Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner

I love my church.

Today our church was so bright and beautiful. We just put down this beautiful warm toned tile on the altar area and because it was Reformation Sunday, our liturgical color was red which always looks so warm to me. Those things along with the candles and the way the choir sounded with the new acoustics (thanks to the tile) just made the whole thing beautiful and peaceful and reverent. We sang "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and heard about what things were like in the church in Martin Luther's day and most importantly we heard about how the bible teaches us that we  justified by Christ alone for our sins, which is something I need to hear all the time, because without it, I would teeter between thinking I was a pretty good person and then realizing that my best works are really just filthy rags.

In church, I was looking at my beautifully well dressed, well behaving children and I had such wonderful thoughts about them. I thought about how wonderful it is that I am able to stay home with them and homeschool them. I thought about ways I would show my love to them this week. *I* would slow down. *I* would spend less time on the computer. *I* would keep the tv off and read more books. We would have tea together and play games together and *I* would be more patient during our classroom time. *I* would be great!

How vain. I am none of those things without Christ. I am especially not patient. And I am prone to turning on the tv in order to get some peace. And playing games? I usually do not want to because it takes more brain power than I have after parenting 5 kids all day. And I hate the mess that having 7 people living in a small house brings. I often feel swallowed by it while trying to keep on top of things. There is no physical rest.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with those things that I aspire to do and we do enjoy those things together occasionally.  It is not easy for me though. I didn't take that into account when I was planning my own awesomeness this morning. How I need Christ.

Almost as soon as we got home, the chaos started. Barry had a gig today across town, and so he left and I was on my own. The children were not fighting or being unkind to each other, but it can be just sort of naturally loud in a home with 5 children, ages 9 and under and I am not a big fan of loud at all. It doesn't naturally bring out in me all of those qualities I was smugly planning on having while sitting in the peace and beauty of my church this morning. It's quite the opposite actually.

And for this, I have Christ who forgives me and strengthens me and helps me keep going and doing good things when it is hard.

I want to put in a disclaimer that I love my job and I love motherhood. To me it is beautiful and sacred. I would do nothing different, and I would even welcome more children into our family. I believe truly that it is very good to do things that interfere with our self centeredness. These are the things that help us to grow. And nothing gives me more joy than being home with my children all day. I feel that I am truly blessed to be able to do so.  I am just not very awesome and could not do it on my own strength.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Story of the Rats

Rat hunting on a Saturday morning. That's normal, right?
If you are on my facebook, you have seen many posts about our new furry little guests. This has been by far one of the hardest few weeks of my life anxiety wise, and I thought I'd share the story.

We had heard that the city we live in was having a problem with rats, and that we needed to take the proper precautions. We bought new steel trash cans with good lids and made sure to keep Richards "bathroom" clean. (Richard is our dog). Over the summer, there were a handful of times that I would see a rat in my yard on garbage night, and while I thought it really creepy, I never imagined that they would actually get in our house. Still, we probably should have taken more precautions then, especially making sure that we had no holes in our roof or chimney, but we didn't. Our mistake.

Another mistake we made was to have a wood porch, but we just didn't think of it. Eventually we had planned to pour a new cement porch, but then we thought about moving and decided that it wasn't worth the expense, and so we didn't. We probably should have. Wood porches and decks attract rats.

So anyways, fast forward to about 3 weeks ago. Barry and I were laying down to go to bed. The house was quiet and all of a sudden we heard a rhythmic scratching sound in our bedroom. Richard has a paw that he likes to lick rhythmically and if he does it at the right spot in the house, it makes a scratching sound. I had heard this scratching sound a few other times that week and always assumed it was Richard and when I said "Richard stop" the sound stopped. This night however, when I said "Richard stop!", Richard came trotting into the bedroom from the living room. Barry said outloud "That wasn't Richard."

He immediately got up and went downstairs. I heard him from the basement say something, that isn't particularly nice, followed by "there's a rat down here!" He instructed me to go outside. He was going to try to scare the rat out of the basement and wanted to make sure he got out. The rat was standing in a spot by where the electrical wire for the airconditioning unit was coming in and the hole was just the size of a quarter-all they need to get in. (if you live in Warren or St. Clair Shores, check your houses). Instead of scaring the rat out, I heard Barry shout and then Barry came upstairs telling me that the rat bolted somewhere in the basement and he couldn't see where he was.

I don't remember exactly how we got back to sleep that night, but it was the first night of many with interrupted sleep. The next night, we had our niece's pellet gun in tow.

And the next night.

And the next night.


But the little rat is a very good hider. Several times we heard scratching below our bed, only to go downstairs and look everywhere only to find nothing.

We set up trap after trap after trap. Most of them were ignored, but the glue traps we set up got visibly moved out of their way, or they were very smart and loaded them up with insulation so that the trap wouldn't be a threat to them. Seriously, I had no idea rats were so smart. Every morning we woke up feeling defeated and every night we lost sleep. I finally just took to sleeping on the couch so that i couldn't hear him. They hadn't tried to come on the main level of the house.  I am assuming because of Richard. But maybe not. It doesn't really matter. it just matters that he hadn't, and we wanted to make sure that  he didn't.

We were fed up. We decided to take away any hiding spots the rat might have, so we emptied the entire contents of our basement out and put it in our garage and did some major cleaning up. Also that day, while I was away at my moms house, Barry pulled apart the front porch and made sport of rat hunting. He saw that they had burrowed under there and he took the hose and collapsed their little underground network, causing seven of them to rise up out of the muck. Barry shot them all with a pellet gun (very rewarding, btw)

We had hoped that that would be the end of it, but that night, the scratching was worse than ever. You can imagine how defeating that feels.

So. We decided to bring in Orkin. We weren't entirely sure what Orkin would do that we hadn't done, but we hoped maybe he would poison them somehow that we hadn't thought of. We had put out poison pellets, but the rats weren't interested in adding that to their diets. I heard there was a powder that rats breathe in that kills them. (there is, but it turns out that they never use it around kids or dogs because it is that deadly that you need to wear a respirator around it or you could end up dead)

The Orkin man walked around the property and found a few holes that he though were big enough to get in, and he set traps up all over the basement where we had heard him. He set up traditional traps and glue traps. Pretty much the same stuff we set up, only he set up a LOT more of them. He said it might take a a couple weeks to be able to trap them, as rats will not eat off of trap unless they are starving and have no other food source, and given the fact that he has ignored all of traps and poisons thus far, he must have another food source somewhere. A rats food source can even be dog poop, and while we religiously every single day clean up after Richard, we have neighbors that have a couple of dogs, and we can't speak for how often they clean up.

He did say, that he didn't think they were actually nesting in our house, because he didn't see any of the normal signs. That was relieving.

Anyhow, long story short, it appears that they are gone. We did hear scratching for a couple nights, and I saw one outside in the backyard 2 nights ago, but we haven't heard anything in 3 nights, after we patched one last hole that we found near our chimney. I think they are finally gone and I will be able to sleep easy once more.  It may take a while as every sound you hear at night suddenly becomes suspect. I wonder how long that will last.

Anyhow, the rats are gone! We can get back to our regularly scheduled basement finishing.