comes to belching. I don't so much mind if she lets a big one go in the house among family, or even very close friends, but she truly has a gift in being able to summon up a burp at almost any inconvenient time. I have been embarrassed at supermarkets, restaurants, guest's houses, church meetings and libraries. After the latest embarrassment scene at Chick-Fil-A a little while ago, I started being really tough on her: not allowing loud burps anywhere...even in our home, until she could learn to control it.

So while we were finishing our bedtime routine a few nights ago, when she literally bent in half to help force the air through her vocal chords at a faster speed, I lost my cool a little. "MCKENZIE!" I exclaimed, "How many times have I told you NOT TO BURP LIKE THAT? If you feel a burp coming, try to make it as quiet as possible...not as loud as possible!" Very frustrated, I told her to go turn the light off and that we would only be singing one song for bedtime.

She did as she was told and then climbed up into the rocking chair that Carson and I were already sitting in. She settled in, Carson was still wiggling around, and I started to sing their favorite song Goodnight my Angel. Well, I didn't get two words into it before Carson's little elbow dug right into my stomach causing me to sound something like this: "Goodnight mwaaaaAAAAAAAAAA" No, no...not a scream...a burp. A loud, long, completely unexpected burp.

This was funny on two levels: number one, I am not a belcher - at all. I very, very, very rarely have air in my stomach, so my children have probably never really heard me burp like that before - I don't remember the last time I have heard me burp like that! I even have this weird issue with my esophagus that makes the mere physical act of burping a little challenging (and, I know what you're all thinking...but it doesn't come out the other way either...)! And, number two, it couldn't have been 60 seconds since I had bawled McKenzie out for doing the exact same thing!

We laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed in the dark that night. Serious, throw the head back, laughing. I couldn't get through the song, McKenzie literally had tears streaming down her face from laughing so hard, and Carson kept saying, "Mommy, why you go: MWAAAAAAA?" Making us laugh harder and harder and harder.

Oh, the joys of motherhood! I guess everyone needs a little uncontrollable burping every once in a while - expecially if it leads to so much uncontrollable laughter!

Friday, January 23, 2009

!nuf os - yad sdrawkcaB

Today has been a FANTASTIC day! It being backwards day, and all. What? You haven't heard of it? Well, the news spread all over Mrs. Ingolds 4 year old preschool class - and they all showed up wearing their clothes backwards for 'B' week. McKenzie has been talking about 'backwards day' for weeks now - and when she woke up this morning to see her mother wearing her hooded sweater backwards, it was all she could do to finish her breakfast before getting dressed in her own wacky outfit. She was tickled that Carson was participating, too.

Such simple wonders that create perfect days!
And, yes, it did just snow three days ago - yet, here we are, completely comfortable in our long sleeves and no jackets. :) It was so beautiful today that we played outside all afternoon instead of having nap time and quiet time. Isn't North Carolina awesome?!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Snowing! (And I'm not squinting this time...)

Yep - it's snowing in North Carolina. Love it...LOVE it! Well, I guess it's not actually snowing...but it did snow. All through the early morning hours and into the afternoon leaving us with a grand total of: an inch or so. Yes, you can still see my grass poking through the snow - but I must mention that my grass is quite long. :) The kids and I played all morning and I realized something sort of depressing - after 4 and a half years here, I've become quite a wimp when it comes to cold air and especially wind. I noticed that I was the one saying, "I'm cold. Do you guys want to go inside now?" I tried to make it sound as enticing as possible with some, "into the nice, warm house" and some "how does some hot cocoa sound?!" and more "wouldn't it be fun to curl up in a nice warm blanket and read a bunch of stories?" But they would not be deterred. Especially McKenzie. Of course, she was the one who had snow pants and good gloves. :)

We used cookie sheets as sleds and our ditch as a hill. There wasn't quite enough snow to make a good snowman...plus, the snow was pretty dry. I wish I'd have gotten some more pictures, but I guess we were just having too much fun!

And, I swear, hot cocoa never tastes as good as it does when the mug brings back feeling to my numb fingers, and the steam warms my frozen nose.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who knew?

I think I really love plants. You know, the living, breathing, eating, drinking type - those interesting creatures that actually take some care to keep alive and some thought to keep happy. It's funny, because I never thought I liked plants - too much work, too little benefit, and they always die. But, just today, I was sitting on the couch updating my budget spreadsheets when I looked up at my peace-lily that a friend gave to me and I thought, "You know, that's very pretty." Then, I looked at my interestingly lopsided poinsettia (which only looks good from one direction) and I thought, "You know, that's beautiful, too." And, when I looked at my pretty little pink roses flourishing in an awesome looking green vase, I realized - I think I really love plants.

I also have another peace-lily that lives in my living room...and, just today, I realized how proud I am of myself for keeping these four plants alive for so long! (Okay, so the roses are dying - but that's to be expected.) I don't know how long poinsettias are supposed to live, and I can't figure out how to make my peace-lilys actually produce their white flowers, but they're alive...and they're green...and they're beautiful. My peace-lily in the living room has had quite an eventful life, too - sunburn, frost-bite, drowning...but in the three years it's been under my care, it has never actually died. (I thought it had a time or two...)

It's a little overwhelming at this point to think of starting a flower garden - too many other things to do first (like...rake all my leaves...or move all of my bushes...). But, perhaps I will start appreciating plant life a little more. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I think I'm on to Something!

I live in an old house. A wonderful house...but, it's old. And, unfortunately, it smells old. Now, I am exceptionally sensitive to smells and it was always the very first thing I noticed when we were house hunting. Step over the threshold, inhale, and I could immediately tell you whether or not it would be worth seeing the rest of the house. I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped into this 38 year old house and my nose remained uncrinkled as I sniffed away. In fact, I smelled nothing. "Great!" I thought.

Having passed the smell test, and the other few requirements on our list, we bought it and moved in during a beautiful time of year here in North Carolina where neither air conditioning or heating was needed. But, as it started getting warmer and warmer and hotter and hotter, we finally flipped on the air conditioning and, oh dear, what an unpleasant smell came through those vents. Old House Smell. I tried to ignore it for a while - hoping it would just air itself out - but it didn't. I tried to mask it with air freshiners and Febreze, and that totally worked! for an hour or so.

I mentioned my frustrations to a few ladies one morning after we'd been living with the smell for over 5 months, and one of them asked, "When was the last time you changed the air filters?"

Uh, what's an air filter?

Obviously that hadn't been done in the recent past. After getting briefed a little on Home Ownership 101, I made my way to Home Depot with a little speck of shining hope fluttering around in my heart. Was this finally going to get rid of the smell? In the filter isle I came across not only air filters, but a seemingly gold finding - VENT filters! These rectangular shaped filters are designed to slide right into your floor (or ceiling) vents to block out all the old dust being blown through your air ducts. Score! I loaded my cart with the goods and spent the rest of the afternoon 'filtering' my house.

It definitely made a difference - however - I still wasn't quite satisfied. The smell was better, but not gone. Plus the filters are kind of thick - and after a ridiculously high electric bill this last month (we're talking $150 MORE than normal), I couldn't help but wonder if the air wasn't getting through the thick fabric very efficiently. And, since we obviously don't have a very efficient heating system to begin with, I figured we should probably give it all the help we could. So, out went the vent filters.

But now, what do I do about that old house/dead rat smell?

A few days ago, I went to Costco and picked up a bunch of stuff: bread, milk, dryer sheets... and as I opened my trunk to unload all of my goods, the smell of the dryer sheets was almost overwhelming (in a good way). I took them down to the laundry room and plunked them down on top of the dryer...where they stayed until today. I walked into the laundry room today and, again, the smell of dryer sheets was very noticeable and I thought, "Gee, those things sure are potent. ... Wait a minute...."

So, into the vents they went! I taped them to the inside of many vents - and today my house smells like 'fresh linen'. Much more pleasant than dead rat.

I only hope that the smell stays for at least a week...it only takes about 15 minutes to do it all, but doing it more than once a week could get tedious.

Do any of you have any suggestions about how to make an old house smell new?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Day to go Down in History

I find it fascinating how easily a mother's life revolves around her children. Sometimes I go through phases where I try to reconnect with my pre-mothering self, or try to reground my personality in just myself and God - but I realize, time and time again, that a little piece of my heart is in each child...and their beautiful personalities are woven through and through my own so much that it's impossible to separate one from another. I believe that my emotions will always revolve around their lives and their happiness - and how wonderful that, in this breath of time, my whole life is physically revolving around them, too.

Maybe that's why I was so thrilled when I felt my baby move for the first time tonight. I just love thinking about her cute little hands, and her cute little feet, and the masses and masses of hair she will have when she's born, and those long, dark eyelashes, and that beautiful, beautiful face....... No, we don't know if it's a boy or a girl, but McKenzie and I are rooting for a girl and since I write this blog, I get to impose my wishes on it. :) And, if the baby is anything like McKenzie, she won't have any real hair until well past her first birthday...but again, my blog. It's been so fun to cheer for a girl with McKenzie - she's kind of in this 'girl power' phase, and I guess I'm feeding into it a little bit. (I just hope she won't be too disappointed if the results come back in favor of a boy.)

What a great ray of light for me tonight, feeling that little nudge. I put on my favorite pair of pants this morning and sighed when I realized that, no matter how hard I pulled, tucked, squeezed or yanked, that blasted button was not going to make it. So, I got out the elastic band to hold it together and felt a little twinge of defeat as I succumbed to my fate for the next few months. I lathered concealer all over my face and, still, those little red blotches shined right through like they were the star of the party (sadly, even in Beautimus...I've made a point to not look in Wretchimus for the next long while). I try not to let my physical appearance dictate my mood for the day...but sometimes it does - so it was great to feel a little nudge of encouragement from my little one, to help me remember exactly why I'm doing this. :)