Embarrassing moments

Last week, I filled the gas tank at gas station next to a busy highway with my skirt tucked up in the back.  12yo Natalie tried to make me feel better: “It’s all right, Mom. You’ll probably never see those 6,000 people again.”

If you’ve had an embarrassing moment lately, I would love to hear about it.

If you give a mom a minute…

She’s going to need 30.

Remember the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?  One thing logically leads to another.  That books is a perfect description of what I did just a few hours ago, only I’m not suffering from ADHD like the mouse in the story.  My whole train of thought always makes perfect sense.  I’m sure you understand.

My sister-in-law was watching 3 of my younger children, and I called to tell her I was 15 minutes away, and I was bringing a bottle of wine so we could visit over a glass.

My house is less than a 1/4 mile from her house, so I just needed to stop in and grab a bottle before I headed over the hill.

When I pulled into my driveway, I noticed the door to the chicken coop was open.  For the safety of the chickens, I needed to close it before I left.

When I went to close the door, I noticed the feeder was empty.  I had a bag of feed in the trunk of the car, so I hauled it into the coop and filled the feeder.

While I was filling the feeder, I spotted a collection of eggs in the nesting boxes.  “Oh, Lydia is gone this weekend.  I need to gather the eggs for her.”

I carried the 14 eggs carefully in my shirt, and on my way across the yard I stopped to let the Aussie off her leash.  She gets tied up sometimes during the day, but always spends her nights in the house with us.  She promptly took off.

After a brief but fruitless period of yelling her name into the darkness, I continued up the drive to the house.  In the house, I found an egg carton and put away the eggs.  As I put them away, my alarm went off.  It was my reminder to give the Golden Retriever her medication.

I tried to feed the tiny pill to her disguised in a piece of baked potato, but she was unimpressed.  “Don’t you have any meat or cheese?” her eyes inquired.  The pill fell on the floor as she mouthed the baked potato and my eyes said to her, “EAT IT.  NOW.”  She decided to comply.

When I was done with the Golden Retriever, I remembered that the Aussie was still gone.  I went outside and called her.  And called her.  And called her.  Finally, she popped up at the bottom of the driveway looking far too happy.  If any of the neighbors is missing a goat or a chicken or a shoe, I think I know who did it.  I coaxed her into the house telling her what a good girl she was[n’t].

After my battle of wills with the dogs, I remembered that the alarm on my phone a few minutes served a dual purpose: I am supposed to take my vitamins when I give the dog her medication.  I opened 4 bottles in succession and washed the pills down with a glass of water.

The glass of water reminded me that I needed to go to the bathroom.  Really bad.  I did the potty walk to the bathroom.

On my way out of the bathroom, I passed a bottle of wine sitting on the counter and remembered why I was in the house.

And finally I was back in the car with a bottle of wine, heading over the hill to retrieve my little ones and visit my sister-in-law.

A correction from the pulpit is worth a hundred from the pew

Just in case you’ve been laboring under the laughable assumption that we are the Mary Poppins family (practically perfect in every way), let me set you straight.

We normally sit in the back row at church.  I know many families find that the front row works better, but we have our reasons.

Reasons to sit in the back row at church:

  1. It’s nearest the exit.
  2. It’s nearest the bathroom.
  3. It’s the easiest place to insert 12 people who are often late with minimal disruption to others and embarrassment to us.
  4. It’s the least intrusive place for us to whisper corrections and threats, and play musical chairs as we rearrange and divide bad influences from one another.

Last Sunday we were a few minutes late.  Believe it or not, we were late for legitimate, unforeseeable reasons of church business.  Doubt me if you dare.  Even the pastor would probably agree we had a pass.  However, because we were late, our usual seats were occupied and we had to sit near the front.

Reasons to sit in the front row:

  1. The pastor will see fidgeting, bickering children and correct them by name from the pulpit.

I am reasonably confident we will never have to warn those particular children again – at least, not if we sit near the front where they know the pastor can see them.  I don’t know if that’s enough to entice us back to the front of the church, but it does change my outlook a little.

By the way, lest you think less of him, I am exceedingly grateful our pastor has the frank, outspoken personality that brought him to do this.  Perry was not sitting with us, and I was rightfully embarrassed that I missed the behavior that was happening under my nose.  Our children were rightfully embarrassed by being called out.  The pastor spoke with us afterward to make sure we weren’t hurt or offended (we weren’t) and to make sure we understood what the problem had been (we did).

Are you wondering which children were corrected?  They’ve suffered enough for their crimes.  I’ll never tell – unless it happens again.  Then all bets are off!

I want to be a loser: 5 weeks later

I am a loser.  Not just because I lost weight, but because I’m apparently too old for this trendy P90X thing.

Perry and I did the preliminary fitness test on Sunday evening, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I couldn’t come close to doing a single chin-up, but I far exceeded the minimums on several other parts of the test.  Example: I did 20 real push-ups, not the girly ones on your knees.  Not bad, right?

We did our first workout on Monday, and I had very mixed feelings about how it went.  I knew it was supposed to be hard, but there were quite a few times when I just had nuthin’.   After the first few sets of pushups, I couldn’t do a single one. Not even on my knees.

Ditto for the ab workout that followed: there were some parts where I thought, “Hey, I’m still in pretty decent condition.  Look at me go!”  And then there were parts where I couldn’t come close to completing ONE of a particular exercise.  I still have not found the muscles required to attempt a real situp.  My abs feel firm, and I can do crunches with relative ease, but the situps?  They’re just gone.  The muscles are AWOL, and I don’t know if they’re ever coming back.  I think they disappeared somewhere between my 5th and 7th child.  You might be laughing, but I’m serious.  It’s not that situps are too hard.  It’s like trying to wiggle my ears.  I can’t find the right muscles.

But all this has very little to do with my loser status this morning.

After my workout last night, after cooling down, resting, and showering, I headed to bed.  On my way, I leaned over the baby’s bed to check on him.  He was covered in blankets, so I pulled them off.  He didn’t need them.  So far, so good.  Then I noticed a toy next to him.  “That might be uncomfortable if he rolls onto it,” says I.  I’m a good mother, so I notice these things.  I leaned over and pushed the toy against the far side of his bed.  “I think I just pinched a nerve in my hip,” says I.  I slowly stood up, breathing slowly and shallowly to cope with THE FIRE IN MY LOWER RIGHT BACK, and slowly eased myself onto the bed.

“I think I shall die now,” I thought to myself.

Perry came to bed a few minutes later and I warned him not to jiggle the bed lest he kill his old lady and live out his days as a widower.  He brought me 4 ibuprofen and a glass of water, which I pitifully sipped out of the corner of my mouth because there was no way I was raising my torso to drink properly.  For the rest of the night, I didn’t move.  I didn’t roll over or shift position or reach for the sheets when the temperature dipped below 90.  I said a prayer of thanks and praise when the baby slept through the night.

This morning I am marginally better.  My bad feels like smoldering coals instead of a streak of lightning, and I did manage to dress (slowly, painfully, one step at a time) and go to the bathroom.  I’ve taken 4 more ibuprofen.  Now I am planted in a chair 3 feet from my bed with a heating pad on my back and I plan to stay here until…well, until I have to go to the bathroom again.

Oh, and while I was in the bathroom I stepped on the scale.  I’ve lost another 2 lbs. this week, putting my total loss at 11 lbs.  I am just 1 lb. over my pre-marriage/pre-pregnancy weight range.  Now I want to know why my waist is still 5.5″  bigger than it was back then…oh, wait.  Never mind.

How is your weight loss/fitness goal going?  Have you hit any bumps?

4 Moms: 3 smoothie recipes and lunch linky

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Well, God is teaching me patience today.4 Moms 35 Kids answer questions about big families

Did you see last week at the bottom of my 4 Moms post, where I said that this week we would talk about patience?

First, I lost a half-completed post on patience.  I understood that God was teaching me the very lesson at hand and acquiesced willingly to His supreme sense of Humor and Irony.  What else could I do?

Second, while I was composing a post on patience for the second time in the same day, Bethany pooped everywhere.  Well, not everywhere.  I think she missed one or two spots inside the house and one or two people.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but my poop-o-meter has a very low tolerance (like, ZERO) and the alarm was going off like crazy.  Remember the scene in Daddy Daycare, when a little kid comes out of the bathroom and Eddie Murphy is looking at the aftermath?  Like all the best horror movies, you don’t actually see anything, but Psycho music is playing as he surveys the toilet, walls and ceiling.  That’s how I felt.  There was a lot of poo in a lot of places, and I was not very patient at all.  I read my post a few more times over the next hour and resolved to do better at practicing what I preached.

Third, I learned that the other 3 moms are not, in fact, blogging about patience today.  Since we’re a team, I reluctantly decided that it was my duty to go along with them.  I was not as cheerful as when God preempted my post earlier today.  Now I have to write about lunch and try to sound like a fun, creative mom when all I really want to do is throw my plate on the floor and jump up and down on it, wailing like a spoiled 2yo.  “BUT THIS ISN’T WHAT  I WANTED!!!”

Fourth, I can’t take solace in the fact that I am a week ahead on my 4 Moms post, because I’m not.  Since we already have big plans for the next 5 weeks, there is not a snowball’s chance in Texas that my patience post will see the light of day before September.

God is really working on me this week.

[cracks knuckles]

Think like a fun mom.  Be a fun mom.  Be fun patient mom.  Deep breath.

We live in Texas.  It’s summer, and it’s hot.  Lunch time comes in the middle of the day, when it’s hotter than hot.  What is our lunch of choice?


Since we have these almost daily, we try to make them varied and healthy.  I can rationalize a koolaid slushy for lunch once in a great while, but my rationalization muscles get tired easily and I like it that way.  I’ll get worried if my rationalization muscles get big and buff.

My go-to summertime smoothie lunch is Peanut Butter Banana.  If you grew up on peanut butter banana sandwiches, you understand.  If not, maybe you’re looking at me like I’m crazy.  I assure you, it’s good.  If you ask around, some of your friends will back me up and tell you I’m not making this up.  Others will shake their head at the weird blogs you read and ask why you were surprised.

Peanut butter/banana smoothie
  • 3 bananas (I peel ripe ones and pop them in the freezer in a gallon sized bag)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (you’re not actually going to measure that, are you?)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • milk or kefir to fill blender pitcher

Blend til smooth and holler for the troops.

It usually takes 2-3 blender pitchers to feed the kids and me, so we often switch to fruit smoothies for the next round.

Fruit smoothie
  • 3 bananas (add natural sweetness)
  • 1 cup of other fruit – frozen strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, or anything else that sounds good.  A few tablespoons of very fruity jam is nice too.
  • 1-2 trays of ice cubes
  • milk or kefir to fill blender pitcher (the tang of kefir is much nicer than milk in fruit smoothies, even if your kids claim they don’t like kefir; do a blind taste test and you’ll prove them wrong)

Blend til smooth.  Since this is the second round, you won’t even have to call them.  They’ll all be at your elbow begging to push the buttons on the blender.

Later in the afternoon, while the little ones are napping, we sometimes have something a little more grown-up:

Starbucks-style frapps
  • 1.5-2 trays ice cubes
  • 1-2 Tbs. instant coffee
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream if you have it on hand  🙂
  • milk to fill blender pitcher
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, opt.

Give it a shot. I make mine decaf, but you might be man enough for the real stuff.  Vary the amount of coffee or try brewing extra strong coffee instead of the instant.  Freeze in an ice tray and use in place of regular ice in the recipe.  Add more sugar if you like it as sweet as the ones you buy.  However you make it, you’ll never pay $5 for a cold-froo-froo coffee drink again.

Want to share your favorite lunch recipe or tradition?  Link up with us!  When you join the linky at one of the 4 Mom’s, your link will show up on all 4!

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I’m a criminal

Enter our current giveaway for a free toy of your choice from Down To Earth Toys

I have a new baby nephew.  He was born to my brother and his sweet beautiful bride in Waco, 3 1/2 hours northeast of us.

Since this is their first baby and they have no older helpers or family nearby, we sent Kaitlyn and Lydia to help for several days during Baby Samson’s first week.  On Thursday evening, I headed up to retrieve the girls and see the little guy firsthand.  Becca and Parker rode with me in Perry’s little work car, but both fell asleep halfway through the trip.

As I came through Georgetown, it was already past 11 PM and I-35 was nearly empty.  The nearest vehicle was a silhouette in my rear view mirror, at least 100 yards behind me.  I was tired and kept finding myself dropping below 60 mph, although the posted limit was 70 during the day and 65 at night.

Confession time: I was talking to Kaitlyn on the phone as I drove.  Not the best idea, I know, but I was hardly in traffic and I think the conversation was keeping me from getting drowsy.  This is relevant because I am hard of hearing in my right ear and always hold the phone on the left side, with my left hand.  When I realized that I was in the far left lane and decided to move to the right, my left hand was busy and it seemed like too much trouble to signal.

I know you are gasping in horror.  Changing lanes without signalling?  Who knew that KimC was capable of such crimes?  Will you still read my blog now that you know my dirty secret?

Fear not, dear readers.  My life of crime came to an early end, and justice was done.  The authorities were on the scene.  The one car on the road – the dark silhouette in my rear view mirror – exploded into a whirling array of red and blue lights and I found myself by the side of the road, rifling through my husband’s glove box looking for an insurance card.

But I’m afraid I may have been a disappointment to our brave hero.   Georgetown is a college town, and I’m told that eager college students often start their weekend drinking binge on Thursday night.  I’ve never been guilty of DUI, but I have driven behind a few likely candidates and they are slow. They tend to go 5 or 10 mph under the limit, and they probably don’t pay much attention to details like signalling a lane change.  They probably drive smallish, older, inexpensive cars too, just like Perry’s work car.

If you still doubt me, the officer had me walk the figurative white line: he subtly tested my ability to  multi-task, something the inebriated simply can’t do.  We used to be good friends with a police officer, and he told us all about that trick and the amusement it provides.

Between the sleeping 9yo, the baby who woke up and cried on cue, and  my ability to multi-task, I think the officer’s suspicions were allayed.  Also, you probably don’t see too many 38yo women wearing their hair in a bun on their way home from a sorority party.

In the end, I left with a warning but no ticket and my driving record is still squeaky clean.  I have to admit that I am just a little grateful for the reminder to signal when I change lanes.  It’s very important for me to use my turn signal every single time.  How else can I justify my extreme irritation at drivers who don’t?

When it rains, it pours. Microwave recommendations?

That’s true for Texas weather, but apparently it’s also true when appliances start breaking.

You probably remember that we replaced our washer recently.  Then the fridge.

I remember joking at some point that if the stove went out, we would have replaced every major appliance in the house.  The very next day, one of the burners died a dramatic death.  It quite literally exploded in a burst of light under the glass top with a loud pop or bang, depending on the level of drama you expect and tolerate from an appliance.

The rest still worked, so we didn’t panic.  We decided to look into repairing it ourselves, then the kids and I got used to cooking with 3 burners.  It was somewhere on my list of Things To Do.

Then yesterday, the microwave went out.  We use our microwave a lot, but the kids and I started talking about The Old Days when I was a kid, and what it was like to live without a microwave.  We used to heat Dad’s coffee a cup at a time in a saucepan.  Leftovers were eaten cold or warmed slowly in the oven.  Cocoa was made on the stovetop, whether you were making one cup or 8.   There was no such thing as microwave popcorn, not even on Friday nights when company came over for a movie.  That’s ok, because there were no DVD players or VCRs either. (“What’s a VCR?”)

I thought it might be fun to spend a few days researching replacements rather than having Perry pick one up on his way home.  After all, the last one was probably less than a year old (note to self: keep better track of receipts).  We could rough it without a microwave for a little while.  Fun, right?

Late last night, I remembered that I had bread rising for tonight’s dinner.  I popped it in the oven and set a 25 minute timer.

The window in our oven door is entirely blacked over with…something.  I run the cleaning cycle regularly, I promise.  That window has never been see-through-able.  So I was slightly alarmed when I saw light through the window.  I heard a slightly alarmed voice next to me.  “Mom?  Something is on fire in the oven!”

I opened the door and flames were leaping and fizzling from the lower element.  I closed the door to think for a moment.  I opened it again and watched as the fire worked its way from left to right – at least it was travelling in a sensible direction.  Perry looked curiously in my direction.  “Is the bread done already?”

“No, but the oven is on fire.  It’s the element.”  I took the half-cooked bread out and closed the oven again as we considered what to do.

After a moment, Perry went to the breaker box and turned off the power to the range.  I put the bread back in, hoping the residual heat would finish cooking it.  As we headed to bed, we agreed that maybe I should expedite the microwave research.  I might also expedite the shipping on the 2 parts for my range, assuming they won’t cost more than a replacement range and we can replace the burner in a glass top range ourselves.

Have you had your microwave for several years?  What brand is it?

Water Woes, 2011

While the rest of the country is quietly enduring blizzards and ice storms, south Texas is being devastated by cold, winter-like temperatures.  Have some pity, people.  We’re not prepared for this stuff.  Our blood is thin, our houses are designed to stay cool, and our plumbing is exposed.

Yes, my pipes froze again.  Yes, I know this happened last year.  Thank you for reminding me.  Yes, we really should figure out a way to avoid this, but then what would I blog about?

This time it was all of them, instantaneously.  During the day, while we were using them.  It’s that cold here.  I have it on good authority that today was colder here than in Alaska, at least on the day in question.  See?  This is not our fault.  Texas was not designed for this weather.  Darn global warming – er, climate change.  Al Gore warned us that global warming could cause colder winters.  It can also cause warmer winters, wetter and/or drier winters and/or summers, inflation, male pattern balding and acne.

Perry and I bundled up and rushed out to see if we could isolate the problem and solve it before it got worse.  Since everything quit at once, we deduced that the main line out at the well must have frozen, cutting off supply to the house.  We needed to get it defrosted before all the lines under the house froze as well.  We didn’t want to risk having a pipe burst somewhere.  Heavens, no.  Not that.

We started with a hair dryer, then quickly moved on to more sophisticated equipment: a space heater under a makeshift tent constructed from a table, a folding ladder, a shredded old drop cloth, and 3 sleeping bags.  At 2 AM, with temps in the teens and a windchill in the single digits, the pressure relief valve in the well opened up and started spewing water like fire hydrant.  This sounds good, but it’s not.  We needed the water to go past there, and now it was taking the easy way out.  After shutting off power to the well, we called it quits.

The following day I had to come to grips with the truth: my pipes didn’t just freeze.  Most of them burst as well.  In the winter wonderland that is under my house, I walked around and counted 13 visible breaks.  But 95% of my pipes are covered in foam pipe insulation, so I’m sure I missed a few.

We were entirely without running water for over 24 hours.  During that time, 9 of my 10 children got sick.  Again.  Yes, we just finished with a bug.  Thank you for reminding me.  Why yes, there was vomit.  Why is there always vomit?  Thank you for asking.  Two of my children were unusually spontaneous and missed the toilet.  We appreciate spontaneity in our house.

In that 24 hours, I also managed to teach my children not to flush the toilet unless they did #2, a lesson I’m sure to regret in the years to come.  Isn’t it funny how quickly they pick up certain lessons while others take weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime?

Fortunately I know a very hot guy who does plumbing.  It’s no secret he has a crush on me, so I figured he would take the job.  After 6 long cold hours and several unforeseen problems, we had cold water running in the tub.  We also had a big hole in the kids’ wall where I had drywalled years earlier without leaving plumbing access, but that’s easy to fix.

At that point it was midnight and the temperature was in the teens again so I invited the plumber to a sleepover.  Oh – did I mention that I’m in a romantic relationship with him?  It helps that we’ve been married nearly 18 years.  Sorta breaks the ice, if you know what I mean.

That was Wednesday.  We enjoyed our indoor running water Thursday and Friday, using buckets in the tub to fill the toilet and heating water on the stove for dishes and a few badly needed baths.  We even shared with other family members whose water had frozen.

I assured Perry that this was far less hardship than it would be for him to come home from work in the evening and stay up late into the night replumbing the house while the nighttime temps were in the teens.  I wasn’t just willing to wait until the weekend; I wanted to wait until the weekend.

So he bought supplies Friday while he was in town and on Saturday, he set to work again.  By now he was sick as well as the kids, but it didn’t stop him.  This time he redid nearly all the plumbing under the house.  Each milestone was a new celebration: cold water in the kitchen and bathroom sinks!  Hurrah!  Cold water to the washer: Start the laundry!  Hot water to the kitchen sink: Let’s do dishes!

When the hot water to the tub was done, we ran into a new problem: the flow was almost completely blocked by sediment in the taps.  Perry disassembled the handles and the faucet, but there was no way to clean them.  He found a way to temporarily ease the problem by letting the water in the pipe fall back down the pipe and drain out a valve under the house but the blockage kept returning.

In the end, he solved the problem.  The good guys always win in the end, don’t they?  He turned off the main supply to the house, taking pressure off all the lines.  He turned on the bathtub taps, hot and cold, wide open.  Nothing came out, of course, because the supply was shut off.

Next, he opened a valve outside near the main supply, where any water in the system could simply pour out.  Then we attached a garden hose to the spigot by the well – the only one that still had pressure with the supply to the house shut off – and brought it into the bathroom.  We turned it on and forced the water into the tub faucet, backward.

Do you follow?  One daughter called it “giving the tub an enema.”  I don’t know where she learned that term.  Nobody can accuse us of raising sheltered homeschoolers.

So we forced water backward, through the taps, through the supply lines, and out the open valve under the house, onto the ground.  Ditto for the shower head.  Hubby stayed under the house working the valves and monitoring the success of our efforts at creating backward flow, while a daughter and I worked together in the bathroom.  Don’t try to picture it; just believe me when I tell you the whole process was comically awkward and messy, and also slightly terrifying when I realized water was spraying out of the tub enclosure onto the floor and the huge puddle had very nearly reached from my feet to a live extension cord.

In the end, it worked and nobody got electrocuted.  Oh, and we all got hot showers with the best water pressure we’ve had in years.  And we will all live happily ever after, unless the water freezes again next weekend when the temperatures dip again into the teens.

Beware the vampires

continued from this post

We left the beach, tired but happy, and headed toward the parking lot.  We were thinking we would load our possessions, then go back to the visitor center to shower and change in shifts.  It was about 7:30, the sun was below the horizon, and darkness was moving in.  That’s when the terror began.

As we made our way between the sand dunes, they surrounded us. Swarms of giant mosquitos.  We panicked.  We swatted madly.  We screamed and ran.

Perry, Kaitlyn and Megan brought up the rear with the remainder of our gear.  As they flew past the few remaining beach visitors, Kaitlyn slid out of control and careened into the boardwalk rail.  “Trip her, Dad!”  Megan shrieked.  “Leave her as bait!”

When we arrived at the van, it was even worse.  We opened the doors to more thick swarms, screamed, tried to load our belongings, swinging wildly all the while.  We sprayed mosquito repellent blindly in every direction, all to no avail.

We closed the doors and windows to keep them out, but found to our horror that we were only locking ourselves in with them.  It was like being in a horror film.  We screamed again, opened the windows and started the engine, cranking up the a/c.  Without even stopping for a headcount, I hit the gas and swerved toward the park entrance, using my free hand to smash, swipe, swoosh and shoo the vicious creatures that engulfed me.

The panic in the van became more subdued as we drove, finally settling to a faint irregular thudding as the kids in the back picked off the remaining population one by one, smearing them into the windows with the palms of their hands.

Ten minutes down the road, we finally took a breath and calmed down.  I heard a few nervous giggles from the back, and suddenly we could laugh about it.  It was funny, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.  We have resolved: next year, we leave the beach before sundown.

Horrible bugs in Texas

Maggot tails: not as cute as puppy tails

Blister Beetles – Did you know Texas has 120 varieties of a horrible little bug called a blister beetle?  We see them everywhere and only recently learned what they are.  One of the girls found one in her bra last week. Right now my 22 month old nephew has blisters all over his arm, blisters that look just like a severe burn but are the painless result of being spit on by a blister beetle.   We discovered the same blisters on Becca’s shoulder years ago but didn’t know at the time what had caused them.

Rat Tailed MaggotsWe found some of these last year, and again today.  Ugh.  The name falls short of the true horror of the thing.

Hairballs of Daddy Longlegs – We saw precious few of these during the 2 year drought, but they’re back.  I hope I don’t have flashbacks.  The video in the link?  It’s not mine, and it’s only a very small and sluggish group of daddy longlegs.  It doesn’t begin to capture the horror of reality.  In the storage space under the house we often have groups the size of a soccer ball with many hundreds of occupants.

Scorpions – Hardly newsworthy here in Texas, but Kaitlyn found the cutest li’l baby scorpion in her shirt the other day.  It was even cuter after she squished it with a rocking horse.

Centipedes – No, you’ve never seen centipedes like these.  Over a foot long with bodies as thick as your finger.  We also have matching milipedes, though they’re not so scary with their teensy little legs.

Lichen Orb Weaver – Lydia found one of these in web that was 5 feet wide and high.  It had a body nearly the size of a golf ball.  It was so fat that when it fell over, it couldn’t right itself.  She decided not to hold it.

Cone-nosed Bloodsuckers – We used to lightheartedly call these “cowboy bugs” because they walk with a swagger and look like they’re wearing spurs.  Now we know that they can inflict a painful bite, and are generally full of blood (whose blood?!) when we smash them.