My family's journey down the road less traveled....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My new name is Elastigirl....

I've been stretched so much these past few weeks I am donning myself Elastigirl!!! While I'm good at putting on a show to the world, saying the right things, smiling at the right moments, I've been a wreck inside. With Michael's job loss and the overwhelming lack of new potential out there at the moment we've been struggling, really struggling.

Months before all of this we'd been working with our bank on a home modification and like all big business...kept getting the run-around. Lost paperwork, misplaced documents and one out right screw-up of we shredded your paperwork by mistake!! It had gotten to the point that we were scheduled for mediation at the courthouse on Tuesday at 3pm. Monday afternoon I made one last hail Mary attempt to resolve the situation and again received the run around about the bank needing the same paperwork they already had, yet again.

Defeated and just plain sad, I told the gentleman on the phone that I appreciated his help but that time had run out for us. I wished him a very Merry Christmas and hung up the phone. Fast forward to Tuesday morning when I receive a call for the above mentioned gentleman now dubbed Hero!! He hand delivered our paperwork to the authorization department and we were approved. All they needed was a copy of 3 pages with a current date and signature. Done and done! Our last hurdle was a phone call to come in sometime that day from the Trial Plan department with the specifics on our new payment.

I'm going to pause in this story to remind you all of something I'd forgotten while wrapped up in the angst of all of this. God is NEVER late and rarely early. Easy to forget when your stomach is in knots and you often sneak off to the bathroom in the middle of the day to cry. I know many families are in this exact same position. Jobless, facing foreclosure and being forsaken by the banks for a buck. It makes it all the worse when you learn the housing crisis was a planned, calculated event. I digress...

Okay, now where was I? Oh yeah...Tuesday at 1:48pm, I received the call from the bank with our official approval. Trial plan runs from January to March, payments reduced by $300, interest rate lowered to a whopping 2.25% and our pay-off date didn't change. 1 hour and 12 minutes to spare. Mediation was canceled and the foreclosure process stopped. God is NEVER late and rarely early.

I know there are still hurdles to overcome in this mess. Michael still needs to find a job but now that the depression and fear of being homeless is off his shoulders he is attacking that obstacle with full force. We're not free and clear just yet but I know with this renewal of faith and sheer determination to make sure this blessing is not wasted, we'll make it.

"...with God, all things are possible." Mathew 19:26


Monday, November 15, 2010

Bending so I don't break....

I can rationalize that change can be for the good in my life but try telling that to my emotions. We've been going through a tough time since Michael lost his job in early October. Manufacturing in Ohio has dried up and with an excessive of new college grads with drafting skills and the willingness to work for migrant worker pay, there aren't many options left. One upside to the downsize was an immediate improvement in Michael's overall attitude towards life. No longer beholden to a bully of a boss and the confining 9-5 schedule he once again saw the world as his oyster. He took a few days to re-group and we discussed where we go from here. Return to manual labor in a shop, try and compete as a drafter, start a new business, and the last ditch idea....prostitution! Obviously, the latter wasn't a viable option...Michael refused to wear a skirt and heels!!

Joking aside, this situation has greatly impacted all of us. While I am know for my thriftiness, I had to become even more creative. Gone are the days of loading up the grocery buggy with extra treats for the kids. I am happy to report that our monthly grocery bill, which includes cleaners, paper products, health and beauty items plus dog food, has dropped from $450 a month to close to $300 per month!! Not too shabby for a family of 5 with a German Shepherd puppy who spends his day eating. The kids have learned to cut back as well. The girls are no longer buying lunch one a week which shaves off $20 from our expenses. We've luckily found activities for each of them that require little to no cost and even planned Grace's ice skating and slumber party for under $20. I'm even looking at my receipts for Thanksgiving dinner and I'm under $30 for 18 people. Yes, it's a potluck but I'm providing the turkey and most of the side dishes!! Thank you garden and grocery store sales!!

Thanking my lucky stars we has subscribed to the Dave Ramsey debt free model and had a saving cushion. With that we've been able to develop a workable plan and start up a new business. Diamond Clear Headlight Restoration. Thanks to Michael's father, we have the tools and techniques to really make it viable. We're starting off in the absolute worst season but I fully believe and have faith that it'll take off.

Our divergence has taken yet another fork in the path...I'm a little trepidacious but KNOW we'll be alright. After all, when one door closes another opens and leads to a new adventure!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Time flies when you work too much....

This summer went by like a blur and I didn't get to enjoy it. I vividly remember summers as a kid where your toughest decision was orange or cherry popsicle. Due to the circumstances of life and the economy, I spend my summer working 7 days a week at the Lutheran Memorial Camp. They run a summer camp program for kids and offer a way of connecting with God via nature as well as teaching environmental education. Great program, great location, great people. Unfortunately, this took me away from my garden, which suffered greatly. After working long days/nights in extreme heat on my feet (hey, that rhymed!!) I was in no mood or condition to get back out in the heat to weed and prune. My bounty this year is very embarrassing: 3 quarts of pickles, 12 quarts of apple sauce, 1 gallon bag of sunflower seeds, 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, 5 pounds of sweet potatoes, 4 cups of frozen sweet peppers, 3 quarts of dried beans, 1 pint of dried cherries and 12 half-pints of peach butter. We had a nasty wind storm that blew over my corn...tried to save it but with such shallow roots it was a lost cause. My tomatoes were amazingly abundant this year but due to a lack of pruning they resembled a jungle!!! There's always next year!!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

What's at the end of your rainbow?

Weird weather Ohio has been serving up lately. We've had temperatures running 15-20 degrees above normal and lots of sunshine!! I'm by no means complaining, just remarking. My ideal growing conditions are 75-85 degrees with as much sun as possible. Keeping in mind this is Ohio, if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute or two....Last night a few storms rolled through bringing that wonderful rain my garden needs to grow. It also brought tons of lightening and a beautiful double rainbow. The family and I stood on the back deck and watched the show. The piece de resistance was seeing where the rainbow ended in the woods and watching a small herd of deer that seemed to appear from it's end and walk off into the field!! Our theory was that due to the economy and low price of gold, the leprechaun decided venison was the prize to stash at the end of a rainbow!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Pie anyone??

That pesky little guy Stress has been an unwelcome house guest here at Casa de Patrick for longer than he should have. That old adage about house guest and fish smelling after three days is definitely true....we were bordering on 6 months with him and I had to fumigate!!!

However, all good things come to those who wait and in my case, keep the faith. It helps relieve my stress when nature helps me out with a beautiful cherry harvest!! Not sure if luck is on my side or if my hungry little velociraptors just ate their weight in bugs, but I've lost less than 5% of these gorgeous babies to worms!! Compared to the past 2 years where we only harvested a few cupfuls. This is just what we got from picking this morning, I need to get Tall Man out there on a ladder tonight to pick what we munchkins couldn't reach!! Life is good and just getting better!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grow Baby Grow...

Not bad for a few hours work...

Five-8' x 4' raised garden beds-ready for dirt and plants tomorrow.

Cherry and apple trees are doing remarkably well this year..bees did their job pollinating so fingers crossed we don't have any freak acts of nature that will diminish my harvest this year!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Caught up in the moment....

Had a freak out moment over the past week or beat the crap outta me in the octagon.
I'm better now, at least better than I was and getting back to damn near perfect!!

The depression from the stress and this awful medication means I haven't even started on my gardens. Shameful, I know. Thanks to a swift kick in the pants and a lot of prayer I'm back on my feet and WILL have the gardens finished by this weekend. Mikey has graciously offered to help, how much he's going to be able to do with his bad shoulder is questionable, but his offer to help is as much a catalyst as anything.

I've got Roma tomato seedlings, several variety of sweet peppers, spinach, broccoli, celery, basil, oregano, pinto and black beans, corn, lettuces, onion and sweet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes waiting to be planted. Late start be damned....I have faith (or delusions) that this year's harvest will out shine all the others!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

We have babies!!!

The best way to learn is to do, so I did...or at least tried. I purchased 12 Americana chicken eggs and 6 Bourbon Red turkey eggs to hatch this spring. A kind and generous friend lent me her incubator and I was off. The kids and I spend many a night candling the eggs and weeding out the obvious duds. It was very educational all around and one night we even saw movement in one of the chicken eggs!!

This past week was hatch week so we've been on eggshells (sorry for the pun), waiting for zips and pips. Thankfully we were not disappointed. Our hatch was smaller than I'd hoped for but not too bad for a first-timer. We welcomed 7 chickens and 1 turkey into our family!!

The whole point to all of this is less reliance on store bought food. I like knowing where my food has come from and having a hand in the high quality. It's also cost effective due to the high price of organic foods on the market. Next step in our educational process is the Whizbang Chicken Plucker! Sounds awful but it's the best thing going right now for processing your own chickens.

The seedlings for my garden are emerging in the mini-greenhouse I built and fingers crossed, I can get a load of topsoil delivered this week and will put my raised bed gardens together. Frost dates in this part of Ohio are second week of May so I have a few weeks yet but hate waiting till the last minute!!

With the apple and cherry tree in full bloom my spring plans also include the revamping of our sad, little pantry to help accommodate all the applesauce and cherry preserves we'll have.

Until next time...

Monday, April 12, 2010

My pet made my breakfast...

This folks, is breakfast perfection.....

One fresh, still warm egg from the coop, fried and served on homemade artisan bread. Doesn't get any better than this!!!

Special thank you to the lovely and talented Ella for producing such a gorgeous egg to begin with...yes, my pet made my breakfast.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New beginnings....

Not to scare you and cause a mass exodus to the hills with shouts in horror and fear, but I'm back. I've revamped the blog a little and chosen a catchy new title inspired by the great poet Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
His words speak to me and inspire me, and the whole family for that matter, to take that lesser traveled path in life. Michael and I have worked very hard to set ourselves apart from the masses by sticking to our principals and making sure we know why we believe what we believe and teaching that core value system to our children.
In light of these turbulent political times our family is working towards a goal of becoming more self-sufficient. This spring and summer we will be building our garden up to make it more productive and hopefully less maintenance with the addition many raised beds. We are also working towards obtaining several dairy goats which will provide our family with milk, cheese and yogurt. Our hen house will become a little more crowded in the next several months as the turkey and chicken eggs hatch. With the addition if a Whizbang Chicken Plucker that Mikey is so graciously going to build me, we'll have a fresh supply of homegrown meat too. My grand plans for our little 2 acre homestead include a new and better compost bin, rain water collection barrels, solar panels and hopefully a wind turbine!!
I hope you all will follow us on our journey down the less traveled path. It's sure to be filled with bumps, setbacks, heartaches and hopefully a lot of laughter and will make all the difference!!!