Friday, August 22, 2008

Bugs and Packing Peanuts

The only thing these two things really have in common is that I wanted to write about them both today and didn't want to do two separate posts. On the rare occasion that I've blogged twice in one day, I'll talk to someone later who missed the first one because they didn't scroll down after reading the second post which appears at the top. So you get a twofer today. (And why isn't the word "twofer" showing up as a spelling error? Is that a real word?)

Probably about 12 or so years ago I ordered some stuff and it came with really fun packing peanuts. If they get wet, they stick together. Ever since then, when we get something with packing peanuts I hope they are that same kind, but it's never happened again. Until yesterday. We got a package and I opened it and was more excited about the packing peanuts than what was in the package. (Well, it was just oats in the package anyway. Not real exciting.) The kids loved them, too. I knew they would. Claire was quite proud of her creations and took a picture:

And here's a picture of Clark with his creation. Later he found a couple of sunglass lenses in the bottom of the dress up stuff basket and added them. They were pretty cool. ;-)


Now on to bugs. Since we've moved out here, occasionally I'll see bugs that I've never seen before. Maybe they are common, but I've not noticed them before. There's one that's really alien looking (as if all other bugs aren't) but I've never taken a picture of it. It moves really fast. But this one didn't move all day. I don't know if it's dead or what. It's about 5/8" long. Anyone want to tell me what it is? I haven't tried looking it up yet.

Melissa

Monday, August 18, 2008

Adopted

Mitchell, Faith and Grace are three-fourths of a band called Adopted. They now have a song on their My Space page so if you want to hear them, check it out! Mitchell wrote this.

Proud parents,
Roger and Melissa

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hot is relative

When we first moved to Texas almost 14 years ago, it was November. We moved from Missouri where it was already getting pretty chilly. In Texas, it was only getting down to the 50's which seemed warm to me. We dressed in long sleeves, but skipped jackets. My children were all small then: almost 5, almost 3, and 5 mos. I didn't think they needed coats either and we would go out and do stuff without coats. I remember it didn't really occur to me that we should wear coats because it seemed warm to me. But boy did I get some dirty looks! I was amazed at all the people wearing coats, and apparently they were amazed that I would take my children out in that temp without a jacket.

Well, things have changed. This morning it got down in the 70's and my silly kids wanted their jackets! I had to clean jackets up off the floor today! In August!

Melissa

Spider Pics

I got out of bed late this morning, but I was ready to work. I knew I still had some spiders to clean up. As I headed toward the kitchen I heard Roger say something like, "Well, look at that!" and he was staring into a rather boring kitchen cabinet.


In the pic, do you see the spot toward the top on the left? Here's a close up of it.
I think it's either a male or an immature Western Black Widow. But then, I never was any good at identifying things in biology class. It's one of the larger specimens of what we've found inside the house.

My trusty vacuum (mine is also a Dyson, Mary) has been working hard. I make sure to suck up a little Diatomaceous Earth after cleaning it out. My reason for that is that I want to be sure the little buggers are dead in there before I empty it out again.

Anyway, yesterday I thought I was almost done with the main part of the house when I realized I hadn't done the dining room chairs. Then last night Ezra was playing on the floor in the living room when I realized I never did the train table. And sure enough, there were spiders in both of those places.

Thankfully they are not an aggressive type of spider. I read a bunch about them last night and found that most of what we've observed fits with what we were reading. They stay in their web. The web is very messy looking, one webpage compared it to cotton candy. I was pleased to read that the egg sacs start out round and white and then turn tan and oval as the spiders inside them grow. One spider may lay 5 sacs at a time. That all made me feel better because we were finding groupings of 5 round white sacs. They looked empty and I thought that meant we had lots of babies all over, too. But after reading that, I inspected them closer (with the help of my camera's zoom feature and the zoom on the computer--I'm not getting that close if I can help it!) and could see that there are indeed little things in there. So the fact that they are still round and white tells me it was fairly early in the gestation of them and I didn't miss my chance.

So we bought this poison. I noticed on the package it says it's effective against spiders except for brown recluse and black widow. And now I'm reading that the best way to get rid of them is to do exactly what I'm doing--only I should be wearing gloves. I'll finish this job one of these days. It's rather slow going because even in places where there are no spiders, I don't know that until I check them. Once I'm done with the vacuuming, I will probably still spray the insecticide just to keep away the black widows' dinner.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my beautiful pictures. Funny, this may be a scary spider, but it's not the scariest looking.

Melissa

Thursday, August 14, 2008

War in our house

We can't help it. It's in our blood. Isn't that a valid excuse?

Throughout history there are stories of conquerors who take territory away from the innocent, killing to create a new home for themselves. It happened in Bible times. It happened all through Asia and Europe. It happened in Australia and Africa. It happened in the Americas. Maybe only Antarctica is safe. It's happening today in several parts of the world.

And it's happening right here in my house. We wanted a new place to live so we came here to this section of our pasture and built a house. The critters who lived here before us had to go. Some of them just quietly left and found a new place to live. Others resisted and the battle is continuing.

They keep trying to reclaim this space, but I am not giving up.

I've spent the week cleaning all those little nooks and crannies you never really think about. Being an unfinished house, we have lots of them. I normally would do this every 3-4 months, but that would have come during my post-partum healing phase. Then for some reason we didn't take as many school breaks as usual so I didn't really get a chance to do my big cleaning last time. The little spiders and bugs thought that they could move back in to this space. But I'm not giving up so easily. I called for reinforcements.

I had Roger pick up some insecticide. We haven't used insecticide since we fumigated the last house. It had sat vacant for 3 years or so and lots of critters had moved in. It's not that bad in this house--not nearly as bad as that house was/is.

We're not seeing a lot of bugs other than the flying kind (moths and such) when we turn the lights on and open the windows at night (we have screens, but they still get in when we open doors or whatever). We've had a couple of occasions where the ants get in, but we clean up whatever it was they found and they go away. It really hasn't seemed to be that big of a problem. But I wanted to clean up the dust that had accumulated. There were a few cobwebs, too. I went to vacuum them up and they wouldn't come off the table I was cleaning. It was just a small end table, so I flipped it over to get to the source of the cobwebs better.

Underneath this small table were several black widows. I vacuumed them up and moved on to the next piece of furniture. Almost all of our furniture was covered with spiderwebs and spiders and egg sacs underneath! I can't figure out how they were all surviving! We really don't have that many bugs for them to eat!

Thankfully they weren't feasting on us because I'm pretty sure most of these spiders were black widows. Many of them were too small to see what they were, but there were several large ones that were identifiable and the small ones had the same shape.

So the house is getting thoroughly cleaned and then I will spray it. I don't like to spray, but this is war and I will win. We will also continue our nightly prayer asking God to keep us safe from spiders, snakes, scorpions, ticks, ants, bees, wasps, . . .

Melissa

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fun Time Waster

My sister sent me a link to How Many Of Me. We had a lot of fun with it. We all have fairly common names. We were checking everyone in the family. We got to Ezra and found there are only 17 Ezra Nelsons in the US. But then someone pointed out his first name is actually Thomas. Boy did that make a difference! There are over 3000 Thomas Nelsons!!

We checked lots of other names, too. Thank God there is only 1 Barack Obama. It says there are 1,307 George Washingtons. Mitchell pointed out that means there are 2,614 cruel parents.

I've always known my mother is one of a kind and this confirmed it. She's better than 1 in a million. According to this webpage she's 1 in 304,838,315!! I love you, Mom.

Got some time to kill? Go check it out. Just be careful not to waste too much time there. I did. ;-)

Melissa, one of 704,177
or one of 1,141 in the US with the same last name

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our New Ducks

June 19th we got our ducklings. They'd hatched the 17th I believe.


Now they're all grown up, well the survivors are. There are 8 of them.


This is my favorite part of our farm right now. Ducklings and chicks are all cute when babies, but ducks are still so beautiful when grown.

Melissa

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Baby Bottles

I've been blessed to be able to nurse all my babies. I've tried occasionally to pump and let someone give them a bottle when I couldn't be home, but they've all hated the bottle.

This summer, with temps in the 100s fairly regularly, I decided Ezra should get the option of having water. As thirsty as we all get, there's no way I could keep up with nursing just for thirst. I didn't know if Ezra would like having a bottle since none of his siblings ever did. But just to prove that we are all unique, Ezra loves his bottle.

Grace was holding him and standing at the bar with the bottle right in front of them. She couldn't see his face and had no idea how badly he wanted that bottle. I laughed for a little while, then went to get the camera and was still able to get the shot. He was quite focused on his desire. :-)

Friday, August 08, 2008

I love Home Depot

Today I called Home Depot about my range. I explained that I'd try to call them a month ago and no one called back as I was promised. I'd then tried to go through GE and got no where. I explained the whole thing about needing new pans and not wanting to get new pans because I love my stainless steel.

Lucinda at the Abilene Home Depot is wonderful. She understood my problem. She has a smooth cooktop and stainless steel pans and said she has her water boil over all the time. And she would not be happy if she had to give up her pans either. She talked to the manager and explained my situation. They agreed to let me exchange my electric stove for a gas stove without paying the re-stocking fee. Hallelujah!

This means more work for Roger as he'll have to get propane to the house. He knows what to do though. And then we'll hire a plumber to help out, too. Or at least he'll check up on Roger's work. I think that's the plan anyway.

Roger's foot has been hurting him for the last month. Please pray that this work doesn't do more damage to it. We believe it is a stress fracture and needs time to heal. (City folks that move to the country have to learn things the hard way--like never use your foot as a tool when working on the tractor.) That healing time didn't start until we figured it out and he began to really let it rest. I had to threaten him that if he wouldn't stay off it, I'd pray that God would keep him off his feet. The last time I had to do this he was cleaning the yard with a temp of 101. I prayed. He woke up the next day with a sore foot and couldn't walk until 3 weeks later when he was all better.

Anyway, the gas stove is ordered and when it comes in we can return the electric one that requires certain pans. Hurray!!

Melissa

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yep, It's the Pans

Our appliance repair guy came by today with a couple of pots he'd just bought to test our stove. Mine were stainless steel which was recommended in the book that came with our stove. The stove is a GE Profile smooth top stove. It's not a cooktop, it's the whole range and it was highly rated everywhere we looked it up.

After trying all the pots, it seems that GE didn't know what to recommend. For example, they said heavyweight aluminum pans were recommended. But the lightweight aluminum pan that Elmer brought over worked and the heavyweight pan didn't. So his theory was that the shininess of my pots was reflecting the heat back down to the burners causing it to cycle off to avoid overheating.

It was seeming as if only aluminum would work. I won't use aluminum pans. And I will absolutely never spend money on nonstick stuff again. I love my pots and pans. I am feeling really frustrated that they won't work. They are good pans.

We have one small enamel pot that worked. I only have it for if someone wants a cup of tea. It's tiny. We never cook on tiny things.

The enamel pots I'm finding in a quick search on the net are nonstick. I don't want that. I have kids that cook and clean and those pots won't hold up to that. So I have to decide now if I go to pots I hate and pay money for them, or TRY to take the stove back and pay a restocking fee. We're talking almost $400 here!

What really gets me is that I KNEW the make of the pots and pans mattered. I saw that in all our research before buying. It said that stainless steel was recommended. I thought our pots would be okay and they aren't. They lied, but will I ever get anywhere with that fight? Doubtful.

To top it all off, we wanted gas, but didn't want to wait for Roger to be able to get gas hooked up at our house. I bet he'd have gotten that done by now and I'd have gotten to keep my good pots and pans. Too late now, but maybe someone can learn from our loss.

Oh, and several people commented either here or in person that maybe it is the electrical connection or something since we had refrigerator and freezer problems, too. That was the first thing checked. It was checked more than once. It's not the problem.

Melissa

I might need new pans?!

The repairman came out after I called to see if he'd gotten the part for our stove yet. He replaced the control panel and still it's the same. We can get it up to 207*F when on High. That almost looks like a boil, but we put a handful of macaroni in it and the noodles just got mushy after about 1/2 an hour.

So he said he'd come back and talk to GE while he was here and see what they wanted him to do. Before he had a chance to come back though, he talked to GE about another issue for another customer and asked about my problem while he was on the phone. They told him I need new pans.

In the manual that came with the stove it said that stainless steel pans are recommended. I have stainless steel pans. But supposedly sometimes the pan absorbs the heat and it doesn't get to the stuff inside the pan.

Does this make sense to anyone? Not me!! If the pan is getting hot, shouldn't the stuff inside it also get hot?

Anyway, our repair man is going to bring over some of his pans and see if they work. If they do, it is then my responsibility to go buy new pans. Nevermind that I already have the kind they recommend. If his pans don't work, I don't know what we do next.

I also got to deal with an issue with our cell phones today. Our bill was about twice what it should be. Thankfully not all big companies are as difficult to deal with as GE. AT&T has been wonderful to me for 8 years now. Every time we've had a problem, they take care of it. They were even willing to credit some overage charges that they didn't need to credit! I was honest and said, no, we need to pay that. I'm just tellin' ya this so you don't think I'm just always complaining. Not all companies are awful, just GE so far. But I have a teensy bit of hope left that they will do the right thing and eventually I'll have a stove that works.

And thank you to Kim, my friend who brought me a crock pot cookbook. I'm learning to love my crock pot. Without it we might never get to eat around here!

Melissa

Friday, August 01, 2008

Still No Stove!

We bought a new range over a month ago. It didn't work right. We called GE and they sent a repair man who said it was good enough for him. I then spent a couple days on the phone arguing with GE about this. They sent a second repair man who agreed with me. A stove should get hot enough to cook on it. He ordered parts.

We're still waiting.

I need ideas for meals I can feed my family. I can cook on the stove, but nothing that requires a lot of heat. I can't boil noodles. Anything that requires a boil ends up mush. It's too hot to turn on the oven. I made beans in the crockpot yesterday and today I'm cooking some pork chops in the crockpot. We can do baked potatoes in the electric roaster. I can brown meat, but forget spaghetti or anything that requires noodles with it. I really like one dish meals because it serves onto plates a lot faster. We can't spend a lot and we don't use a lot of packaged items--usually if it comes in a box it's too processed for us and/or has ingredients we can't eat.

So give me some ideas? I'm kind of stuck mentally. I keep thinking of things like soup, spaghetti, pasta salad, and other pasta favorites. I can't even steam our veggies, just sort of slow cook them until they're mushy enough to call them done.

I'd love to just order out until it's fixed and then send GE the bill. Too bad they wouldn't pay it, huh? And then I could send them the doctor bill from all the unhealthiness that would result int he family from that. I wish I knew when this will end! It's hard enough to plan meals for a large family. Now I have to throw in the added complication of only low-medium heat on the stove!

I understand that things are built to last anymore. But a stove that isn't built to cook? It didn't work in the first place and they don't even care. Whatever happened to pride in your workmanship?

Melissa