Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wrapping UP

Here it is the last day of January already and I've neglected my blog again. It's kind of been my pattern for about a year now and I know someday I'll regret it. I'll look back and wonder why I didn't write down some of what's going on in my life - even if it's not much. So I'll resolve to change all that from now on.

And I'll start by reviewing January. We had a lot of birthdays and I did manage to observe those at least but I didn't do well with You Capture having only participated once. Starting right now though I resolve not to miss another one.

I think I might have a mild case of that depression you can get when the days are short and the weather prospects offer nothing but snow and cold. This month, though, we've been pleasantly surprised. We had a snow or two but they didn't last. And since the last one it's been amazingly warm. In fact, right now it's 54 degrees outside.

When it it did snow a couple of weeks ago, I rather eagerly got out my bird feeder and filled it with the most expensive seeds - guaranteed to attract the most colorful birds. But unfortunately it attracted more pesky squirrels than colorful birds.

(I wrote about this same problem and how we handled it with a Hav-a-Hart trap last year here and here. We went on to catch quite a few of them and it really seemed to make a difference but last Fall I started to see more of them around again.)

So I watched the squirrels chase away any birds that happened on their private habitat and I watched all their friends and relatives join them. I watched them swing on the bird feeder and generally make a mess of everything. They even knocked down some of the little statues we have out there in their efforts to push off them and leap to the bird feeder.

I pretty much became a bird feeder nazi. When I saw those dang things out there, I would open the door and shout at them and sometimes even walk toward them in an effort to startle the brazen little rodents. Mostly they ignored me so a couple of times I even threw stones at them. I thought if just once I hit one, I'd feel better.

(Years ago I'd thrown a sizable rock at a squirrel in a tree in front of the house and I hit the limb he was standing on. The impact knocked the squirrel out of the tree and he landed on the ground and starting flipping and flopping all over the place. Finally he flopped onto the front steps and died. At least it looked like he did. We wouldn't even walk near him so we had to come into the house through the back door and watched in wonder through the window as he came back to life, stretched, and scampered off. Squirrels are very durable little creatures.)

Anyway, this shows you that my aim isn't very good but my intentions were pure evil toward those nasty little buggers. This winter then, we hadn't set out the trap but we were having an increasingly serious problem with the squirrels. One day I was happy to see five cardinals all around the feeder. Then they disappeared to be replaced by a squirrel. I stepped quietly out the door, picked up a rock, took careful aim, and I nailed it!!! Not the squirrel - my bird feeder. It broke and scattered all the seeds all over the ground and the squirrel and his friends AND relatives had a party while they laughed at the crazy woman who'd served the fabulous snacks.

Mr. Right patiently bought me another feeder and I pondered what to do about those stinking squirrels. I considered setting food out just for them so they wouldn't hang on the feeder but I was pretty sure the population explosion we were experiencing would be small potatoes compared to the one we'd have if we deliberately fed them. And I looked at squirrel deterrents but none seemed like they'd work with our pole and the one that was most interesting and looked the most effective cost $89. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten that but we had just gotten this brand new feeder.

Yesterday I was on the treadmill for 45 minutes and for each and every one of those minutes a squirrel dangled from the bird feeder. That did it. I set the trap and within an hour I'd caught the first one. Twenty four hours later, I've trapped five of them. And I've driven them to a wildlife refuge and a state park both of which are over ten miles away. That's why I should have just spent $89 for a squirrel resistant feeder except that they'd still hang around on the ground and scare the birds away. So that's that for the squirrels - for now. But I'm pretty sure there are only about three more to capture. We'll see.

Also this month I did another course of chemo cream on my basal cell skin cancer. I finished the course, saw the plastic surgeon, and was told to come back on the 15th of March for another assessment. I'm a little unnerved because as the days go by post-treatment, my nose looks redder and more blistered than it did right after I finished. I'm also experiencing a lot of weird sensations and irritations. I'm not sure what all that indicates but I guess I'll find out in March.

I also remembered that I haven't finished my Christmas Story series. I'll do that very shortly just as soon as I get a letter that is an integral part of the story. Which leads to another life changer for the past month. This is the month that I got completely addicted to Words With Friends. I blame that completely on Alec Baldwin and the news breaking trouble he caused because he wouldn't quit playing on an airline tarmac one day. I can totally see that happening to me. It's that addicting and just the fact that I don't understand why they'll only let you play twenty games at a time proves it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jenna Corinne 'Through the Years'

Today is Jenna's 11th birthday. She is our tenth grandchild and our fourth granddaughter.

Here is pictorial Jenna 'through the years'.

Jenna is a beautiful, loving, smart, and very helpful girl. She's a friend to anybody that needs a friend and a sensitive and loving child. No one could ask for a sweeter granddaughter!

So, Jenna, happy birthday! I hope your day has been awesome and that your birthday weekend will be even more awesome. We can't wait to see you!!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Anna Helen Through The Years

Today is Anna's 9th birthday. Even before she was born, when she was barely a twinkle in her mother's eye, we celebrated her coming.

Here's pictorial Anna 'Through The Years'.

Anna is a smart, loving, and sweet girl. She's talented, quirky, fun-loving, creative and one of the most perfect granddaughters anyone could ask for.

So Happy Birthday, Anna. We hope you

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Noah Daniel Through The Years

Yesterday was Noah's 8th birthday. Now for five days, he and Anna are both 8 years old.

Last night after shoveling snow at 11:30 p.m., I remembered. I hadn't done Noah's birthday post. I didn't forget his birthday. In fact I was acutely aware of it all day as I stressed out about the weather and whether or not it was going to allow me to get to Beth's to help out during the party. So I baked and worried and shoveled snow - but I didn't do Noah's post.

I could write it off as getting old and forgetful but I think the real reason is that I'm struggling with this year's birthday format. I just haven't been able to put it together in a fun and interesting way and therefore I'm not excited about it. Next year it's back to birthday interviews but for this year I'll be trying to refine my 'through the years' birthday posts until they become more to my liking.

Here's pictorial Noah through the years.

Noah is one of the best grandchildren anyone could ever hope for. He's loving, kind, and thoughtful. He's a good student, a good brother, and a good sport. We're very proud of you Noah and we hope your birthday was stellar! (We've already heard that your Lego party was.)

Happy Birthday to a wonderful boy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 2

The second important phase of our great big, week-long Christmas party is the gift giving and receiving.

Part 1 of this phase is pretty conventional. We do a gift exchange where everyone draws names except Mr. Right and I. On Christmas shopping day, the children open their gifts from this exchange before our big outing to ensure that they don't duplicate these gifts later in the day.

This picture didn't get everybody in but it gives you an idea of the atmosphere and the sheer numbers. I don't think there's anything much more fun than watching kids open presents. Oh, except maybe watching them pick them out.

They also open their one wrapped gift from us which is always a garment that is to be worn in the group pictures. This year I visited Columbia.com and purchased 38 jackets ranging in size from mens 4X to baby girls 6 mos.

Here's how those pictures turned out.

The kids


After the present opening, we all packed up and headed for Valparaiso to have lunch at the Industrial Revolution. Picking up the tab for these 37 people is one of our gifts to the kids - pretty easy shopping right there.

We went here last year too and it was very enjoyable mainly because of the ambiance and the train that periodically runs around the entire restaurant at ceiling level. This year, however, neither the atmosphere nor the train could make up for the giant 'failboat' in service and food quality. From the time the first meal was served until the last one arrived was one solid hour. I realize we're a large group but if they couldn't handle it, they should not have taken the reservation.

After the very long lunch, we headed to Target where all the kids did their own Christmas shopping. We gave them a price limit of between $25 and $30 and they pick out the present or presents that they want. It all goes into our shopping carts and the kids won't see their gifts again until the presentation back at the house.

The next order of the day is the bribe. Nobody gets the gift that they picked out until we get the family picture. The cooperation level is incredible.

Beth started setting it up with assistance from Dan. She started with one.

And then children (and young adults) were strategically added.

Even the younger ones were patient and attentive.

Almost ready!

Add game faces and insert babies.

Finally, insert oldest granddaughter and sweet, young mother. And there you have it!

Now the gift presentation. An adult, usually Uncle Dan if he's not deployed, holds up an item at random and announces what it is. The owner claims it to applause and appreciation for his or her great choice.

And while we shopped, Harry and I grabbed a couple of the necessities that keep the Christmas House running smoothly all week.

This was a long post loaded with pictures but I wanted to share the experience. And most of all I wanted to remember it. I wanted to remember my pride in these beautiful children - how patient and fair and sharing and loving to one another they are. How from the oldest to the youngest everybody interacts.

And I wanted to share the fun. The week in the Christmas house is a joyous one and I hope this shows some of the reasons why.

But most of all I don't want to forget one facet of the week so I'm writing it all down. And I hope everybody that reads this will enjoy it as much as me.