Saturday, September 17, 2011

Almost Fall Already?!?

Wow, I can't believe that it is fall/almost fall already.  I'm fighting it tooth and nail as I sit here in my house wearing jeans, a heavy sweatshirt, & flip-flops.  I've known that fall was coming - I've been seeing it for weeks all around me.  Geese and other birds are starting their migration patterns, it's getting darker earlier, and my veggies in the garden aren't producing as much.  I've started to see a bit of color in a few of my trees, the corn has turned brown in the field, and the soybeans are starting to turn golden yellow.  The other sign - opening day of bow season started this past Thursday.  I'm officially a hunting widow till January/February. 

It has been a long time since I posted and in true chaos - what an almost year it has been.  The peace and quiet of late fall and early winter turned into new tasks over the spring & summer.  I stopped by the feed store one very cold & wet March early evening and came home with 8 baby chicks.  I don't know exactly why - but maybe living on a farm and it was spring was what did it.  The following week 2 baby ducks came home from the same feed store - they were so cute.  As they got bigger, I would take them out in the backyard during those warm spring afternoons.  What fun my little one had running around the yard and having 2  baby ducks follow him around.  5 weeks later they outgrew the chick/duck nursery in my root cellar and the new coop was ready for them.  I learned one thing while they were in my cellar - ducks are messy, chickens not so much. 

I also managed to put in a decent size veggie garden between the monsoons of spring.  We had a really wet early spring that played havoc with farmers and gardens alike - if you planted too early, the crops rotted in the field.  If you planted too late, nothing grew as it didn't rain.  Somehow, I managed to plant between the flood and the drought and ended up with a decent garden this year.  I did plant strawberries this spring, but it will be a few years before they will produce enough to use for canning jam.  So one very warm day in May, my youngest and I went to the local farm to pick strawberries.  He had a basket and I had a basket.  I never thought in a million years that he would pick as much as I picked.  When we checked out, we had picked 16 pounds of strawberries.  I made over 21 jars of strawberry jam, we ate a lot of strawberries, and I gave some away.  It made really good jam - I'm already down to my last 6 jars and I've told everyone hands off - I want to save some for those really cold winter mornings.  With my veggie garden and the local farm providing the fruit - my canners have been going pretty good for most of the summer.  My hubby even got used to the extra pots, jars, & lids taking up space in our dinning room (I got tired of pulling it all out when I needed it).  My ultimate goal would be to can & freeze everything we needed for our family for a year and only have to go to the grocery store for cleaning supplies & paper products.  Well, I'm short of that goal by a decent amount.  I'm not worried - this was the year to see how things grew, how much do I need to plant, and what will everyone eat.  I figured it will take me a few more years before I have it down to an exact science.  I thought the planting guide in the back of the Ball Blue Book was a bit overboard on how much to plant for a family of 6.  I have a family of 4, so I made a few adjustments - yep, they are correct and my adjustments were off by a mile.  Although, I did get the quantity of cucumbers correct - no shortage of pickles & relish here.  It is almost time to harvest the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and the last of the carrots.  I will then put my garden to bed for the winter.  At least I can plan over the winter for more veggies to plant in the spring.

The chickens started laying eggs in late summer and one of the ducks is a female and duck eggs started a few weeks ago.  I'm currently getting about 6-7 chicken eggs and 1 duck egg a day right now.  Pretty soon I'll have to turn on their light in the coop so that they will keep producing into the winter.  I'm already planning on getting more chickens this spring, which will also mean that the coop will need an addition.  I hope to sell a few eggs this fall since I'm starting to get more than I can eat and give away.  Next summer, I hope to have a decent amount of eggs to sell - those chickens need to earn their keep, right?

The biggest change is that I'm currently unemployed.  I don't mind, I'd prefer to stay at home and take care of my family and our house.  The house is old(1756) and needs a lot of maintenance and being home allows me to work on it.  However, I need money - so not working for me is not an option.  I'm swimming through the waters of unemployment, job searches, updating resumes, etc... while trying to take care of my family and this small farm.  We'll get by.  It will be tight but we will be fine.  I will say - I hate job interviews.  I've been on a few and they don't get any easier the more that you go on.  I really hate when you never hear back from anyone - I mean really how rude.  The least they could do after 'grilling' me for an hour is to send me an email that says thanks or no thanks.  That's the world we live in and I have to adjust. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ahh... Peace and Quiet...

As quiet as it can get with two kids, three dogs, and a husband.  We're moved and most of the boxes are unpacked (the rest are in the attic - things we don't have a space for yet but we don't want to get rid of)  - just in time to start decorating for Christmas.  This is the first Saturday morning where I could really enjoy the peace and quiet - I'm not unpacking, doing laundry, hanging pictures and having deep discussions about how much stuff we have and where do we put it all.   I'm living in a house built in 1756 aka old, drafty, no closets, and really cute. 
Yesterday, we had snow.  Just enough to make it look pretty and helped to make it feel a little like Christmas.  My youngest, felt the need to go 'play' in the snow.  A bit of a challenge considering that there is only 1/4" of snow on the ground - but he did it.  Put on snow pants, coat, boots, gloves and went out for a grand total of five minutes... it is also a bit cold with temps in the teens and a slight wind chill.  It was so refreshing to watch him enjoy the few minutes outside in the first snow of the season.  It was so much better considering that this year I wasn't screamed at by my grandmother who was convinced that I wasn't a good parent because I let him go outside without, gasp, a hat or even better - he still has his PJ's on under the snow pants - gee in her eyes, I'm going straight to hell.  
Finally, I feel like I can breathe.  I can make decisions about my kids, my life, my pets, etc... without the constant threat of being criticized for my actions/decisions.  I've also noticed that my kids are more relaxed.  We are getting homework completed in the evening without the constant interruptions and confusion of being re-taught a concept completely wrong by grandma and the yelling that I don't know what I'm talking about - my career field is in education, 20+ years experience, and multiple degrees don't account for anything in her eyes.   My kids aren't being yelled at for every little thing that they do.  They are kids - they are going to leave the lights and TV on, they are going to leave a path of clothing and backpacks from the door to their room, they are going to actually play with toys and have them spread out from one end of a room to the other, they will wipe the snot off their face with their sleeve, they will burp & fart, and do a bunch of other disgusting things (I happen to have boys and have heard that it is less disgusting with girls).  I was always amazed at how fast grandma would yell at my kids - she never asked them to pick up their backpacks, toys, etc... it was always demanding and yelling.  Thinking about it - I'm surprised that I'm not a complete mess, living on self-medication or meds, and in therapy three times a week after growing up in that house.
I'm so glad that we are out of there.  I still feel guilty about the decisions I made that for a little over a year had a negative effect on my kids and husband.  I have hope that we are healing emotionally and I can see that we are returning to our state of chaotic normal - remember two boys and three dogs do make for some chaos.   Things are tighter now - we are renting and have no tax benefits, we have a larger electric bill (drafty old house), two boys tend to eat more food than a grocery store stocks, gas is over $3.00 a gallon.  At mid-life I thought I'd be over the hot dogs and beans for dinner, only eating out once in a blue moon, and carefully counting every penny that comes in and goes out.  In spite of it all - I think I'm approaching a state of happiness that I haven't felt in a really long time.  My kids are healthy, I've got a roof over all our heads, and food on the table.  My kids will have a few presents under the tree, and hubby and I both managed to budget a gift or two for each other.  This is more than a lot of families this year will have.  I pray for these families and hope that by some miracle that life will turn around for them.  All I can do is donate where I can, pray, and count my blessings. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Please Stop - I Want to Get Off This Thing Called Life

The last year has been filled with changes.  Some changes I welcomed with open arms and some I went into kicking and screaming.  Moving back into your childhood home, at least for me, came with a large price tag.  I think it would have been a better overall experience if I could check my emotional baggage at the door, unfortunately, no matter how I try - it keeps rearing it's ugly head.  Here is the short film version: my grandfather passed away, my family and I sold & gave away most of our belongings to move in with my grandmother because she can't really be by herself.  Grandma is a control freak.  She trys to control every aspect of our lives - our kids, our pets, our activities.  No matter what we do, nothing is to her liking.  So this is why I want to get off this thing called life for a bit.  My emotions are raging a war inside of me:  I feel guilty for putting my family through all of this, feel guilty for not having 100% patience 100% of the time with grandma, feeling guilty for planning on moving out, and the list goes on.  Bottom line, after today my guilt is gone... please don't judge me and think that I'm a horrible person for 'abandoning' my grandmother.  To be honest - she has a fully grown son and daughter who have 'escaped' taking care of her.  They were breathing a sigh of relief when we moved in - because they didn't have to.  Now they are sweating bullets because push has come to shove and we are moving out.  Somehow it will be all my fault - what they can't handle is that I don't care anymore.  I'm divorcing my family - not my husband and kids - just my side of the family.  They are toxic.  It took me almost 40 years, but I finally realized that it really isn't me afterall, it is them.  They are scared because I'm wrecking the status quo.  I'm beginning to live my life for me and my family - no one else.  They can't handle it because they don't have anyone to control anymore.  It took me a just over a year and moving back into my childhood home to realize that my family is really screwed up and that it has never been my fault.  My grandmother actually screamed at me today - because I wouldn't do something she demanded I do.  She truly believed that she asked me to do something - asking is not where you are speaking in a demeaning tone and waving your finger in my face.  I stood up to her, told her no and to not speak to me that way.  It just went downhill from there.  I remained calm (I think my bottom lip is bleeding from where I bit it), but I did not yell.  I just told her calmly that we were moving out.  That we were taking our dogs (all 3 - she tries to claim 2 of them as hers) and all our stuff and we are moving out.  3.5 months remain till moving day.  Her response - good riddance.  I would like to say that it hurt - but it didn't. I actually feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders - we've been keeping our move a secret till we got closer to the date, but now she knows.  I thought she would be upset - she actually can't wait.  She has been wanting to get rid of me for 39 years - now she will. What I do feel bad about is putting my husband and kids through all of this - we could have stayed in our house and let my mom and uncle deal with my grandmother.  We would still have our little house, our own chaos that comes with mortgages, taxes, employment fears, and raising kids, but it would be our own.  In a few months - we will have that again.  I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to 'fix' this year.  I'm afraid that my kids don't see their great-grandmother the way that they did.  Thank God my husbands parents and their great-grandmother on that side actaully act like grandparents to our kids so they haven't been robbed of having the grandparent experience.  They truly don't see my grandmother or my mother in a grandmother way.  After this year - they don't want to spend time with them either.  I can't say I blaim them.  I thought they would be different with my kids - they weren't raising them after all, so it would have been different, right?  It has been a little different - they don't tear them down emotionally like they did me.  However, my kids stand quietly aside and watch my grandmother and mother tear me apart and wonder what is going on and why.  Today, my oldest was actually crying over the way I was being treated.  My grandmother actually shattered my child's vision of what he thought she was and he saw how mean she could really be.  So, here I am a year later - still moving.  At least this time there aren't fears, anxiety, and worries over it - it will really be okay.  My children, my husband, and I will be okay.  It will be new territory as I will have very little to no contact with my grandmother once we move... time will tell, but I think I'll be better for it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moving... I think? and What Came First?

I think I'm moving. Actually, I know that in a few weeks I will be moving. The problem is that I'm in this holding pattern and it is driving me crazy. Still no drop dead move date which is causing some of the problems. What came first the chicken or the egg? I'm kinda stuck in this chicken & egg thought process but with a moving spin.
I need to pack and get ready to move but I need to live in my house for a few more weeks. The house I'm moving in has had the main beam that supports the 2nd floor fixed (153 year old farm house - somethings got to give at some point) and the re-plastering has been completed. Now the paint is going on the walls and hopefully, new floors next week. However, everything that was in the rooms that needed to be fixed has been moved to other parts of the house. Until I can move that stuff out, I can't prepare those rooms (reorganize/throw out and make room for our stuff) - once the repairs are complete, I have to move all my grandmothers stuff back to it's former home in the house with the exception of the items that used to be in the rooms that we will need to move into - I've got to find new places for her items at the same time leaving room for our stuff (which I still have to make room for.) We are getting rid of most of our stuff.
Now, my own house is a big disorganized, driving me crazy mess. My husband and I have been slowly going through things and donating what we can't/don't use anymore and throwing out stuff no one would want to have. On top of it, I still have to pack, but I can't really pack everything because we still need to live here for a few more weeks. We are getting rid of pretty much everything except our clothes, a few kitchen gadgets, some of the kids toys, my good china, a few knick knacks, and a few pieces of furniture. I'm too old to be sitting on the floor and eating take out off of paper plates for the next few weeks - my kids would love it, my back wouldn't think it to be so great.
So where do I start? I thought about spending all my time at my grandmothers - cleaning out, making her go through stuff she hasn't seen in 50+ years and asking her to get rid of it (it's worth something, or that was mine when I first got married, etc... I can't possibly throw that out it is an antique - someone could fix it up) - please understand that most of this stuff is in her attic, no air conditioning, a few leaks, and the mice have had wonderful homes for the past 40+ years, did I mention she lives on a farm? It's summer, it is hot in the attic, and she is very emotionally attached to everything she has ever had cross the threshold of her house. She is a hoarder - an organized one, but a hoarder. What makes it worse is that she can't see that these things are ruined. Her eyes are bad and when she sees them, she sees what she remembers, not what they actually look like. It is actually heart breaking to see her look at all her old stuff and know that it is no longer any good, but she thinks/remembers it like it was new.
What came first - the chicken or the egg?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Knitting Again... at least when I can and other things.

Finally, I've been able to pick up and begin knitting again. I would love to devote hours on end to knitting and sewing, unfortunately, I have other responsibilities. I can at least curl up for an hour here and there and knit a few rows. I finished one sock and began the other. It is my first attempt at a toe up sock. At first I wasn't sure if I liked it, but as I began the second sock, I do like it. The casting on with double point needles (DPNs) is a lot easier - no twisting of stitches and the best part is you can 'try' on the sock to create a more custom fit. I'm also finding it easier to come up with my own pattern.

This is also the first pair of socks that I'm knitting with my rosewood needles. I did knit part of a sock right after I got them for Christmas. I was itching to use them and they were the same size as the bamboo's I was using to knit up a pair of socks. I think I'm in love with my rosewood needles.

I'm also finishing up an afghan that I began crocheting a few years ago... I'm the queen of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) or as my husband would call it - ADD. I also have three UFO quilts - two of them I'm hand quilting and the third... well, lets just say I pieced it together and need to rip it apart and start over. Lesson learned - I was rushing and didn't pay attention to my seam allowance. In fact it is so out of square, that it is an excellent example of what not to do. I love the pattern and fabric, so I'll spend quite a few hours at some point this summer ripping it apart and trying to salvage it to some degree. In addition to the afghan and the quilts, I started knitting a lace sweater a year ago... it is at least 75% done, but I have a feeling that at this point it will remain at about 75% done for awhile. I will finish these projects and it will take time. At least I'll have something to work on when my kids are old enough to go out with friends on a Saturday night and I can't sleep till they are home.

As I finish up, I'll post pictures. As for life - it is still as chaotic as ever. The farm house will be getting the beam fixed, a new floor in the living room - the current one is 153 years old, so it is time. We just replaced the dryer as the 15+ year old one finally gave out. So I guess it is time to start packing up and preparing to move in. My grandma is looking forward to it and I am too - I just want to get to the part where everything is settled and we can slow down a bit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is this year over yet?

Is this year over yet?!? It just seems like everytime I turn around something else is screwy. It just seems that the past few weeks - crap has hit the fan... Forget about stuff hitting in threes... I'm way over that limit and blew that theory out of the water.
  • structural problems in my grandmother's 150 year old house that will take at least 2 months to fix. Delaying our move - no biggie, I can deal.
  • Getting the bedrooms and attic ready for our move into grandma's is on hold till repairs can be made/completed.
  • a playset that is taking a lot longer to put together than originally thought - I have the sunburn to prove it and great friends that have been helping out - construction workers have a whole new respect from me after that weekend.
  • Two papers due for my classes - my own issue since I've been the one putting them off all semester.
  • Almost $700 dollars in vet bills and I don't' think we are done yet. Who knew dogs can have allergies and mine it seems is also allergic to Benedryl.
  • $700 to fix the AC in our house... and we may need to replace both inside and outside units to the tune of at least $5000 (hope to get a few more years out of the system)
  • My oldest son thought that closing his eyes and riding his bike was a good idea - till he ran into our truck and left a good size dent and scratch... then his brother did the exact same thing with his scooter - he didn't leave a dent or scratch - at least they didn't get hurt. Not sure how much the repair will be. My husband and I are scratching our heads - they are our kids?
  • The dog got into my purse and ate the last of my gum - it's cheaper than cigarettes (I'm an ex-smoker)
  • The dog in the effort of getting to and eating all the gum, also ate my cell phone - that I'm not sure how to replace since I've got another whole year on the contract. It works, but looks really funny. You also have to be careful of where you put your fingers - the glass is cracked - might have to tape that back together so I don't get cut.

At least I can laugh at all of the above... it is the only way I can keep my sanity. It also is very small and I shouldn't be complaining at all. I have no right to complain and this was made clear to me after learning today that a student of mine, an eleven year old is dying of a horrible disease. It is moments like this that make a person realize that it isn't so bad after all and that there are bigger things in life that are more valuable - family. I pray for a miracle for this student and her family. As a parent, I can't begin to imagine what they have had to deal with over the past few years... the hope, the setbacks, etc... To me this is not fair... eleven year olds should be playing on sports teams, having sleep overs, riding roller coasters, and eating pizza till their sides hurt, etc... not fighting for their lives from a disease that has no cure. All I can do is pray.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Party of Five

Party of five... wow, it struck me the other night when we all went to dinner and they called us... our name and party of five. We've been a two, a three, and then a four, but never five (never planned on being a five either) Now, soon, we will be a party of five... husband, kids, my grandmother, and myself. We are in the process of making my grandmother's house ready for the big move this summer. We've purchased a playset for the kids, a basketball hoop for the driveway, paint for one bedroom (it is currently pink and won't work for an almost teenage boy), curtains for one room, etc... It has been an experience of purchasing items, returning items, and having, not trying to be, heated battles over what we like and what can be brought into 'our' (my grandmother's) house. Everything from light fixtures to curtains has been purchased and returned... I think the sales people at Lowe's and Target really don't want to see me ever again - even in tough economic times. My grandmother is having difficulty with the fact that you can no longer purchase without special order and a lot of money, items that would be appropriate to the age of the house (it was built in 1856 - hence the issues over light fixtures) It was okay for her to have put up any old light fixture (that was all we could get, there was a war on you know) but I can't put up a new light fixture (it is very nice - no modern, trendy light). I've been pulling 60 year old wallpaper off walls only to discover a water leak, so painting is on hold so that it can be determined whether the water damage is old or new and proceed with a repair. Guess it could have been worse - we could have been moved in already and I could have finished painting. There is also a question about the stability of the floor (I really don't want to think about that just yet - I'll pray that we'll be safe until it can be fixed - although that may require the floor to be removed and replaced... not in the current budget - it has to get us at least a year) At least the toliet and the sink in the bathroom that four of us will be using will be replaced next week. I'm excited about the minor update to a bathroom that hasn't changed (wallpaper & paint included) since 1945. I'm just glad the tub is white and not pink or green. The boys have been told that even though the box on the new toliet says that you can flush a bucket of golf balls, to please not flush a bucket of golf balls. (I think they were considering it for a minute or two)
It is also apparent over the last few weeks that as much as my grandmother thinks that she can still live on her own, although she doesn't want to, that she can't live on her own any longer. She is having great difficulty seeing, tends to forget small items(like a pot on the stove), and freaks out with movie star drama over a bill that came in the mail. The sooner she has us there the better for her - the challenge will be for us to be patient and understanding while continuing to maintain our routine, lifestyle, and discipline with our kids all while living under 'our' (her) roof. Party of five - your table is almost ready.