June 18
       More rain today.  Sigh.  It seems like that is all it has done so far this summer.  It is hot and muggy, but the torrential daily (sometimes multiple times a day) thunderstorms have left everything a soggy, overgrown mess.  The ground is saturated and water is pooled in every low lying dip providing ample breeding grounds for fleas and mosquitoes.  We had to invest in torches to drive the pests away on those rare evenings it's dry

enough to sit out.  We took the old liner out of the pool a couple of weeks ago and haven't been able to catch a break in the weather to get the new one in.  It's so frustrating.
       The last couple of years have made me a firm believer in global warming.  I helped Megan research the subject for a school science project a couple of years ago and one of the things we learned was that in temperate climates like ours, the effects of global warming will be seen as extremes in weather patterns.  I don't know that our weather has reached "extremes" yet, but it sure is moving in that direction.
       I lost two chickens to the heat this week.  What a disappointment when we are getting so close to time to butcher them.  And would you believe one of them was the only Arucana that turned out to be a hen?  I read all Kim had to say about caring for the chickens in the heat.  Gosh, but it wasn't anywhere near as hot here as she mentioned in her articles.  I guess maybe the humidity, which she wouldn't have in Arizona, made the difference.  Anyway, she told all about how the birds' electrolytes can get out of whack in the heat.  I had some vitamin stuff  that provides electrolytes left over from when we first got the birds and the feed store recommended it for the first couple of weeks.  I've been mixing it into the water everyday....kind of Gatorade for chickens.  I've noticed, as Kim mentioned, that they go through less water.  I don't know if it's because it tastes funny to them or if they just don't need as much since it has the added nutrients.  I've also been setting the nozzle on the hose to shower and giving the crew a good gentle soaking every afternoon.  They are not too thrilled.  Tim wants to check into putting a fan in the coop.  Has anyone else done that in a small coop?  I want to find some kind of shade cloth to cover the side of the coop that gets the afternoon sun as well.
       The hollyhocks are starting to bloom.  I have a whole patch of them just off the back deck and more keep sprouting all the time.  I am constantly pulling upstarts out from places I don't want them.  It makes me laugh when I hear how much trouble some of my friends have growing them.  Mine all started with one "planted" by the birds in my mom's driveway.  The next year she had a few more pop up around the place.   When they started popping up in the garden I pulled them and stuck them in my flower bed.  I figured if they grew it'd be fine.  If they didn't that would be fine, too.  Then last year Wanda sent me some seeds from her hollyhocks.  All of the ones that started here are a deep, dark red so I was excited to see all the colors Wanda sent.  I prepared a new bed for them, but they never amounted to much.  Just a few small plants that never really took off.  For whatever reason, I dug those out and planted them in the same bed as the others.  I have about twice as many plants this year including ones in the spot I put the transplants.  Only one is blooming so far and it is what I guess you'd call lavender in color.  I'm waiting anxiously to see if any of the other colors Wanda sent turn up.  The transplanted sunflowers aren't doing quite so well this year, but they are hanging in there so maybe if we ever get some sun they will take off.  I found a volunteer something (squash, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini) in the garden and moved it down by the chicken coop.  I noticed the other day it has a blossom so guess I'll soon find out what it is.
       The new kitties are doing well.  Of the three I rescued on my bus route (someone drove down the road and threw them out the window, if you remember), I kept one.  She is all white with one blue eye and one green eye and goes by the name of Blizzard.  A more affectionate kitten you couldn't find, nor a more ornery one for that matter.  She is constantly into something.  My friend that took one of my orphans gave me a black kitten in trade.  The kids have dubbed it Midnight.  Not quite as affectionate as the other, but pleasant.  The two get along famously and are enormously entertaining to watch as they chase each other through the shrubs and flowers.  They get along well with Scooby, our poodle.  He just loves the black kitten.  They are in a standoff with the cairn terrier, who is a bit of a cranky old lady.
       I've started with a diet group at the new church we're going to.  The program is called First Place and it combines bible study with diet, exercise and the support group.  So far I really like it and the ladies in my group are wonderful.  The food exchanges are a little tricky to master, but I'm getting there.  I figure that even if I'm not doing it 100% correctly, I'm still making better choices than before.  The hard part for me has been drinking all the required water.  I'm not a water drinker by nature and it's hard, but I can tell the difference in how I feel just from that.  Trying not to get undermined by Tim and the kids is tough, too.  They still want all the "good" stuff in the house for them and that is so tempting.  I do fool them when I can with healthier choices and the only real snack food in the house is popcorn, which is a good choice for me.  I can have 3 cups of it compared to 10 potato chips.
       Being good financially has been rough lately.  I'm trying to work around a husband who lives in the moment when it comes to spending money and two kids who want, what they want, when they want it.  I have been trying to motivate Matthew to look for a summer job.  He is in no particular hurry and Tim is no help because he really doesn't think Matt should have to work his senior year.....not so he can concentrate on his studies, but so he is free to have fun and join in all the activities he wants to.  Tim says he remembers what it was like to have to work and not be free to do things and he doesn't want that for Matt.  I understand how Tim feels, but his situation was very different.  He started working a full-time job when he was 16.  In a family of seven, it was the only way he was going to have money for anything.  He also helped support the family.  Matt would only have a part-time job of probably 20 hours a week at most.  He doesn't have to help out the family, but he does need money for all the extras he wants to do all the time and I believe that if he wants to drive he should be able to show enough responsibility to cover the cost of his insurance and his own gas money.  He needs to start learning how to budget his time and resources before he goes off to college.  Most likely he will need to hold down a job there and right now I don't think he's got it together enough to do it.  I'm taking Matt out job hunting today and I plan to have a serious talk with both kids about money this morning.  When I got to thinking about how much I have spent on them so far this summer, I nearly keeled over.  It's been $5, $10 or even $20 a day for each of them and when I've tried to deny them I've had to endure Matt's pouting and Megan's temper.  They seem to view it as their right.  I guess I can't blame them.  Not only do they live with their dad's attitude about money, but they see their friends always having money that is simply handed to them.  It's the culture we live in.  Sometimes I really wish we lived out in the boonies without all the influence of other kids or cable television.
       Well, I need to wake the kiddos up and get them moving then head out to feed the critters before it rains again. 

       Carpe diem!