The boys and I went up to NY to visit family last week. We had a really great time and just spent a nice long relaxing week doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, almost nothing. Seannan helped his Nana fold the laundry…
The hubby and I have spent the weekend working on the chicken coop together, and while we are really enjoying it and enjoying the time together…we are pooped! I have a new respect for people who do hard manual labor out in the summer heat. Except for the rude construction workers who have been out in front of my house since January, but that’s another story.
I’m a night owl normally, and the last three nights I am whooped by 9:30. Something about the heat just sucks the energy from your body. Anywho, the coop is coming along great. I am really pleased with my design, Travis helped me figure out the roof and the framing of the windows. I couldn’t do this without his help. Pictures to come when we get more done on it.
I have really never been very fond of gardening. I’ve done it, nearly every summer of my adult life because I was raised by a father who always had a garden. Every year. He’s a homesteader and that was how he provided a great deal of what we ate. Mom, for her part tried her hand at gardening many years as well, working with whatever ground was available in our back yard on Watson St. It’s kind of been instilled in me. Around February, when the seed catalogs start coming, I start dreaming of gardens, green, lush gardens full of purple string beans, long slender cucumbers, bright shiny red tomatoes, yellow flowers of my zucchini. You get the idea. What I nearly always ended up with was a weedy mess that I cursed and promptly forgot about, until next spring.
Since moving to PA, my hope was renewed, I figured I was going to make it work come hell or high water. My father in law found us some free topsoil, as our yard is basically shale with a mixture of weeds and crab grass growing over it. He brought it in and dug out a patch and installed the top soil. We quickly found out why it was free, it was loaded with every kind of weed imaginable just waiting to rear their ugly heads every spring. Usually after the garden had been tilled and planted. Red root, dandelions, wild morning glory, you name it, it’s in there. Also, I’m pretty sure it could give concrete a run for it’s money. You have to plant quickly because after a couple of rains this stuff turns to concrete and there is no working it. I am actually amazed to see tiny plants popping up out of this stuff once it’s reached it’s granite like veneer. A testament to the power of germination! I finally got smart last year and threw in the towel. I was expecting our next little addition in June, I was tired of putting in so much time and effort with little to no return, we were done. No garden. Last summer, I blissfully watched my husband mow the “garden” whenever our weeds got too high. This year I planned the same, no garden. I figured we could add our neighbor’s grass clippings and our compost for a year or two and one day we might have some dirt worth growing in.
Well, that was all well and good until our neighbor two doors down stopped by and dropped off a pack of cauliflower and offered to til our garden. That evening as my husband was reading a bedtime story to our toddler he heard a machine in the backyard…our neighbor, tilling the garden. The next evening I came home from Stitch n’ Bitch to find that the vegetable fairy had visited again, this time leaving 2 packs of red cabbage. Okay, fine. The next day I went out to the greenhouse and bought everything I needed and had the entire garden planted in two hours.
And of course, as usual, the weeds came. Something has changed though, the vegetables are doing better this year, but apparently, my thumb has grown a bit greener. I find I am enjoying weeding the garden, laying newspaper and mulching over it. I am up early before the heat in gloves and crummy clothes on my knees in the garden, and most evenings I spend the last bit of daylight pulling weeds until I can’t see if it’s vegetable or weed I’m yanking on. There is something deeply satisfying about wrapping my gloved hand around a clump of weeds and feeling that pull and pop as they wrench free of the dirt. Into the weed bucket they go, and then repeat. Over and over and over and over and over again. And over again. When the wee guy takes a nap and Finny and I go out to play, he does the playing and I grab my gloves and head to the garden. A chore that I once found arduous is now a simple pleasure. I get a lot of thinking done as I weed. I get a lot of catching up with the hubby and the teenager as we weed. As you can see, we are slowly winning the battle.It’s starting to look like a real garden, vegetables and everything.
Then there are the teenagers, oh yes, plural. You can see the peeps are no longer peeps. They are chickens, teenage chickens. They are certainly acting their age too. I have to go and right the waterer at least once a day when they tip it over. You give them a treat and everyone fights over it. They want to stay up past their bedtime, they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. They want to stay out in the rain…hmm, maybe they are more like toddlers. Anyway, we found a new home for the golden sebrights, so now we are down to six birds, Finnigans three standard size fowl, and Elizabeth two Brahma’s and Drumstick, the silkie. I built them a temporary chicken tractor to get them out of the basement…they began migrating once they realized there was no roof to the brooder.
Drumstick has revealed the she is a he, yes a roo. He is on parole. He can stay if he’s a quiet and kind rooster. Any infractions and he’s on Craigslist. Elizabeth is also the owner of a lovely couple, Dave and Annabelle. Yes, another peep has revealed his true nature.
We are keeping both Dave and Annabelle, the Buff Brahma Bantoms. Elizabeth wants to let Annabelle go broody and sell the peeps. They are a lovely couple and very sweet. They might stay in the mini-tractor permanently.
Life with the chickens is fun. They really are such a delight to have around. Finnigan loves to share his snack, whatever it may be, with them. They are much obliged. Annabelle is so quiet and just enjoys sitting in your lap. Everyone else is much harder to catch, but doesn’t mind a good scruffle if you can catch them. The hubby and I started the permanent coop today. I’m actually really surprised at how fast it’s coming together. After much research online I drafted my own design and we are going to have a lovely little coop.
So that’s the news from Lake Wobegon. Erm, wait, no. That’s the news from our wanna be farm.
So, ahem, just a heads up, this post is about this week and a certain wee mans birthday…lots of pictures. I know, ironic isn’t it. *snigger*
First off, a belated birthday celebration. Seannan turned one on June 6th. Yep, one. Seriously? I’m still trying to find time to sit down and write out his birth story. This has been a very hard year for us as a family, but also an incredibly wonderful one thanks very specifically to this dear little boy. Seannan continues to steal my heart, piece by piece. I love his little smile, that’s why I can not pick him up without immediately squishing him. He’s very squishable, really, you can’t resist. I love his personality, quieter than his brother and sister and yet, I have a feeling he isn’t going to take any crap from anyone. Seannan, thanks for being wonderful you, happy birthday squishy, and many, many more.
A pictorial review of the birthday party…
As for this week, wow. I’m tired. We started last Sunday by taking a very unhappy Finn to the walk in, turns out he had an ear infection. Because of his ear infection he missed the first two nights of VBS. The hubby and the teenager helped out at VBS all week. There were lots of late nights and little boys going to bed late. Not entirely fun. Yesterday, I paid off our fuel oil bill, and ordered another 150 gallons…we ran out of fuel last night. I had to bleed the line this morning.
And I leave you with a picture of two adorable siblings snuggling.
So, here’s the thing. One of the problems I have with making new entries into my blog is I feel that I always have to include a picture to make it worth your while for stopping in. I feel that people won’t want to read Cold Coffee, if there aren’t pictures to help tell the story. Honestly, I think it’s bunk, too, I’m a pretty decent writer, I can get my point across and tell the story in a way that you can see it in your head. So, I need to just suck it up and get over it and start writing. There are many moments that happen during my day that I consider blog worthy, but I never blog about them because moments after I think, “Hmm, I need to blog this.” I also think, “Crap, I don’t have my camera.” It’s quite dumb really. Obviously, for things like finished knitting projects etc. a picture will be included, but unlike my crazy talented friend, Casey, my camera is not surgically bonded to my hand. I’m not that talented at capturing a moment with a camera. In my “perfect world” I would have enough money to hire her to follow me around with a camera which would mean our boys would get to hang out more and I would get to spend more time with my bestie and have a slew of incredible photos to choose from to enhance ye ‘ol blog. However, as we know, it’ s not a perfect world and I do know that I am pretty durn’d good at capturing a moment with my words.
So, I’m moving on, some posts will have pictures, some won’t. No biggie.
So right now we are really in a bind financially. We are slowly snowballing into fiscal disaster. We have one of the tightest budgets you will ever find. We don’t have health insurance for ourselves anymore, we just can’t afford it. The kids are all covered and thank God for that. Life is what kills us, our budget works for the most part, so long as none of those little (or hugely disastrously big) expenses comes up and bites us in the butt. That’s the problem though, life comes up every month, and it’s those little expenses that crop up here and there that really kill us. If we get behind on one bill it just snowballs out of control until we are looking at our expenses and wondering how we are ever going to get it under control. The thing is, every time we get back on track, not even ahead, just back on track, something comes along and plows us under and here we go all over again.
Lately we’ve been considering applying for some government assistance. I look at the many programs we qualify for and instead of feeling better I feel sick to my stomach. You head out into life with expectations, plans, goals and sometimes life throws you a curve and instead of ending up in the Coast Guard and working on a degree in marine biology you find yourself blissfully married and living in PA with the three most gorgeous children in the world. Yet, I never expected to be in this place. I never expected to be “this” family. I don’t think we are “that” family, I look at our nice home (which others are amazed that a family of 5 lives there) and the many nice “things” we have in our lives and think, “There is no way we need government assistance.” Yet in stark reality, by the income charts, we are “that” family. Household number of 5, $30,500 a year. The crazy part is I look at the max you can make to receive government assistance and think to myself, “If we made that much we wouldn’t need it!” I never wanted to be here, no one does. Despite friends and family’s encouragement, “It’s just until you get back on your feet.” “It’s the people that exploit the system that give it a bad name, you aren’t like that.” I still feel so…labelled. I don’t even want to call and find out what help we can get. I will, but I hate it.
The thing is, I am happy, and so is my family. I guess I feel like because we are broke, we should be broken. Seannan is turning one on Monday. I have had several inquiries asking what he needs. Nothing. He needs nothing. We have plenty of toys from big brother’s previous birthdays/Christmas, etc. He has a huge wardrobe of clothes from big brother hand-me-downs and Grandma D picking up deals on the clearance rack. And let’s face it, he’s just happy to be loved on, eat his own weight in Cheerios, and play in a card board box. The same can be said for his older brother. Big Sissy is beautiful and creative and talented. I have a husband who I am madly in love with and vice versa. I have so many blessings in my life that I can’t even begin to count them. God has really been so good to me, and to our family as a whole. Sometimes I get so used to the world’s view of our family, that I forget how truly rich we are. Yeah, some of the bills are behind. Sure it’s a challenge and we don’t know how we are going to get over this hill. For us though, trusting that God has a plan to see us through and enjoying the rich blessings He has poured out on us is enough.