Thursday, February 24, 2011

If You Call Them, They Will Come...

We might live in Florida now, but believe me, the Hogs are alive and well here. Maybe it's the fact that there's a new Razorback fan in the Acosta household (despite whatever her Daddy may tell you), or maybe it was my robust cheering during football season this past year, but whatever it was, it worked. Perhaps, a little too well...

The night before we left to go to Arkansas for Christmas we were driving home around 9 p.m. Obviously it was dark, and as we entered our neighborhood we noticed a car in the opposite lane shining its bright lights across our lane and into a green space to the right of our car. Herschel slowed the car as we passed trying to figure out what these people were doing, and that's when I saw it. A big, black pig. Eating his way through the meticulously landscaped neighborhood.

Spotting a wild pig is not that out of the ordinary in Florida. Being from Arkansas I equate it to seeing deer along the interstate. As you drive along, you'll often see pigs feeding on the side of the road. But this was not the interstate, and this pig was considerably larger than the ones I'd seen along the road. I was more than a little disturbed. Not to mention that Herschel added to my uneasiness by nonchalantly pointing out that the noise that we'd often wondered about coming from the green space behind our house, was probably not a bull frog as we had once thought, but more than likely pigs. Thank you very much for that.

So, to Arkansas we went. A wonderful time was had by all, and Herschel flew back to Florida for a week to work before rejoining me and Sophia in Arkansas. The morning he was to leave, our pastor came to pick up to take him to the airport and what should they find in the middle of the road, but a dead pig! According to their approximations, it probably weighed 100-200 lbs.! And according to my approximations, that's equal to a person. Wild. With tusks.
In case you're keeping score, that's one pig sighted and one pig carcass in the road. So everything should be good, right? Wrong. Here are some very poor photos I took with my phone of what we found when we were taking a walk around the neighborhood the other night.

On the second one, between the street and the sidewalk is ususally all grass. That's not the case any more. The pigs are here in full force and there are many other spots like this throughout the neighborhood. We've even received a notice from the HOA saying that there are 12+ pigs that they are aware of in the neighborhood. They are trying to trap and get rid of them, but apparently the last time the neighborhood was invaded by pigs a couple of years ago it took approximately 9-10 months to get rid of them. And there were only three or four then.

Now all of this alone is enough to raise my blood pressure and keep me indoors as soon as the sun starts going down, but my sweet husband so thoughtfully made me watch a special on the Discovery channel a couple of weeks ago about Russian boars and how they are overrunning the Southeastern US. Apparently they are mating with wild pigs and becoming increasingly aggressive. Terrific! Oh, and two nights after he made me watch this, he left town. I'm pretty sure Oscar just had to hold it if he needed to go to the bathroom after dark. I'm kidding...sort of.

So, I have a new found pride in the fact that I am an Arkansas Razorback fan, because the animals can be big and mean and strong and take you down. However, I would like for them to be that way somewhere besides my neighborhood. So, I hope you'll understand if I'm not calling the Hogs quite so frequently these days. And I definitely won't be doing any Sic 'Em Bears. Yikes!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayer Rocker

When you first become pregnant, you're bombarded with all of the "stuff" that you simply must have in order to take this little bundled person you leave the hospital with and transform them into a normal, functioning human being over the course of the next 18+ years. And, then you realize that people have been having babies for centuries and most of this stuff hasn't been around quite that long, but yet somehow people have survived. Therefore, you (and your baby) probably will, too.

It's easy to see that now that I'm on the other side of things, but as some of you might remember, I just about had a meltdown while I was in the thick of it. It's just overwhelming. What I found most helpful was talking to people who had recently had children and finding 1-2 really good, practical books that could help you weed out the useful from the over-the-top. During that process, I discovered that there are only a handful of things that belong on your "must-have" list, and then the "wants" vary from there. However, whether they labeled it a "want" or a "must-have," most everyone I talked to agreed that a comfortable chair, preferably a rocker, needed to be somewhere close to the top of one of those lists. Now, don't even get me started on the decision process of actually choosing said rocker - all you need to know is that we eventually found a good one.

Over the last five months, I've spent a lot of time there. Most frequently in the middle of the night. Rocking, back and forth, back and forth. There have been many sweet moment in that chair, but also many tears shed...even a few by my daughter. And I will be the first to say that usually I have not bounded out of bed at 4 a.m. and skipped across the living room and into the nursery to go and sit in that chair. It's usually a bit more labored than that, and it is likely accompanied by much grumbling and complaining.

But one night this week while I was rocking back and forth, it hit me - God has used my time in this chair. In the quietness of those moments, when it is just me and Sophia, He has brought specific issues and people to mind and encouraged me to pray for them. Things that I would've never even given a second thought to during the roar of a hectic day, He has been able to quietly whisper into my heart as I sit there in the silence.

Suddenly it didn't seem to matter quite as much that I now know the precise time that the paper is delivered or when the sun comes up. I'm humbled that God cares enough to spend these moments with me, shaping me, molding me and (hopefully) creating a better version of me.

So, now I'm learning to treasure the quiet moments in that rocking chair. It's where I've prayed countless prayers over our precious little girl, where I've cried out for rest, where I've lifted up the needs of friends and family. I'm so thankful for the hours I've spent there.

Oh, and I think I would now say without a doubt that a rocker should be on every new mom's "must-have" list.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Parental Failure

I think I'm finally ready to admit it: we have failed as parents with our first-born.
Disobedient, stubborn, jealous, slightly overweight, nosy, no regard for personal space, and that's only the beginning of the problems. I only hope that what people say about a dog being a good test of your parenting skills is not true. Because if Oscar's behavior is any indication, Sophia is in a world of hurt.
As much as we try, Oscar is just Oscar - for better or worse...usually more for worse. We started trying to get him used to walking on a leash from the time he was a puppy, and he has never taken to it very well. We've tried just about every contraption out there to train him to walk calmly beside us rather than pulling and huffing and puffing in front of us, but nothing has worked. Even as we walked last night, Oscar gagged himself by pulling once again on the leash, and Herschel replied, "It's really simple, Oscar, if you don't pull, that won't happen." Unfortunately nothing is quite that simple with Oscar.
In fact, Oscar has graduated from not one, but two(!!) obedience classes. Graduated, not simply participated. We're talking mortar board and everything. Which only makes me lose faith in our education system.
What we got out of these two classes is that Oscar is extremely food motivated - no shock there, hence the slight weight problem, and that despite his behavior, he's just so doggone lovable. Each week when we would enter Petsmart for our class, everyone could hear Oscar coming - puffing, barking, whining, sooooo excited to get to go to class. And all the employees, knowing what was coming around the corner, would say, "Oooh, it's Oscar!" while other customers with their well-trained dogs looked on with horror as we corralled Oscar into the classroom area.
That's the reaction we get most places. One time when he was displaying similar behavior in the waiting area at the vet's office while waiting to be boarded, a rather nervous looking older woman with a perfectly behaved pooch said, "Oh, this must be his first time." To which the receptionist who happened to overhear the comment replied, "Who Oscar? No way, he loves it here!" About that time, they came to take him back and greeted him with a, "Hey, it's Oscar!!" For the record, I've never heard them greet another dog like that, by name. It's like he's a celebrity there. And we all know how great celebrities behave...
I know we're certainly a part of the problem, and we used to be a little embarrassed about it, but now we know that there's really no changing it. So we just love him. And all of our closest friends have learned to love Oscar as well. Whether it's chasing him around our living room or letting him lay on top of them as we watch a movie, they know that it's just Oscar. And there's not much you can do about it.
For all of his faults, he is potty trained, so at least Sophia's got that in her favor.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So, it's been about three months since my last post. I know, I'm a bad blogger. I keep putting it off over and over again. But this little person that entered our world a little over 4 months ago has shaken things up a bit. So, pardon me, but occasionally I've chosen a shower over blogging. I know, ridiculous, and frankly, down right selfish, but what are you going to do...

Call it a New Year's resolution, a light-bulb moment, or whatever you want, but I had a realization around mid-January that things needed to be straightened out in my life. This paddling like crazy just to barely keep my head above water bit just wasn't working for me any more. So that's when I realized, drum roll, please.....I can't do it all. (Gasp!) And then I realized, I have to pick and choose the things that are important and need doing the most, and do those to the best of my ability. And everything else, well, I can't really worry about it. I've got a new priority in my life - and don't tell her, but she can be a bit demanding.

So, over the past couple of weeks, I've been sort of purging my personal life. Getting rid of or stopping behaviors that are not helpful or hinder productivity in my life. And equally important, adding things or activities that increase efficiency and/or happiness. Sounds like such a simple concept, but it hasn't been as easy as you'd think. Getting out of the rut I'd been stuck in has been huge, but not necessarily quick. And most days, it's still a work in progress.

This process has caused me to begin focusing more on the things that are truly important in my life - not in a sappy way, but more in a "this contributes something to your life" or "this wastes an hour of your time," sort of way. And I feel like I'm beginning to turn a corner. Maybe. Either that or it's a really big curve in the road. But, either way, I feel like it's progress, so I'll take it.

Fortunately for the couple of people out there who actually read this, blogging made my list of things to keep. Mainly because I find it pretty therapeutic and it's nice to have a creative outlet from time to time. It's also a quick and easy way to keep our friends up-to-date on things that are going on in our lives. So, hopefully, reminding myself of all of these things will help keep me motivated to keep this puppy updated. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.