What I’m Into: July 2015

This summer has been a weird one, but here’s what our family has been into this past month or so:

*Granite Flats. We happened upon this on Netflix in late June and decided to watch the first episode one night as a family. My kids were immediately hooked! They have since worked their way through the first three seasons. It is about a group of kid detectives in the Cold War era. Granite Flats is a very clean show, which is definitely refreshing for this Mama. WAY too many things out there that are not fit for consumption!

*Reorganizing our house. We started with our kids’ rooms and are working our way through the rest of the place–our basement and garage definitely need it!! Some Ikea shelving, like these cubby systems pictured above, have worked wonders in the kid bedrooms and corral all their clothes, books, and other stuff. They eliminated the need for dressers, which I was more than happy to ditch. (Actually, they have been repurposed for storage in the basement.)

*The Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques. Though my older boys discovered this series a few years ago, my younger ones have started to enjoy them just this year, along with my daughter. I have read a few and like them as well. One nice thing about this series is that you don’t have to read them in order. Each one stands on its own and has its own set of characters.

*Veggies! Our garden has done well and we have eaten many a meal from it. Having so much fresh produce available is such a blessing.

*Camp, camp, and more camp. Everyone has now attended camp this summer and they all really love it. My oldest son has even worked at a nearby summer camp for the first time. He just turned 14, so this year it is a volunteer job, but next year he would be a paid employee. I can’t tell you how great of an experience it is been for this kid. (Plus he now has a very cool nickname given to him by co-workers. Bond, since he shares a name with the most recent James Bond actor. I think he is quite proud of it.)

For those of you who have reservations about sending kids to camp, I will tell you from our experience that it is SO worth it.

My daughter sitting in on a Bible lesson at her camp.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope your summer has been a refreshing one!

Rachel

It’s In the Bag

As promised at the end of my “9 out of 10” post, here’s the less serious version of what happened to my poor dear husband. Not that I’m making light of him losing a body part, because it’s really not funny, but sometimes you just have to laugh instead of cry!

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July 3rd was looking to be a busy but fun day. I had plans to hit a giant yard sale with some of my kids (2 were at camp that week) and my Mom, go out to lunch with them, then swim at my neighbor’s pool in the afternoon. Parts one and two of that plan went great. We got home after lunch and were surprised to see that my husband had gotten out of work early, partly because it was Friday and partly because it was the day before a holiday. I got the kids ready for the pool, said bye to my Mom, and headed towards my neighbor Erin’s house, which is two doors down from us. Jeff was going to mow the yard while we were there, which was quite fine by me. I remember that he even gave me a little whistle as I walked past and I smiled and waved goodbye.
Fast forward about 15 minutes max. Erin and I were chit chatting while the kids swam. I happened to glance over and see my husband and our dog walking across her yard with what appeared to be something in his arms. I was honestly confused. You may think I’m an idiot, but for a second or two I actually thought he may have had some kind of food wrapped up and was bringing it over. As he got closer, I could see dish towels from my kitchen wrapped around his one hand and forearm, using his other hand and arm to support it. Also, there was a troubled expression on his face that I picked up on. That got my attention for sure.
“Is everything okay?” I asked him as he got close to her deck. (Note–he was not a bit pale or sweaty looking or anything too alarming at this point.)
He shook his head and quietly said, “No, I’m not. You need to drive me to the emergency room.” This is the same man who didn’t even raise help years back when he was having a stinking stroke, so for him to say this meant something was serious! Erin told me to go and that she would watch the kids. I got myself out of there without even saying goodbye to my kids and ushered him towards our yard. As we got out of earshot, I asked if he had cut himself on the mower.
His answer was, “Yeah, I took a chunk of my finger off.”
Um, okay. “Do you mean like it’s a bad cut or like you cut the end of it off?”
“It’s off. I already put it in a bag with ice. Maybe they can reattach it.” Big gasp from me.
Okay, this is like seriously serious. Y’all, if you didn’t know this man was tough, get this—he gets his finger literally ripped off on a mower belt, then picks it up, takes it in the house, cleans himself up, and puts said digit in a ziploc bag with ice. Oh yeah, then calmly wraps everything up and walks over to the neighbor’s yard to get his oblivious wife. Holy Smokes. I think if the situation were reversed someone would have had to peel me off the grass.
So on we go, driving calmly (NOT!) to the ER, which on a good day may take 35-40 minutes or more. Okay, I was sorta calm, but only because he was calm. I did keep asking stuid questions like “Are you doing alright?” and “Are you in much pain?” pretty much off and on the entire trip. All this while simaltaneously gripping the steering wheel and trying not to flip out. Oh yes, and did I mention it was a Friday afternoon, the day before a holiday? So yeah, there was definitely extra traffic all over the place. Along with my dumb questions I kept apologizing 50 gazillion times for not getting there faster.
Bless his heart though. He kept saying “It’s not your fault Rachel. We’ll get there when we get there. Just keep driving.” All while looking eerily calm and clutching a wrapped mangled hand to his chest. And gripping a dishtowel-covered ziploc bag with a severed finger on ice. He assured me that there was not much pain yet.
We finally reached Lancaster City and I was anxious to just get to the hospital and get him looked at. Well, my plans were thwarted by a young Hispanic dude riding a horse down the middle of the street (you can’t even make something like this up!!), exactly in a section where it was impossible to pass. I’m not sure what the heck this person was doing, but he was enjoying himself, smiling and waving at everyone on the sidewalks. He even had a carload of friends behind with their fourways on and music bumping. Let’s just say I was not amused!!
Finally I was able to pass the “parade” and zip to the hospital. Thankfully we got close parking and the ER waiting room was not packed. We checked in and they got us to a triage room fairly quickly. In both cases they ask what the issue is. Both times my humble husband downplayed his injury, acting like it was merely a cut.
Friends, this was not the time to downplay an injury. I cut in and played Mrs. Patient Advocate. For the one lady who was asking him I had to quietly lean in and say, “What he means is the finger is not attached. It’s in a bag.” Oooohhh….that definitely got more of a response than a mere cut. It also got us in next instead of having to wait awhile. She peeked at the injury, then dialed someone up right away and we were ushered back almost immediately.
The next few hours were mostly waiting in a little exam room, first with various people assessing things and then pursuing whether or not to try to get someone to reattach it. Time was ticking quite slowly and we were trying to get used to the idea that he was going to be minus a finger for life. When first examined, they took x-rays of the stump and what was left, so during this time I had quickly hopped on Facebook via my phone app and threw out a prayer request. Friends, I can tell you that we really felt those prayers and had such calm and sense of peace about what happened and what was to come. We also had a few chuckles already and I even jokingly called him Stumpy once.
Dinnertime was then upon us and a very wonderful nurse who was taking care of him offered to get us something to eat. So we had a little box dinner brought for us and we had a bite together. We prayed and as we were eating, I got the giggles as I thought about our situation.
“What are you cracking up for?” he asked with a grin.
“Well babe, we’re having quite the hot date here, aren’t we? We’re in a little emergency room together, no kids, hunched over eating a boxed sandwich dinner, your hand wrapped in my bloody dish towels….all with your finger lurking in a bag not two feet away.” (Note: Said bag was also covered in one of my dish towels. They eventually ended up in the hospital waste as I was not about to bring them home and use them ever!! Also, for the curious, I did see everything, and praise God I did not get light headed and was fine.)
We both laughed together and our nurse walked in to us cracking up and kissing. She said that not everyone in that situation would be laughing right now and she was glad we could joke about it already. There were several laughs before this happened and many more since. So you don’t think me cold and unfeeling, I did have a sad little cry about it when I got home later that night. I had left him in the hospital overnight on IV’s and awaiting a surgery the next morning to in fact cut off more bone and stitch the skin up over everything. The reality set in more by that time I guess.

Though there have been many serious and not-so-fun moments since, but there has also been laughter and a sense of peace like I mentioned earlier. We are thankful that the mower belt didn’t take off more digits or his hand, and also that it happened on the non-dominant side. We acknowledge that it must have happened for a reason, even if we can’t see it yet. If anything, it has given us lots of time as a family and brought us closer as a couple. I think of this each night as I re-dress the stump.

To wrap up, I will share just a couple of funny things that have happened since the accident:

*Jeff got a random text from a former co-worker who he hadn’t seen in a long time, but apparently had heard about him through the grapevine. It read something like this–“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Your new Russian name is Cutachunkov.”  Yes, Cutachunkov. Read it out loud and you’ll get it.

*One of my 7 year old nieces made him a Get Well card. This is what it says: “Do not cut your finger again because if I see it I will faint.”

*Jeff ran into a teenaged son of a family we know a little, but hadn’t heard about the finger yet. This boy saw his hand wrapped up, but obviously didn’t look closely at it as you can tell that something is missing. This kid knows Jeff is a butcher, so he jokingly piped up, “What’d you do, cut a finger off?”

“Actually, yeah, I did,” was his response. Oh my, this poor kid felt horrible then and kept apologizing over and over to Jeff! My husband laughed and told him not to feel bad.

So you see, we’ve had our laughs, along with a wide range of other emotions. Also, many thanks to those who have been praying for him and for our family. It’s been a rough year, but God is good and I know He is with us in each step!

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments + A God Story

My life has been a little topsy turvy lately, so I am way off in sharing what I call my “frugal accomplishments.”

It has been one heck of an expensive year for this family, all with unforeseen crazy things that have cropped up. Therefore, instead of despairing, I am trying to be thankful that we have been careful with finances and have some savings to cover unexpected expenses.

So, in keeping with my frugal mindset more than ever, here are the latest money saving things to happen here….

*Had several people bless & surprise us with meals right after Jeff’s accident. (If you are one of those people, thank you!!)

*I’ve been able to hang out laundry most days.

*I keep washing out ziploc bags, drying them, and reusing them, as long as they are in good shape. (Not any that contain meat products–I do throw those out right away.)

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*I found these cool vintage burlap feed sacks at a yard sale for pretty cheap. I would love to try using them in some projects and plan to start with re-covering a stool top with the design portion of one of them.

*Haven’t had to do any big grocery runs in a couple of weeks.

*We have picked beets, sweet corn, onions, cucumbers, squash, blueberries, and green beans out of our garden. I blanched and froze many, many bags of the beans this past weekend. I also froze some blueberries.

*My boys foraged around for some wineberries last week. We ate some and the rest I made into jelly. I had also made some black raspberry jelly a couple weeks back, plus some black raspberry/grape blend jelly. Yum.

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*Sold this rag rug that I had made on Ebay.

*Before his accident, my husband brought me a really nice Pampered Chef glass baking dish with a snap-on lid. It had been sitting around his work lunch area for awhile with no one to claim it, so it was free to a good home!

*Used zucchini from the garden to make Chocolate Zucchini bread. It was the bomb.

*This probably sounds awful, but since my oldest has been working and mostly living at a camp, I haven’t had to feed him much or do his laundry (they make him do his own wash there, so thank you camp people!) this summer. Seriously, with how much he eats, it’s like they’re paying me;)

*Speaking of my oldest son, he is headed to a camp in Virginia next week that is offering a “Mountain Man” outpost. He doesn’t need to pack that much, but needed a couple of specific items to wear. I scored two pairs of Carhartt beige work pants for an amazing $9.99 each off of a clearance rack. That’s like an absolute steal for Carhartt products (local people, FYI, it was at Good’s store). Then my husband took him to Outback Trading to find a certain style of hat for this Mountain man thing. I am proud to say that they found a really cool one that is perfect for only $8 (normally probably a $40-$50 hat!!) on a clearance rack.

And last but not least…..

*Not really a frugal accomplishment per se, but a testimony to how awesome God works–this is what happened just yesterday. We had had another bill roll in from the dentist for two root canals Jeff had to have like two weeks before his incident. (As if the poor guy has not been tortured enough lately, yowza!) Within a couple of days, we had 3 different reimbursement checks show up for things him or I had paid for at work or church lately. Y’all, this is SO cool–without thinking, I added up the amount from the reimbursement checks and it was literally the SAME amount as the bill from the dentist, plus 9 cents to spare. I could have cried. God is good. They were cashed and taken directly to the dentist.

Thanks for stopping in! Hope your summer is going well.

Rachel

9 Out Of 10

I love my husband’s hands.

His hands have served so many in numerous ways over the years…

They gently held each of our 5 children as newborns, even before I did.

They worked hard on his family farm growing up, whether tending to animals, crops, or equipment.

They have tirelessly worked to provide for our family throughout our marriage.

They have held my own thousands of times, whether to give me a quick squeeze, to comfort me, or as we have prayed together.

They have cooked many Sunday breakfasts with our kids for years and know how to whip up some superb meals.

They have humbly served in ways that many don’t even know about or realize at our church.

His hands may not be what would be considered “beautiful” to some people, but they are beautiful to me.  They are calloused, thick, and scarred from various little injuries, especially from his work as a butcher. His right hand has a bump in it from a break that never healed properly years ago. He has a big scar on one thumb from slicing it really deep on a band saw when making a crib for our first born.

After an unfortunate mowing accident this past weekend, he now has only 9 fingers. After a surgery to remove more bone and pull a layer of skin around what is left, that hand is now swaddled in layers of dressing. We haven’t seen the “final product” post-surgery, but have been warned that it will be startling to see when the dressing and sutures are removed. I don’t care. It may be ugly, but his hands will still be beautiful to me.

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This picture was taken a few days before the accident. He took it upon himself to carve really awesome walking sticks for every kid at our upcoming VBS.

They are the hands of a godly man who has a servant’s heart more than anyone else I know. Someone who takes it seriously to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” on this earth as they show love to others in practical ways. The hands of the one who I know loves me like crazy.

Nope, no matter what happens, those hands will always be beautiful to me.

***Forgive me for waxing poetic about this. Our anniversary is next week, and with the loss of his finger, I just got to thinking about how much I appreciate the work of his hands. A serious post, but we had lots of humorous moments within the whole accident/severed finger  story. Maybe I’ll share them another time! ****