Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to Back Senior Years

It seems like I have long waited for my girls to reach so many milestone:  to crawl, walk, talk, start school, drive, be on varsity sports.  But now as K enters her senior year it seems as if it has all has happened so fast.  Just where did those last 17 years goes?

This year K is looking forward to a great senior year, including varsity sports, senior trip, graduation, and a family trip to Europe.  I am so excited for her and for us.  But as I type I can't help but tear up.  I look back on all the great memories we made as she was growing up.  I remember her hiding under the bed so she wouldn't have to go to preschool and wrapping herself up in the seat belt, making it nearly impossible to get her out of the car and into the school.  I remember her crying at the dinner table when I asked her if anyone at school got in trouble today.  And she blurted out "I forgot to move my job stick and had to sit in time out."  (Note - this was in kindergarten and was the last time she got in trouble at school.) I remember her driving her best bud's little power wheels Jeep into our satellite dish.  I remember her tearing up when she had to go off to 6th grade camp. I remember her telling her friend's mom that she couldn't spend the night at the lake because she had an early dentist appointment the next morning.  (Note - that one doesn't work very well for Friday night sleepovers.) I remember her playing basketball in the driveway for hours with the old neighborhood kids.  I remember walking through the mall as she kept trying to stuff the nasty flavored Jelly Bellies in my month. I remember just about every sporting event I ever went to to watch her play and the excitement I felt as I cheered for her.  I know that her senior year will go by even faster than all of the other years.  But I look forward to every single memory and moment of this upcoming year.

I am anxious to find out what college she will go to and learn what the future holds for her.  I am not looking forward to the miles that will between her and I as, K has grown into one of my best friends.  I have decided to celebrate every moment and memory of the upcoming year with her and the whole family, instead of being teary eyed. However, she, along with her sisters and brother, will probably get more hugs this year than ever before.  My family is growing up and next year I will face yet another best friend as a senior, as H gets ready to graduate. 

I used to joke that we had H so that K would have someone to sleep in her room with her.  At first K wasn't crazy about the arrival of H.  She did wrap her in up in so many blankets,  that we suspected suffocation attempts.  Babies really don't get THAT chilly in May.  But once K warmed up to her and realized they were stuck with each other.  They were best friends and have been ever since.  H will probably miss K as much as I will.

So as I get ready to reluctantly push two birds out of the nest I think I should set some ground rules.

Rules and Reminders for leaving home:
  •  Attend a college in Michigan that is 3 hours or less away by car
  • Call frequently and update your mom on every aspect of your life
  • Attend church every Sunday!  I personally plan on going to heaven and I would like to see you there.
  • Drinking in college is over rated.
  • Be comfortable with who you are.
  • Stay healthy and active - the freshman forty can be quite nasty!
  • Do your best at everything you attempt
  • Be happy...if you are not what you need to do to get happy
  • Don't open a credit card account - if you don't have the money....don't buy it!
  • You can always come home

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Fall Football Season EVER

This is the first season of football for our family.  As a household with 4 women and G, we don't have much of a history with or a knowledge of football. But we are a family of sports enthusiasts. So we eagerly jumped right into football when G decided he wanted to play.  There are several funny but way too embarrassing stories preceding this one.  G would kill me if I shared them.  So we totally not talk about the pre-season which involved girdle shopping and cup selection.  We will skip right to the actual season or the start of practices, as his much anticipated first game is not until September 9th.

G has been practicing a little more than a week.  We have lived through his several annoying comments about how much harder football is than anything we have ever volleyball practice, basketball practice, running a marathon, having a full time job and 4 kids....blah, blah, blah, blah, get the picture.  Football is the hardest thing EVER and G is the toughest kid EVER because he is doing it. Anyway, we are on to week 2 of football the hardest thing EVER and he is sort of settling in and mellowing out.  As much as G mellows out.

Then comes distribution day.  This day was eagerly welcomed by G.  Cuz you get all your equipment and then you are officially cool.  We waited in line at the field because 5th graders go last.  The anticipation was killing all of the little guys as the big kids walked by with their equipment.  Finally it is G's turn.  The football folks have this super organized.  Each piece of equipment is at a different station and after you check in, make sure all your paperwork is turned in and sign up to work at the home game, then you go to each station, where you are given the proper fitting size equipment.  It was actually running quite smoothly.  I will skip over all the stations that we had little or no problem with. We had a bit of an issue at pants....long legs and skinny body makes it hard to get pants that fit right and hold all your hardware...but they hooked him up with something reasonable.  Shoulder pads....a bit of issue.  Apparently most football players have huge shoulders.  Hmmm! Not G.  But he got the last pair of the smallest pads which he then left at the field and are now back in the storage shed.   And we will have to do shoulder pads yet again. But that'll all work out eventually.  The biggest issue as it turns out was his helmet.

After spending the last week telling us how hard football was and that he was still doing it despite the shear agony...insinuating that he is quite would think that the boy has gotten a huge head.  Well, it turns out that he doesn't.  In fact he has a little tiny head.  So tiny that the extra small helmet is even too big.  If you look at the picture above, G is the only one without a helmet.  They have to order a littler one for him.  Yup the little tiny kid in the white shirt actually has a bigger head than G.  Hard to believe but true.  In fact all of the kids on his team have bigger heads than G.  Who would have thunk!  Anyway, he is the only kid without a helmet, as they work on ordering his.  If his head didn't feel tiny before, I am sure it does now in comparison to all the helmet heads he is running around with.  A few of the kids asked why he didn't have a helmet and G tactfully replied, "ahhh they don't have my size".  Good answer.  But I am afraid his family knows the real story and we have been unmercifully teasing poor G. 

Anyway, he will eventually get all of his equipment and will surely be quite amazing.  We are hearing that he may be a good running back.  I guess little skinny guys with tiny heads can run quite fast.  We have asked around and have learned that that is the guy who they give the ball to on offense and then you run like heck.  Unfortunately it is also the guy that everyone is wanting to tackle.  We haven't told G that part yet.  We have ordered our official "Oilers" sweatshirts, cuz G told us we would need to wear those to his games, and are looking forward to learning a lot more about football and watching G's first season as a football star.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Feral Bee Extraction

The adventure started with a voicemail.  It said, "I have bees in the walls of a house and honey is dripping onto the floor.  Someone told me you may be able to help me."  So my instincts tell me I could score some free bees here, and start up a new hive.  Although I know absolutely nothing about feral bee extraction or carpentry...this still sounds like something I wanna get involved in.  So I make a few calls to some beekeeping buddies and we decide we are up for this adventure.  I am thinking maybe I need a little more knowledge on feral bee extraction.  So I watched a video or two on YouTube. Presto! Feral Bee Extraction Pro!

In the evening after work my two beekeeping buds and I head over to where the infested house is.  We have loaded up the truck with everything we could possibly need: bee suits, hives, frames, rubber bands, shop vac, tools, smokers, blah, blah, blah, the back of the truck is packed like the Beverly Hillbillies.  This is gonna be great.  We have 3 bee keepers with like 5 years of bee keeping experience between us, tons of tools and I watched a video on YouTube. This is gonna be easy is this.

We arrive at the house.  Things seem a little trickier than the video on YouTube.  First of all the bees are entering the house up on the ridiculously pitched roof right by where the electricity enters the house.  And oh yes the electricity is live.  After a few minutes with the caretaker of the house we determine that he is indeed drunk.  You may think this is bad.  Actually it is very fortunate for us, because a sober person would have never climbed up on that roof by live electricity, in a bee suit on a 100 degree day and start ripping siding off.  But this drunk guy would and did. 

After several test drill holes in the house we find where the bees are on the interior of the house.  Actually the walls were starting to look a little like Swiss cheese.  But we weren't charging these people and the house was a dump.  It turns out the bees are right above the stair well. So all we have to do in stand in the stair well, on a ladder, in a bee suit and drill with a circular saw over head.  Sounds easy.  As Bee bud, Barry attempts this I ready the plastic boxes.  He gets into the walls and starts handing honey comb down that is loaded with bees.  I take this outside and attempt to re frame it with rubber bands.  It actually worked pretty good. (Thank you YouTube.) I framed up about 8 frames and packed them in a super (beekeeper talk for box that the frames hang from).  It seems however, that there are many many more bees than we know what to do with.  We actually are not even near the heart of their hive.

Enter Beekeeping bud Lori.  She has spent the previous day rigging her shop vac with a mesh bag on the interior.  She hands her "bee vac" into Barry who keeps sucking bees.  He then hands it to guy on the roof and he sucks more.  To wrap this story up quickly....

There are just way too many bees, like millions, and they are also way in the interior of the roof and rafters.  We can't find the queen.  And without queen all the other bees that aren't removed with just return and start over.  After about 3 hours this fun adventure is really not fun anymore...just a lot of sticky work.  So we decide to take our mesh bags of bees, globs of honey combs, and sticky shop vac and head home.

I learned a lot that night:
  • Always bring a guy to a feral bee need someone to operate the power tools and lift the heavy stuff...thank you Barry.
  • Although the Shop Vac idea seemed like a winner...death toll was high.  It may not have been from high suction though as I original may have been that it was too late and dark to 'unbag' the bees that night and they had to spend the evening in the bags.
  • Be very sure you have your bee hood completely zipped.  I did not!
  • Sitting on the ground when in a bee suit is not a good idea if the legs don't have elastic.  Bees can enter here.
  • Feral bees seem to sting with more of an intensity than my 'domesticated' bees
  • And most importantly nothing is ever free.  Oh you will pay for it one way or another. 
After a couple weeks my new feral hive is struggling.  I just got them a queen.  There are down to about a hundred or so bees but seem to be accepting the queen.  Hopefully they will have time to hatch a batch of babies and store up some honey for the winter.  In the meantime they are living off the honey comb we extracted.

I had lots of messy honey comb that couldn't be framed up.  So I left it out in tubs and my other two hives of bees cleaned it up.  It was a good help to my one hive that is growing quickly and may need to be split.

It may seem like the whole adventure was pretty gruesome.  Actually it was!  The mortality rate was super high.  But any bee that I have in the feral high, I saved from extermination.  It turns out that the caretaker of the house had to spray and bomb the bees before he could have a contractor peel the walls and ceiling back so he could remove all the honey comb.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ugh! Powder Mold!

Yesterday I was out in the garden and I noticed IT on the squash leaves.  They were beginning  to turn a slight grayish color.  It could be shadows. Right? Right! I was in denial. Then today it was was spreading even more and some leaves where almost completely discolored.  The dreaded powder mold was back.  I had it last year and thought I solved the problem.

Powder mold is a fungus that occurs from too much moisture and not enough air flow.  So last year I dropped a couple of trees  (Well, I had my people drop them. Same thing!) and I only watered in the morning for a short time.  Or at least I usually did, but a few days ago a certain person was supposed to stop over after he went to the post office and shut off the sprinkler.  But he forgot and didn't stop until 2pm.  I believe his carelessness could have caused serious garden ramifications....FUNGUS! His absentmindedness coupled with the recent rain, infected my poor garden.  Only I could get moisture related garden mold while the rest of the state is experiencing a drought! (And about that absentminded guy on his way to the post office.  I will give him another chance.  Probably several more chances to redeem himself.  Because actually, he is the most awesome helper Dad ever.  Even if he did almost kill my garden.)

Anyway, it seems that the cure for this problem is apparently more least initially.  You mix a Tablespoon of Murphy's Oil Soap, A Tablespoon of baking soda and a gallon of water in your garden sprayer and then spray your plants.  The Internet directions said to spray the tops and bottoms of all the leaves.  I thought I can do that.  Sounds easy!  Then I read on and it said it is best to do this at night.  Seriously?!  I really think someone is just messing with me on that one.  But I mixed up the recipe in the sprayer, grabbed the flashlight and headed out to the garden.  And I began spraying.  I learned a few things while spraying:
  • I hate mold.  All kinds of mold.  I hate it when it coats your cheese.  I hate it when it gets on your bread.  I hate it when you find it in the leftovers you almost just finished eating and I especially hate it in my garden.
  • You have a lot of time to think while you are alone in the garden, in the dark, by yourself.
  • There are more mosquitoes out when you have both hands full.
  • Nobody needs 4 zucchini plants & 4 yellow squash plants...not even the Duggars...what was I thinking?
  • My cat has a sick sense of humor. I swear I heard the cat laugh when it brushed up against me and I jumped a mile.
  • You can't walk between pumpkin plants in August.  There is seriously no place to step.
  • Gardening is the dark is not fun.
  • Pajamas are not the best gardening attire.