My work has been experiencing some major changes. The production floor is on reduced hours, 32 per week and we lost 30 employees due to terminations and a few early retirements. Some of the men had literally worked side by side in the late owner's garage before my company took off, forty years ago. Forty years of service, amazing, but still they were working and did not leave their lifelong career on their own volition.

Every couple of weeks we have a town hall meeting with the owners of our company, in front of the paint booth. It has become a slightly dreaded event due to the lay-offs that seem to happen hours before the scheduled meeting, and then what is imminently relayed to us during the meeting. I appreciate that we are kept informed and I do not believe they, the owners, are hiding information from their employees. But still, these town hall meetings have been pretty stressful.

Today we had an impromptu town hall meeting scheduled. Normally, these have been scheduled a few days in advance or told when our next one will be during a town hall meeting. Today we were told via email, mid-morning. I wasn't even sure if I should leave for lunch. What if I was going to be let go? I actually made a joke about this to Lou, like what if I wasn't there and they couldn't find me, would they still lay me off? I doubt they would just forget, I think they would probably just wait until I got back from lunch.

During today's town hall meeting we were told that we might go to a 24 hour work week for the shop floor. Not me, as my job has expanded to the point I could literally be at work for 24 hours straight and still not able to get it all finished. But salaried people, like myself, could soon be affected. Going forward there will be no sick time or personal pay, no 401k match, no profit sharing, and no more pension contribution. We will now be off the entire week after July 4th, additional day on Memorial weekend, two extra days for Easter, and possible periodic shutdowns. All days off will be either without pay or with remaing vacation pay, we can choose. Our pay structure is also being evaluated and we will be notified in April of the changes that will be made, but there are no more details that can be given regarding our change of pay for performance.

I work in a great, and normally very profitable market, that deals directly with oil, gas, and water. We have a strong international presence but this economy just sucks, everywhere. I know other people are dealing with worse, because at least I still have a job even though my husband doesn't. But the uncertainty of the future weighs heavily on me and fills me with anxiety over what is the best solution or direction for our family. It is during this time that I am so grateful I have a relationship with a God that cares, cares about the smallest little detail, and assurance that he loves me. How depressing would it be to not have someone to cry to, to ask why, to ask how, and to give peace and comfort when I need it.

I thought I would share here where my head has been and what my minisucle part of the world is coping with. This is what I am going through but this is not what I am. However, it is a part of my life and it does have a significant effect on me. When I was scared I went back and read the comments people left on The Nester's blog about how they were dealing with this economy. It made it all seem very doable and it was wonderful to read about other peoples challenges and triumphs. I think this is a prime example of why I love blogs, knowing I am not alone. I need my job but if it goes away it will all be okay....we will all be okay.
Remember back in February when I wrote about my cousins and my aunt and uncle coming to live with us from California? (If not they did, on Super Bowl Sunday they arrived) They have moved out. The grand exodus was not under the best of circumstances. Nothing terribly ugly, but not any hugs and kisses either. In fact, only my uncle said good-bye and thank you to Tony and I.

I learned a lot about hospitality, boundaries, and what I consider important to run a smooth home. There were a few things but two instances stood out and became the turning point.

First, we had great weather one weekend and we asked the boys to help move some of the stumps leftover from the 2007 ice storm. They asked if they could do it on Monday or Tuesday because they didn't want to do anything on the weekend. They worked all week and wanted to be lazy on the weekends. Uh, let's just say that did not go over too well with me. I said something along the lines of, you worked all week, you? After a few choice words, they helped Tony move the trunks.

The second instance, a week later, and the one that spurred the decision for them to all move out and go to my mother's 800 square foot home, happened the next Saturday morning. Our kids had no milk for breakfast. I had made it very clear the weekend before, the tree stump weekend, that they were to supply their own food and use the full size fridge in the garage. I even set up a pantry for them. Our grocery bill went from$350-$400 per month to $750 and instead of giving me money for food I asked that they just supply their own. If I made dinner I would still make enough for them but other than that they were on their own.

So when our kids went pour milk over their cereal and there was no said milk, I put my foot down. It was not ugly, at all, but I was very clear that I was upset and that they had crossed the line. The next morning, Sunday, my uncle came to me while I was having my first cup of coffee and told me they were moving to my mom's. They quickly packed up their stuff and left, very yucky-I can't think of the right words to use.


Our living room got painted.

I love this color green, not a sherbet, not a yellow, just real soft green.

And that stairwell. Well, they sanded all the wallpaper paste off, patched all the drywall, caulked all the moldings, and painted the top blue.
I say having a boarding house was worth it.
The snow was suppose to fall during the wee hours of the morning, like 2am, but it actually didn't start until 9am. It hasn't stopped and it is amazing. The kids want to play in it but because it is 38 degrees outside it is more like white flaky rain than true snow. So we are all inside for the day until the 50 degree weather returns tomorrow.

I have been reading the Tightwad Gazette book and made her version of homemade yogurt last weekend. It turned out perfect, much better than my previous attempt. It wasn't tart, it wasn't runny, and it needed nothing to make it sweet. It turned out perfect and creamy. Since I have plenty of time today I am going to make another batch and will show you step by step how easy it is.

There are only 3 ingredients, milk, dry milk, and yogurt for a starter. Here are the specifics:
  • 4 cups of milk and I used 2%
  • 1/3 cup of dry milk, I spent way too much for this NON-instant, $6.46, and next time I am going to just use regular instant dry milk.
  • 2 tablespoons of starter. Last week I used plain Greek yogurt but this week I am using some of my own yogurt.
Pour in the milk and strongly whisk, until dissolved, the powdered milk. Heat on medium heat until 180 degrees.

I don't own a candy thermometer so I just use this cheap one and make sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. Once the milk reaches 180, about 6-8 minutes on medium-low, turn off and let cool until the milk is 115 degrees. This takes about 45 to 60 minutes, this is actually the most painful part of making homemade yogurt, so that should tell you how easy it is.

Once the milk is 115 degrees, take out 1 cup of the warm milk and stir in your 2 tablespoons of yogurt starter until there are no lumps. Add the milk with the starter back into the remaining warm milk, and whisk all together. Pour into a container, I used three canning jars.

Now this is THE TRICK, place your container(s) of warm milk on a heating pad turned on low. Yes, a heating pad, on low. Then cover your container(s) with a bath towel and grab a soup pot.

Place the soup pot over the towel, which is covering the yogurt, which is sitting on a heating pad turned on its lowest setting. Walk away. Walk away for eight, yes, eight hours. Told you it was easy. The key is a consistent temperature for the eight hours of incubation, hence the heating pad.

After the strenuous eight hours of laboriously making your yogurt, place in the fridge to completely cool. This yogurt is great plain. I don't even like plain yogurt and this is really delicious. But since I can never leave well enough alone, I put a couple of spoonfuls of peach jelly on top.

Seriously, so delicious and totally inexpensive, which is why I tried this in the first place but now I think my yogurt is so much better than any yogurt I have bought in a store. I rock!
Nothing screams awesome parenting like dropping your kid off at school and realizing you forgot it was free dress day. I saw the kids in jeans before Anna did and I actually held my breath hoping she wouldn't notice that they weren't wearing uniform khakis. No such luck. Instead, I spent the rest of the day, at work, remembering how I dropped my baby girl off at school with tears in her eyes and watched her try to be cool and not cry.

Mother of the Year, I am not....but bearer of all mom-guilt, yes, that crown goes to me.
If Obama keeps saying "my first term" are we all going to just assume that he is the President for eight more years? Am I the only one noticing this?