Mowing for Dummies

I don’t as a rule (read “hardly ever”) perform the necessary chore of mowing our yard. In the summertime, we hire a very reasonably priced yard service to mow and edge the yard once every two weeks. Jay fills in on the off week. Given we own about a 1/4 acre of oddly shaped yard on a corner lot, it is a decent-sized job but I didn’t have quite enough respect for the task until today.

Jay has been very sick for the better part of a week now, so he has not had the energy to attend regular work most days, let alone consider the idea of mowing in this heat. Then our faithful mowing service for whatever reason picked this past Tuesday to not show up, for probably the first time ever. So we’re looking at over two week’s growth of grass in our yard and this morning I decided something had to be done. Since my brother is in town I got him to help me start the ornery mower and then I was on my own.

I learned many things during my two hour job; if you are also new to the world of mowing, maybe some of these lessons will be of help to you:

1. A mower may likely run out of gas during a large job. Repeated sputtering, hesitation to start, and ongoing stalling while moving might all be hints that you need to refill that tank.
2. Oil is a good idea, especially if the mower has not been started in over 6 months.
3. If you are not bagging your clippings, the mower will get bogged down in high grass. Take measures to dump out or shake out excess grass which accumulates under the blades. This can also be accomplished by a reverse motion now and again during the mowing process.
4. Drink lots of water. Don’t underestimate the intensity of the mowing workout and its propensity to deprive you of liquids. I think I sweated off about 10 pounds of my body’s water. I certainly felt drained when I was done.
5. It is HARD to start the mower’s engine while the mower is resting on the grass. Move to the sidewalk or driveway to give yourself a better chance of success.
6. WEAR WORK GLOVES when mowing for any extended period of time. I have blisters all over my poor hands.
7. Don’t try to cut the yard to a drastically low height when dealing with tall grass. You will stall repeatedly and become very frustrated. So will your mower.
8. If your husband or some other beloved individual usually takes care of the time-consuming and exhausting (at least in Texas heat!) task of mowing your yard, don’t forget to hug their neck and tell them how much you appreciate it!! And make sure to fix them a cool, refreshing drink when they are finished!

By way of postscript, the children were so good while I completed the mowing job. They stayed indoors, watched their movie, kept themselves out of trouble (yes, yes, I checked on them regularly) and as a special treat, were rewarded with an afternoon of splashing in our wading pool instead of having to take naps. Two and a half hours of hard playing ensured that they were exhausted by the time 7pm rolled around, so while they sleep, Jay and I are enjoying an in house date night! Later!

Baby Makeover

Little Nicolas is almost two and as he’s been sporting a headful of white blonde curls for awhile, we decided it was time for a bigger boy haircut. Today was the day. We went to our usual kid haircut place, complete with Blues Clues videos for watching and firetrucks and other vehicles/animals for children to sit in/upon while being “shorn”. Our “baby” aged incredibly in the space of about 10 minutes but we think he looks very handsome with his new ‘do! Here are the before and after pictures. And thanks very much to the Pecks and Clemmons for helping entertain our other children while they waited!
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Guinea Pig Foster Care

Our son Jonathan, is the one among our children whom we consider to be our most “needy” in terms of time, attention, etc. Along with his neediness do come certain sweetnesses though. One of these is his extreme tenderheartedness toward animals. He gravitates toward them, even if he doesn’t know them at all, whereas he cannot often be coaxed to even look at people when he first meets them because he is so shy.

Given Jonathan’s love for animals, I jumped at the announcement his teacher sent out to her students’ families before school ended: she was looking for someone who might want to take the two class guinea pigs home for the summer. We happily agreed to this responsibility and today we brought home Wiglet and Precious. They are sisters, and are absolutely adorable.

My heart goes out to the poor wee animals for I fear that even though they are used to the sights and sounds of two and three years olds, that this transition has been traumatic for them. Being hoisted up and down stairs, in and out of cars, and from room to room as we look for the perfect place to keep them has to be annoying. And then there’s the little curly blonde-headed giant who stands outside their cage, giggling and calling, “Hi Piggies!” (that would be Nicolas). Not to mention the rather dumb-looking hairy creature who peers at them curiously, whimpering nonstop as if to say, “Aw guys, please come out and play with me!” (that would be Sid, and NO! we won’t let them play with him!).

We are excited about our newest guests and look forward to enjoying their company these next couple months. And maybe sometime soon, if we can coax them out of their shyness, we’ll take a photo and post it here for your viewing enjoyment!

Training Young Children

For those interested, I am working on a catechism of sorts, borrowing heavily from the Catechism for Young Children as well as my brother. Here’s what I have so far: Training Young Children.

It is meant to be printed double-sided then folded in half to form a booklet.

What’s in a Name?

Jay and I had a conversation with Abigail yesterday morning that made us giggle. By way of explanation, although most of you who know me call me “Tricia”, my given name is “Patricia”, and it’s what I went by almost exclusively until around age 12.

Abigail: Mommy, what was your name when you were a little girl?

Tricia: The same as it is now.

A: But what was your name?

T: Most people called me “Patricia”.

A: Daddy, what was your name when you were a little boy?

Jay: You know what my name is, Abigail.

A: Oh. So when you were a very little boy, your name was “PaJay”.

Are there no editors at the AP?

I am undone. The AP is currently running a story regarding the horrid beheading of a young American man. It is a personal, warm account of the remembrances of his various friends and relatives. So far so good.

So how did any self-respecting news organization let the following headline run against the story? Friends, Family Remember Beheading Victim

Perhaps in the future when folks are reading this entry in our archives, they will click through to the story a discover someone has modified the ghastly headline. One can only hope.

Watch your step

I have begun the arduous task of revamping House of Horne… the only thing more arduous would be to attempt a flash-cut to the new look. Instead, I’m opting for the slow roll, so expect a host of dead links for the next few days.

Tricia versus the spider redux

IMG_3515_small.jpgThose faithful readers who have been with us for awhile may recall an entry from 2002 in which we recounted Tricia’s chance meeting with a rather nasty spider while attempting to take dominion of the nursery laundry pile. Today while cleaning pots for this summer’s herb garden, she came across another spider. This is the way she tells her story:

As I brushed some accumulated dirt off of one of the pots I saw a rather large black spider clinging to the side of the pot. Its legs looked pretty shrivelled up but given its body size I figured I’d better be careful, especially since Abigail was right there with me. “I’m pretty sure this spider is dead, Abigail. What do you think?” I asked her. “Hmmmm…I don’t know Mommy, it looks alive to me.” After making sure she was far away from the spider and warning her not to touch it I got a plastic sandwich bag, donned my gardening gloves and proceeded to trap the spider inside said bag.

IMG_3516_small.jpgWhile we wanted to finish potting our herbs, we decided that we would first try to find a picture of our spider on the internet. The spider was black everywhere except for a red marking on its underside, so in an effort to identify my mystery spider I typed:

“black spider red dot”.

Imagine my consternation when the first search result on google looked like this:

Black Widow Spider Pictures
… Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus … The female black widow is shiny black with a red hourglass on abdomen … The red hourglass could take the form of a red dot or many … www.surviveoutdoors.com/reference/ spiders/black_widow.asp

The picture on that web site confirmed that we were not dealing with an average little garden spider. Upon further inspection of “my” spider’s red dot, I surmised that it was indeed in the shape of an hourglass. Oh, my. And I had just had my bare hands all over that pot, within easy reach of this venomous spider. Not to mention that Abigail had been nearby the entire time as well. Feeling thankful that we were both fine, I called Jay to tell him how I’d bravely apprehended the little creature, and when he arrived home a couple hours later he felt compelled to capture our Black Widow on film. Now we can share her loveliness with all of you, dear, gentle readers. And may I assure you that I will be more careful next time I see a black spider!