Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dropping In...

When I said I was going to take a bloggy break, I thought I would need all the way 'til Labor weekend. Turns out I am already itching to come back and I'm trying to decide if I should hold fast to my time-line or say the hell with it and start posting again. Maybe just writing this one post will be the release I need and I can hold off until Labor weekend.

A lot has happened around here-- some good, some bad. Nothing like a death in the family or a major illness, thank God, but definitely something that forces us to change and swallow our pride and to count our blessings even more. I know that things happen for a reason and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I also know you don't judge a man before you walk a mile in his shoes and don't count your chickens before they hatch. The point is, life happens, and not always the way you want it to. It's the journey, not the destination.

Andrew was let go from his job not too long ago. It's been a blow for us, but we're honestly doing ok. We're already used to living on less and we don't live the high life and keep up with the Joneses. It just means we have to tighten the belt up another notch. Shopping with coupons like I do is a major bonus, our pantry and closets are well-stocked with food and supplies and the only thing we really need to shop for would be milk, meat and diapers (though diapers will soon be dropped from the list!). He's been looking and applying for work and hopefully something will come along soon. We're happy to have him home, though, and we've been enjoying the extra family time together.

We've been blessed with good friends that are passing on their children's clothes to us, so I won't need to worry about that. One family has 2 children, a girl a year ahead of Evelyn and a boy 2 years ahead of Peter. Another has 2 girls, both a year or two ahead of Gretchen and Sylvia. I'm lucky that ever since the kids were born, I've always shopped second-hand clothing for the kids, so they absolutely don't mind getting hand-me-downs and actually, they think it's normal procedure. Pretty much the only things they get brand-new would be shoes and underclothes, but even then, it's clearance prices and sales from the year before. I just bought clearanced flip-flops for the kids for next summer.

What really hurts with not having Andrew's paycheck is the gas money. Living in the country, we have to drive so far to get places, so we do a lot of consolidating with our errands and shop at stores that give us gas discounts. We recently filled up the van on gas that cost us $2.97/gallon thanks to gas points at the food store. That same food store also doubles coupons so it gives me more incentive to shop there.

New friends we've made that live nearby do a lot of volunteer work (they're retirees) and recently let us know that they dropped our name into a hat at the ruritan club that sponsors a few families and pays their way into the county fair. We hadn't planned on going to the county fair this year, because we cannot afford both the entrance fee and the rides for the kids, so it's really nice to know that we'll be able to do both and for once, we don't have to tell the kids "no" when they ask to go on the rides. They are even paying for our meal at the fair which always smells so good, but again, too pricey for a family of six. The kids are really excited about going to the fair and they all want to make something and enter it at the fair. Evelyn and Sylvia both embroidered their own designs and Gretchen wants to bake a cake. I embroidered something as well, and I plan to enter a few jams. Fingers crossed the girls all get blue ribbons for their efforts!

Total neglect of the garden and yet we are drowning in tomatoes!!  I feel so lucky! The kids love walking up and down the rows filling arms and buckets with tomatoes and bringing them into the house. I love that the girls eat tomatoes out of hand and sometimes they make a feast out of tomatoes for a snack. Peter doesn't quite understand just what is so great about tomatoes just yet, but hopefully, in time, he'll grow to love eating them, too. I don't hold much hope for the onions and the peppers-- the weeds have choked them out. I may be able to dig up a few taters, but I'm just not too sure about them.  I'm already imagining next years garden and I'm thinking this is the year I try for a fall planting for a winter garden.  I'd really like to try cold-weather gardening and see what that's like.

I recently lost a Speckled Sussex hen. She was one of the first 15 and I had only 2 left of the 6 Speckled Sussex I started out with. She wasn't looking so good for a day and I had a bad feeling when I shut the coop that night. Sure enough, the next morning, she was dead. Before Andrew was let go, I was thinking about ordering a batch of chicks. I'm tired of the Red hens and roosters and wanted to have some more colors in my flock, but that'll have to wait now. The Reds are not as friendly as the yellow Buffs and the Speckled Sussexs. They run and scatter when I come near and pretty much the only time I can handle them is when they're settled for the night in the coop. The Buffs and the Speckleds are super friendly and the girls love to hold them and enjoy their feathered company. I'll definitely order more of those two breeds next time.

I still have a bit of corn left from last summer's canning sessions. I hoped to plant corn this year, but that never happened. I hoped to score corn cheap from the food store like I did a few times last year, but it's been pretty pricey all summer long. I still have hope, though! Andrew's friend has a neighbor that recently complained he had too much corn-- eek!! Too much corn?!? How can that be??  I'm trying to get Andrew to talk to the nice man and convince him to sell his surplus of corn to us! After we've eaten our fill, I'll can the rest to enjoy during the cold winter months. Oh.. I hope so! I do love corn!

I think I'm done unloading the brain now. My shoulders feel lighter and my head doesn't hurt so much now. I'll stick to my original time-line and be back after Labor weekend.