Monday, July 25, 2011

Catching up again

I'm so bad. I know I stink at blogging these days. I think I'm still recovering from the hoopla of the last 8 months, and the truth is that its not over yet. We're on the other side of the valley, but its all up hill from here. I promised that I would make this blog more real, and I think I've been afraid to do that... people don't like to read blogs about hardship most of the time. While my life isn't all hardship, its a struggle right now, and as it ebbs and flows, there are often some big things going on that are hard to deal with. There is a balance with the joys, I won't deny that... but I get tired of trying to find those slivers of joy to share and pretend like everything else is just fine.

We're poor. That's just the truth right now. Yes, there are others who are far worse off than we are, and I try to keep my complaining to a minimum because if the last 8 months have taught me anything, its that I have a lot to be thankful for.

That said, things are tough, and there are times where it just feels like EVERYTHING is a struggle. We have one car, and have to make every dollar we have stretch beyond any level of comfort just to be able to make that car payment. In a year and a half we'll have it paid off and then it is ours. For now though we have to find a way to make it work, and since hubby is stuck with a company that is notorious for not hiring on their temp employees for years, we're really struggling. They pay JUST over minimum wage, and if it weren't for his overtime, we would lose everything.

We get our food from the food bank, because otherwise we couldn't afford to eat. On that note, I am so thankful that we have such a good food bank here. I know most places aren't as lucky as we have been with our food bank. If you have a chance to donate to your local food bank, please do so. It helps so many families who otherwise wouldn't have something to eat. I hope to be able to give back to our local food bank someday when things get better for us.

Bear in mind that I am not trying to do a "woe-is-me" post, or ask anyone for ANYTHING. I am just tired of the pretenses of pretending like everything is martha-stewart-dandy because that's the accepted status quo. How many of you have struggled and found yourselves in really tight spots financially?

I can't help that this is where we are. Kev has been applying for job after job after job but there isn't much here locally that pays more than minimum wage or offers the amount of overtime he's getting now. As for me, if I could get a job right now I would, but I have to stay home with Abbi. Even during the school year, I only have 4 hours a day that I can work, and that is assuming that Abbi does not have a half day, get sick, or go on any kind of school vacation, and also assumes that I can find transportation to work with Kev taking the van to work at 3am and not home again until 5pm (there is no public transit this far out other than taxi's and that undoes the whole point of working 4 hours a day).

I am making everything I can to sell, we sold off a lot of our stuff to try to help make ends meet, and I am doing as much as possible to make the dollars we do have streeeeeeeetch. I make our own dishwashing detergent, laundry soap, shampoo, hand soap, etc. I make clothes for the girls to wear to school. I mend what we have already to make it last. I create frugal meals as much as possible, and feed my family with as much nutrition as I can given the ingredients we have on hand.

We have figured out how to have fun and do things as a family that don't cost anything and we still lead a fulfilling life with many many joys. I'm not unhappy with my life at all. I just wish it wasn't such a struggle to work the mechanics of it. We are willing to work for our success... we just need a chance to do so.

Now, I know (or at least have hope) that we won't always be in this position. We worked our way up into a place of comfort before, and I know we can do it again. It will just take time, and a lot of effort. In the mean time I am trying to keep my chin up about it, and focus on all the things we do have, and that we can do... and all the things that are not impacted by money at all, like friendships, creativity, writing, going for walks, playing with the kids, reading, etc.

I think a big part of what I needed to say here, is that while it has been hard to find things to post about lately that wouldn't sound too doomsdayish, I do lead a full life, even if our pockets are empty. I hope to share more of that with you all soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Thought I would share a quick tip that I love to do around here to make the house smell like cozy deliciousness. After I eat an apple or an orange, I take the peel (and core if its an apple) and throw it into a sauce pan with a little water, some cinnamon, and some whole cloves. I pick up those spices at the Dollar Tree, so the whole thing is uber frugal.

Next, set your stove to simmer, and let it cook down a bit. You can keep it simmering for as long as you want. You will want to turn it off at night or when you are away, of course, but it will keep on the stove for several days.

Yummm. Can you smell it yet?

You can also set it up in your crock pot for an incredibly low-maintenance version! This is a much cheaper way to make your home smell amazing than expensive candles or air freshener. It is all natural, and won't leave any unwanted chemicals floating through the air, and is also completely bio-degradable. Throw it right into the compost bin when you're finished.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ready to Give Up

Does anyone else ever dream of giving up on "all this" and moving toward a simpler lifestyle? I mean doing away with everything you can that has to do with modern society and just diving in to live a simpler life. Of course, I wouldn't give up the few conveniences that are important to our health, daily happiness, or that make the most out of the time we have so we can spend it doing important things (like air conditioning, internet, medicine, etc). I think I'm just tired of the complexity of modern life.

A lot of it comes from being faced with the feelings and pressures of using this or that modern convenience for cleaning/driving/computers/photography/whatever, and feeling a tinge of guilt every time I have to tell someone, "No, we don't have that because we can't afford it."

The truth is that even if we can afford it, often I would rather put our money where it makes the most difference for us, rather than on small conveniences. One example would be a garden. I tried to garden this year, but something happened and all my seedlings disappeared. I suspect some wild creatures had quite a feast on them. I'm going to try to replant, but it may be a bit late in the season. We will see.

A big change like what I envision would include having a store of food that I know would get us through any hard times. We would have alternative sources for things like heat (such as a fireplace), and light (candles, lanterns). We would work to find and make as much for our family as possible, and focus on quality instead of quantity. We could work with our hands to help bring in income instead of working at jobs that don't make sense to our personal lives and pay next to nothing. We would work on trade with others of like mind, in addition to making as much as we could with our own creations. Our focus would be on our connection to our own lives, and those around us, including the environment in which we lived.

When I think of making a big life change, like moving toward a more sustainable, simple lifestyle, I think not only of what life would be like, but what I would be so happy to be doing without. Debt is a big one, and while we haven't taken on any new debt in years, we are still struggling to pay off the stupid decisions of our youth. Granted, some of it was due to emergency, or what we felt was necessary at the time. Still, life makes it difficult to "catch up." Even though I'm still technically in my twenties, the road seems so long ahead of me that I often feel like the destination to be debt free is beyond our reach, especially when things like car repairs, unemployment, and the need to buy expensive medication come into play.

I don't think there's any real "ideal" way of living, but I think each person here on this earth has somewhere in life that they best "fit." For me, I think I fit into a much simpler lifestyle, filled with the satisfaction of hard work, nature, my family, and a job well done. It would be one that leaves me feeling fulfilled, and purposeful. I would feel like life was abundant instead of lacking, as I often feel trying to fit into "modern society." I do know that abundance comes from within, but the fact remains that everything around us these days says otherwise, and even the strongest among us can feel beaten down from time to time.

Anyhow, I dream of this "other life" and hope someday that we can attain it. I'm trying to make small changes every day that lead us in that direction. Today I'm just wishing I could flip the switch and be there.

Do you ever feel this way, too?

Friday, June 17, 2011

What If...

I spend a good amount of time every day at home. Especially right now, without a working vehicle, and Abbi-girl keeping me company all summer, I really can't leave the house. That means I have a lot of time on my hands. Most of the time I find that as I'm sitting, or cleaning, or crafting, I stew. I stew on the fact that since I can't leave the house due to lack of transportation and help with Abbi, I am not able to do something right now to help our family financially, and we really REALLY need it. I feel like life is in a holding pattern, and I'm just waiting for the next big phase to move us forward, yet it is nowhere in sight. I stew about the bills that keep piling up, and the feeling of helplessness as I file them away, not knowing how they're going to get paid.

Obviously, just stewing isn't working for me. But the fact remains that the situation just is what it is. It stinks, but right now I can't do anything about it.

So, I got to thinking today. What CAN I do? What if I spent the time that i have here, doing something that might lead me to another phase eventually? There are lots of things that I enjoy doing. I have at least a dozen hobbies I could do something with. Some may be profitable. Some may be more for my own fun. I have plenty of supplies, ideas, and inspiration to keep me going.

(quote and image from Pintrest)

My mom went back to school when I was a teenager, because she saw time passing by and realized how much she wanted to reach her own goals, that seemed so very far away. She woke up one morning and realized that "time was passing anyway," as she told me, and decided to jump in with both feet, making the most of that time. She is now almost finished with her doctorate and is a professor of Sociology at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and is working on opening a charter school in Harlem. Oh the lessons mom continues to teach me even as a nearly-30-year-old woman.

What I thought I might do is focus on my writing goals. I worked for a writing and publishing company for 9 years, and would love to turn that experience into something that can work for me in the future as well. I have an opportunity right now to devote time to goals that I wouldn't have if I were working a traditional job, and as mom says, "time is passing anyway." Now is the time to take advantage of that, and strive to possibly even turn it into a full time job, someday. One can hope!

Do you ever think about what you could be doing today to better prepare yourself for the future you want? Do you have any lofty "someday" goals that you could be working toward?

What if you asked yourself, what if?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moving On

Wanted to share some of my favorite photos from a shoot I did of Anna shortly after we moved back here to Arizona. I didn't realize it at the time, but the pictures are fairly indicative of what life was like for our little family. It was incredibly difficult to leave our home in Texas, and relocate to Arizona. In many ways it felt like we were alone, and things were never going to get better. Over time things have slowly improved, though we continue to heal the internal wounds. We have spent a lot of time and energy struggling to get back on our feet as a family from the ground up, and have somehow managed to grow closer together through it all. Small as she is, Anna has been amazing every step of the way, pushing me forward, and reminding me of what it means to be a family.

New Beginnings

First, a quick throw back to the old blog, located here. Feel free to go visit anytime to view old posts, until I can figure out how to move the archives over here. I'll try to get to that asap, promise. :)

I know this post has been a long time coming, and truthfully I've been dreading it. I haven't really known how to just chime in and say, "Hey sorry I totally abandoned the blog and the message board and all my friends and members!" Yeah... I pretty much suck for that one. I will say that it has been a trying 8 months, a marriage flipped upside down, adventures of living with friends, and starting over fresh in so many ways. There has been heartbreak and there has been joy. There has been hurt and there has been healing. A lot has happened. Its life. It is up, and down, front, then back. That's part of why this whole "Reclaiming" thing is so ingrained into me. It all circles around and I just start over again, making it work... making it mine.

One thing I have had to face very seriously is that there is no magic "arrival" to that perfect home and family, or that perfect sense of self. Life is imperfect. Bad things happen, and often to good people. Things don't work out how you envisioned them. Plans change and you have to adjust and move forward anyway. That's what reclaiming is all about.

Maybe someday when I've lived a long life and learned all the lessons I came to this earth to learn, there will be some sense of right in the whole of the world. For now I'm just working on navigating my way through the muck and cleaning it off from time to time, as we try to make our way.

This is a particular time of Reclaiming for me, and I am so anxious to get back to blogging and interacting with the community of bloggers and friends I love so much. I want to share more of myself on the blog than I have before, from my dreams and goals to the daily goings on around here. I'll share creative endeavors, inspirations, and my general thoughts and feelings about homemaking, life, and who knows what else may escape this wacky head of mine. It is going to be real, and quirky, and hopefully a little fun.

Thanks for sticking with me. :)

Why don't you all help me kick this off by telling me the most important thing that has happened in your life during the last 6 months? I've been so out of the loop, and there's nothing quite as therapeutic and wonderful as connecting with other people.

Happy 9th Birthday Abbi-Girl!

Today my beautiful Abbi girl turns 9! I can't believe how big she is getting and how much she has changed over the past few years.

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We took her to Morgan's Wonderland, a theme park here in San Antonio built specifically for individuals like Abbi who have special needs. Her favorite ride was the Merri-Go-Round. It was so amazing to get to see her be so free and enjoy doing whatever she wanted to do. What a gift it was for all of us, especially her.

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These are the moments I will always hold in my heart, and will never fade away.

Happy Birthday Abbi girl! We love you more than words can express!