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Growing up in the Dallas area as a kid, we always had at least one or two ice storms each year.  Usually, they came on the weekends, but occasionally, we got a free pass out of school for the day.  While schools shut down, business generally carried on as normal.  The entire city was not brought to it’s knees for a light sheeting of ice on the roads.  Usually, everything just started a couple hours behind schedule.

Fast forward a few years, and move a few hours south, and we have a completely different situation on our hands.  These ice storms might happen once every two or three years.  When they do, the whole world shuts down.  

So, in honor of today’s world stoppage brought to our little corner of Texas, I thought I’d illuminate (for the rest of the world) why we Texans have such a hard time with ice and snow.

1. We just don’t see it very often.

For many of us here in central Texas, it has been years since we have seen that magical white stuff fall from the sky.  It brings back memories of childhood hope and wonder…and deprivation.  No child who grew up in Texas (panhandle region excluded, of course) ever got to play in the snow 2 years in a row (unless their family went skiing for Christmas every year).  When someone walks into a crowded room and says, it’s snowing outside, you can bet that everyone (no matter their age) is going to excitedly jump up and run outside to see…invariably running over at least 3 other people and leaving their jackets behind.  Should you happen to drive by at that very moment, you will see a bunch of grown people standing outside in shorts and flip flops (because they didn’t watch the weather report this morning…it was 70 degrees at 8 am) shivering and staring up at the sky in wide-eyed wonder.

Often, the mere suggestion of freezing weather is enough to make adults in Texas do rather silly things.  I once had a roommate (from South Texas) who, upon confirmation that the air temperature was below freezing, would climb the tree in the front yard with the sprinkler to “make snow”.  Of course, he knew better, but he just couldn’t help himself…he had to try!

2. We don’t know how to deal with it.

In this part of Texas (west Texas and the panhandle are excluded from today’s tirade), snow days and ice events are really rare.  So, we just don’t know how to deal with them.  We’re pretty sure that we have an ice scraper for our windshield somewhere, but we haven’t seen it since the last time we had to buy a new one 3 years ago (when we couldn’t find the previous new one we’d bought 3 years before that).  

So, we’re left with with a couple options:

  1. Pour water over the windshield to thaw the ice.  Whatever you may have been told, this is a terrible idea.  Don’t do it!  If you get the water too warm, it can break the glass.  Too cold, and it just makes the problem worse.
  2. Run the defroster in the car until you either:
    • Run out of gas and can’t go where you needed to anyway.
    • The ice gets thin enough to scrape it off with a credit card (be sure to call the bank tomorrow morning to get a replacement card for the one you bent trying to scrape before the ice was thin enough).

That’s all before we actually get in the car!  I won’t even discuss what happens once we get behind the wheel!  We Texans can be a pretty independent lot, but ice just isn’t our thing.  We’ll still get the job done, though, no matter how many cars we have to smash in the process!

3. Our community leaders are paranoid.

School administrators and business leaders would rather cancel everything ahead of an ice storm than watch the rest of us play “smash-em-up” on the highway.  I have to admit, however, that I’m still amazed that they feel the need to cancel life more than 48 hours before an anticipated storm.  The weatherman hasn’t even decided yet if it’s actually going to happen.  But, you can bet that the school closure reports will already be rolling in!  Perhaps they’re worried that if it snows and they haven’t given enough notice that someone will round up a posse and make them personally dump sand on all the bridges.

There have been occasions where all the school systems in the area have cancelled classes two days ahead of time, only to have no significant weather actually materialize.  There’s another little lesson about Texas…being a weatherman here is a dangerous line of work.  People expect you to predict the future, and do nutty things based on your suggestions.  There are so many different parameters at work in the atmosphere here that predicting the weather more than about 4 hours ahead of time is really a fool’s errand.  But, we do like our 7 day outlooks!  Just don’t bet the family farm on them!


So, to the rest of the world, trying to do business with Texans during an ice storm, try to have a little patience with us…the end of the world is nigh!

Chickens, Chicks, Eggs, and a Baby

Sometimes, in life, decisions come back to haunt you.  Such is the case in our home right now…every time I go to put Baby to sleep.  Bedtime, naptime…they both present challenges right now that no mother should ever have to face.  It’s all because of one decision made nearly 7 years ago…the decision to let my husband have his way. 

He wore me down, really.  I wrote a post about it, so, if you wish, you can go back and read all about it.  He wanted chickens.  If there was one thing in this world I didn’t want, it was chickens!  It was the one rule I had when we first moved out here.  No chickens.  How hard is that?  Honestly?  Well, apparently it was hard enough, because we did eventually wind up with chickens.  Lots of chickens.Chickens in the barnyard

Most of the time, the chickens and I keep the peace.  They stay out near their coops behind the barn.  I do my thing up at the house.  I happily eat their eggs and feed them to my kids all year.  But, once a year, in the fall, we hatch eggs*.  The lucky ones will grow to be replacements for our aging hens and roosters, but many will eventually grace our dining room table.  You may be wondering at this point what hatching chicken eggs has to do with my story, but don’t worry…I’ll get there.

The weather in Texas during the fall can be a little erratic.  One day, it’s 95 degrees.  When you walk outside the next morning, there’s been a cold front that has pushed through (often with plenty of wind damage in its wake), and it’s only 52.  Never to fear, it will be back up to 85 by lunch.  Chicken eggs require a relatively consistent 99.5 degrees during their 3 week incubation time.  With the fickle weather outdoors, that just isn’t possible this time of year…unless you have a hen with an inclination to stay with her eggs.  We have plenty of hens, but we have yet to produce a hen that is a good enough mother to stay with a nest of eggs longer than about 3 days.  We’re generally happy when they don’t break their eggs…asking one to sit on a nest may be a tall order!  So, up in the loft above our bedroom sit two egg incubators.

Hens hunting grasshoppersThey have been there, full of eggs for three weeks.

About a week ago, we began to strain our ears, listening for the first little cheeps and pecks coming from the loft.  Then, on Friday, it finally came…with a cheep cheep here, and a cheep cheep there…here a cheep, there a cheep, everywhere a cheep cheep.

Now, the eggs are hatching, bringing forth new life to feed us for another year.  The kids get so excited, and watch for their daddy to head up the stairs.  They know that when he comes down, he’ll be carrying all the fluffy little things that are ready to make the move from the incubator to the brooder in the garage.  It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.

Wonderful and joyous…

…Until it’s time to put Baby down to sleep.

You see, chicks are really loud when they hatch.  Their doing it in my bedroom in the loft, remember?  Baby’s crib is in our room.  So, it’s me, my husband, Baby, and a bunch of hatching eggs.  We’re one big happy family!

Here I sit on my bed, nursing Baby (who isn’t really very good at  the whole sleeping thing to start with).  She drowsily starts to slip off to dream land.  I gently get up to lay her in her crib.  As soon as her little body touches the mattress, “CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”  It’s rather jarring, I must admit.  Baby is now wide awake, and is not pleased that her mother had the audacity to put her down just as the dreaded sleep monster was about to overtake her.  The chickens, sensing my ire, immediately desist.

“Dad-gum chickens!”  I mutter under my breath.  

I pick up my dear, sweet, non-sleeping child.  I comfort her, and she calms down.  She’s not hungry anymore, but maybe she’ll settle for a lullaby and some rocking.  So I sing a few verses of Jesus Loves Me and Baby is getting sleepy again.  It’s time for the dreaded transfer maneuver.  I gently lay her down, and she immediately rolls to her side…a sure sign that sleep is coming!

“CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”

I want to pull my hair out!  No mother should ever have to try to put a baby to bed with a loft full of chicks!  Why me?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I surrendered during the Battle of Chickens way back in 2010.  Now, despite the fact that “I wouldn’t have to do anything with the chickens,” I now have chickens in my bedroom…my bedroom!  My baby can’t sleep because of the chickens.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d have chicks in my bedroom, I’d have had you committed.

In a week, they’ll all be hatched, dried, and out in the brooder in the garage.  There will once again be peace between the chickens and I.  Only the white noise of air conditioner and noise machine will remain in my bedroom.  It will be back to just the three of us…me, my husband, and the baby.

Well, until the second batch starts to hatch in a few weeks anyway…


*We hatch eggs in the fall instead of the spring because our winters aren’t cold enough to freeze little chickens, but our summers are hot enough to cook them!


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An Epic Battle

As we were sitting on the porch one evening recently, Lizard pointed out an epic battle happening right in front of us in the grass next to the pond.  A large garden spider and a red wasp were fighting to the death.  Lizard and I watched, glued to the action.  The spider was certainly bigger, but which way would the fight go?

Bear happened to walk by as Lizard and I were mesmerized by the action.

“What are you looking at?” she inquired.

I pointed to the wasp and spider, and Lizard piped in, “They’re fighting!”

“Woah, cool!”  Bear was sucked in.

“Quick!” I said to Bear, “Run in and get my camera.  It’s on the bookcase.”

A Victor Emerges

During the 6 seconds it took Bear to bring my camera outside, the battle was decided.  We watched the victor begin to drag the spoils of war off, presumably to consume in the near future.  

About that time, Andrew walked up to ask for some help.  He noticed that we were all focused on something in the grass.  Of course, he too wanted to know what we were doing.  We told him all about the battle that we had just witnessed.  We were still enthralled by the helpless victim being carried off the battlefield by his ruthless foe!  Watch what happens next:

A New Victor Emerges

Yes, that’s my husband’s big boot.  He was mad at the wasp for killing “his” spider.  “I like those spiders!  That wasp killed my spider!”

Now, if you know me very well, you also know that I have an irrational fear of wasps.  Those things are out to get me.  They leave everyone else alone, but they incessantly buzz toward my head…stingers at the ready!  So, I was rather amused to see the wasp meet his untimely demise…even if it did end our show a bit prematurely.  The kids were a little upset at first, but were quickly consoled by watching the video approximately 584 times in quick succession.  So, how could I possibly keep this little gem to ourselves?  Enjoy!


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Socks

Where do they come from?

Socks.  I despise socks!  Socks comprise a major part of the laundry around here, and I can’t really figure out why.  They’re relatively small, and my husband is really the only one who wears them regularly.  You can usually find me wearing a pair of flip flops…rain or shine, hot or cold, it doesn’t really matter to me.  Our children don’t like socks.  The oldest decided several years ago that they made her feet sweat, and said so within earshot of her younger siblings, who, in their quest to be like their big sister, have followed in her bare (but not sweaty!) footsteps.  If you find any of my children walking around with socks inside their shoes, rest assured, there has recently been a knock-down, drag-out fight over the occasion.  I’ve found, in motherhood, that it’s important to pick your battles.  There are circumstances that I will force the children to wear socks…but most of the time it just isn’t worth it.

So, how is it, then, that socks have come to represent such a large portion of the laundry?  Honestly, I have no idea where they all come from.  If you know, please tell me the secret!  Really…it’s driving me crazy (yes, dear husband, I know…it’s too short a trip to waste the gas).

Continue reading “Socks”