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Month: October 2011

Nearly There

Nearly There

We are 2 sleeps away from moving into our new home.  That really isn’t long.  Especially when you consider how much is left to pack.  Hey ho, we’ll do our best and see how we get on.  The last couple of days have been pretty stressful  with peak stress hitting this afternoon.  On being informed that we might not actually be able to move in on Friday despite having the movers booked, the house (sort of nearly) packed and our rental being up on Monday.  I’m pretty sure that Stephen simply held the phone away from his ear for half an hour as I screamed my lungs out in the basement, generally expressing that no I didn’t think that was a good idea.

Luckily that no longer is the case.  Despite issues with e-coli in the water (actually a common problem in new wells in case you are imagining a bubonic plague type situation), over due samples and people just basically not doing what they are supposed to be doing, we are still able to move our stuff in on Friday.  Tonight Stephen is staying at the house painting and working on hooking up computer stuff until 1am, when he will go outside into the frosty night and run a hose that will run for 6 hours or so to clear the system out after being shocked.  Then he’ll drive 30 minutes home and fall asleep, get up in the morning, go to work and then go back to the house to do a few more hours work before coming home, falling asleep to get up and move house the next day.  Seriously.  There should be some kind of medal he gets for all this, and for putting up with me but that is another story.

In the meantime my Dad is here and doing a lot of this:

And when I say a lot I mean A LOT.  He’s painted the ceilings in three bedrooms (they are 9ft high and sloped so it is quite a challenge) done Huwyl’s bedroom one coat, then a coat of white because we didn’t like the colour (without a murmur of complaint), redone a colour in Huwyl’s room, done Neirin’s room with two coats and a coat of colour in my bedroom.  And when he isn’t doing that he’s generally being super nice and keeping me on the straight and narrow.  I’m lucky to have these two men in my life that’s for sure.

My mantra is “We are nearly there”, I find myself saying it all the time whenever the panic threatens as I think about how much there is to do and how little time and energy there is to do it with.  My other mantra is “We are getting there”, and we are.  But when you find out your water is temporarily poisonous or that one of the electricians has spilled juice all over your shiny polished concrete floor, then left it there to stain it because he couldn’t be bothered to get a cloth, you can feel a little discouraged.  I can feel a little discouraged.  But really, we are getting there.

The house is looking fabulous.  The bathrooms are almost finished (glass doors in the main bathroom  and glass screen for our bathroom tomorrow), the appliances are all in (not switched on but that is being resolved tomorrow), the HVAC needs to be balanced (next week) and there is some finishing to be done inside and out.  But.  We can move in.  On Saturday morning I will wake up to the sky outside and know that we are in.

Worth it.

I’m also sending love out to my dear friend who is having to be braver than anyone should have to be.  I am reminded that the things I am facing really aren’t so bad and that life and love need to be held very tightly while we have them.  Even those who don’t know her, please take a second to send a moment of strength, I know she’ll feel it and I really believe it will help a little.  But as I know better than anyone, even a little help goes a long way.  

Carpets

Carpets

Due to the fact that my sister who may talk nice but is in fact a deadly ninja smurf kindly requested pictures, I was motivated to take a few snaps of our lovely new carpets.  They were installed on Friday and I spent today hoovering them to get up all of the fluff, two hoovers worth and counting…but totally worth it.

Behold the carpeted bliss,

The dark grey carpet runs up the stairs, along the landing and into our bedroom and the guest bedroom (soon to be occupied by my Papa who has flown over to help with the painting and the move), with the light blue/grey in both the boy’s bedrooms.

Having carpets down has turned this from a shell to a home.  The boys were running around upstairs and playing, a taste of things to come, and I could happily let them do it.  There were no building materials to trip over, no sharp nails to worry about, no dust to get covered in.  I am really starting to feel what living here will be like, in just a few days this will be our permanent home.

Even as the inside of the house becomes more and more lovely, I still enjoy the beautiful glimpses of outside that can be found in every room of the house.  Nature is never very far away and always seems to be calling us out to play, just for a little while.

5 sleeps to go!

Countdown

Countdown

I apologise in advance for any madness or general not-making-sense that is likely to take over for the forseeable. This is the final week before our move, that’s right we are on a clock people.  This is the last Sunday living somewhere else, we are nearly there.  This week I will be packing, panicking and attempting to stay sane.  Really the main thing is the packing, the rest is optional.

Say it with me, the stucco is finished!  I will try and take lots of pics over the coming days as the house gets finished off and the madness of moving commences or else I think I might be getting a slap in the post from my sister (she’s tiny but mighty).

5 Days to go!

Play

Play

Yesterday I saw this great video on Free Range Kids  about a scheme that is being trialed in the UK at the moment, it is an incredibly simple idea but I’m not surprised at its popularity with children of all ages.

This video reinforces something I’ve be thinking about for quite a while now, about the way children play and interact and their environment’s impact upon this.  Being homeschoolers has given me the chance to really observe the way that my children interact with each other and their friends,  and how little they require to get their imaginations going.  I’ve watched my boys and a few friends play for hours in the woods with some branches made into a rough shelter and the other bits of nature they find around them; their imaginations fill in any gaps and they play games that evolve and change depending on the players and the whim of the moment.

One of the things I’ve been most impressed with about the groups of children we meet is the way different genders and ages play together.  On the whole boys will play more with boys and vice versa but there is none of the ‘yuck you’re a girl/boy’ they just play the games that seem most interesting to them.  I watch Huwyl play just as comfortably with 9 year old girls as he does with a child half his age.

Every week we go to choir, a real mix of ages but mostly girls in the group.  After their hour of singing the kids run around inside and out for as long as the weather will allow; there is never any discussion of what the ‘rules’ of the game is yet they all seem to know.  Basically it involves running, catching, escaping and trying not to get caught.  Us Mums chat and watch our kids running around like maniacs until we drag them reluctantly away, I think they would all happily play like that all day.

I think what I’m basically saying is that I love watching my children play.  I love it when they make up their own games at home using whatever bizarre costume or props they can find around the place.  I love it when they run around like maniacs with a gang of other kids, or find a quiet moment with a particular friend to work on a project or idea.  Their dressing up box is a mismatch of crazy stuff, some home made, some bought second hand or found around the house.  They don’t need it to be a special ‘costume’ because to them it becomes whatever they want.  A ninja, king, knight…the possibilities are endless.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our new home and creating an outdoor space for the boys to play.  This may seem crazy as ‘space’ is certainly we have in abundance but, while they are still young and we are still discovering what our land contains (not all of it made by nature or safe) I’d like to create an open ended playscape where their imaginations can run riot and they have access to materials rather than predetermined ‘toys’.  I’ve pinned a ton of ideas on my pinterest board and I think I’ll be adding the idea of a ‘pod’ to the list of things I’d love to provide for the boys.

I’m also looking forward to the very near future when I will have the time (and hopefully energy!) to not just watch them but perhaps play with them a little.  Being homeschoolers is not always easy but for me, knowing my children have lots of time to play in their own way and having the chance to witness the tides of imagination that sweep over and away with them, is a very big payoff.

Birthday Wishes

Birthday Wishes

Today is my birthday, my 38th to be exact.  Doesn’t 38 sound like a glamorous age to you?  I don’t know if I can really live up to it but I love the sound of 38, it sounds lovelier than 37 somehow.  I spent the afternoon painting my house (we are soooooo close) and I pondered what life will be like when I don’t have to devote every spare moment to painting doors and door frames and stairs….

So what should I wish for on my 38th birthday?

No, I can’t think of anything either.

 

Thanks again to all my lovely family and friends who’ve let me know with emails, cards, presents, phone calls, outings and of course hugs and kisses, that they are thinking of me today.  I know it sounds trite but that really is the best gift.  

That and my new sewing machine.  I mean I love all of you but seriously, this thing could sew through concrete.  Concrete I tell you!  

Choosing My Choices

Choosing My Choices

I was just reading a great post by Earthmama Lisa, about choosing how we react to life.  This is something I’ve thought on a lot over this summer, but a reminder is always helpful.  As my stress levels rise and the impending move begins to weigh heavily on my consciousness, I find it difficult to keep a level head and heart.  I feel panicky, stressed, nervous and quite shouty.  It is taking little to tip me over the edge and a lot of energy to remind myself that this was my choice.

No one, least of all the boys, forced me to embark upon this building project.  Yes, I can argue that we are doing this to give them the kind of life we feel is most healthy and beneficial, but really this was our decision.  I hope (and really do know) that this new life will be so much better for them, that they will enjoy the freedom of space to run in, trees to climb, sky to live under; I hope that this will pay back the stress and lack of focus of the last few months.

But it really does take a lot of conscious effort to remind myself that despite the exhaustion, worry, anxiety and did I mention exhaustion? I get to choose how I react to things.  Not every time, sometimes I am swept away by my emotions or anger, usually when I am tired, but much of the time.  Example.  On Saturday we spent the day at the house, I left Stephen there around 6, brought the boys home for dinner, bath and bedtime.  Just as they were finishing supper Stephen called to ask me where his car keys were; of course they were in my car.  Up ahead was another hour of driving with two boys who should, by rights, be heading to bed.  I accepted the situation with reasonably ill grace and dragged on my shoes, herding the boys toward the door.

Huwyl’s reaction?  “This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me!  What a great adventure!”  I couldn’t help but laugh and be cheered by his outlook on life.  As it was we had a pleasant drive through the twilight and on the return journey both boys fell asleep, remaining so when I carried them up to their beds.  I wish I could embrace all challenges as potential adventures, I admit I’m just not quite up to it, but sometimes I can put the mental brakes on and say ‘look at things differently’; it works wonders every time.

I have had some prior training in this area, so really I should be better at it.  A few days after Huwyl was born (he was 11 weeks premature) we were told he had a brain hemorrhage.  The stress of his birth had caused bleeding in his brain and there was no way of knowing if it had caused any damage or not.  Over the two months that he was in the NICU he had ultrasounds to determine if there had been any harm done and subsequently he was followed up by the children’s hospital for 4 years to be sure.  This hung over us for the whole of his time in hospital and beyond as we wondered, could there be something lurking in our little boy’s brain that could take him from us?

Every time I would think about getting results from the doctor my fears would rush in, terrifying me with thoughts of the very worst.  But I was determined that fear would not win, so every time one of these horror movies got going I would mentally stop it, rewind and force the replay to conform to my own wishes.  Over and over again the doctor would say all was well, the bleed had resolved and no damage had been done.  It was too important that our beloved bean be well, I wouldn’t allow even a thought that entertained the worst.

When I think on those days, the fear we felt, the agony of being parted from our little boy, I know that the day to day struggles I face can be met with much more grace.  I know I am only human and so grouchiness and tiredness do their inevitable work on me,  but sometimes I have one of those out of body moments when I look at my life, my two healthy boys, and remember how lucky I am.  I can choose to be grateful for them instead of resenting the work they create, I can choose to see what amazing, loving people they are instead of being irritated when they trip me over mid task for a cuddle.  I can remember that if I’m having a hard time, they certainly must be and they didn’t choose any of this.

Today I choose to see the never ending laundry pile as evidence of my two country boys in the making,  my tiredness as a job well done and my impending move…well, as the fulfillment of 10 years of dreaming and working.   Maybe this will be a good day after all.

Attitood

Attitood

Throughout this build process I’ve tried (I really have tried) to remain calm and professional.  I’ve been helping with the project management of the build, which has been a lot of work and effort.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of it, being so involved in building my own home has been really rewarding, but there have been many frustrations.  This, it appears, is the nature of building.  But throughout it all I’ve tried to be realistic, helpful and persistent in achieving our goals.  In short I have been a reasonable individual.

I fear that this is no longer the case.  The days of ‘let’s find a compromise’ Emmalina are over.  Instead we have ‘fit my cooker or I will cut you’ Emmalina; I think she is here to stay.  I find myself unable to brook any delay and have made some pretty terrifying threats against anyone who stands in my way.  Of course they don’t know that but if the nervous laughter of our GC (Dave The Man) is anything to go by, I sound convincing.

Probably because I really do mean it.

I mean, we all have a dark side don’t we?  Mine is perhaps slightly more developed than some, but still I feel pretty justified.  I mean, shouldn’t people turn up when you are paying them to do a job?  Isn’t this a prerequisite?  And shouldn’t they do the thing they are being paid to do within the time frame they promised to do it?  Is this so unreasonable to expect?

Apparently.

Sigh.  We are just so close, we really are nearly there.  It’s not that there isn’t more work to do, there is, but really we are a hairsbreadth away.  Our kitchen appliances are being delivered on Thursday and I am collecting all of our light fittings tomorrow.  So this Friday the electricians need to turn up and fit.  my.  cooker.  You really don’t want to be the man who stands between me and my cooker.  You will end up with and Emmalina shaped hole right through your middle and I will still expect you to fit my appliances.  That’s where I’m at.

I appreciate that this may seem a little unhinged but it has been a very long year.  And I am moving in 16 days, we are on a countdown people.  Here is the list of some of the jobs that will be cleared off the docket this week:

Collect lights – mark up locations

Appliances to be delivered

Lights, sockets, light switches and appliances fitted

Septic bed covered over

Stucco finished (turn up damn you!)

Roof finished

Chimney finished

Fire inspected

Tiles ordered and fitted

Ceilings painted

Shower screen ordered

Bathroom fittings collected

Clean house in preparation for carpet fitters

Kitchen counters fitted (hopefully without shattering into 50 bajillion pieces)

And this week is relatively slow.  But the brilliant bit is, the really fabulous and wonderful bit, when each one of these jobs is done there is no next stage.  They are done.  Complete.  Finished.  Finito.  Fini.  Fait Accompli.  If only everyone will turn up, we’ll be fine.  And I won’t have to get angry.

They won’t like me when I’m angry.

Fire

Fire

Have you ever painted your entire house?  Have you ever painted your entire house all at once?  You are probably thinking that doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend Thanksgiving weekend and you would be correct.  Oh how correct you are.

But.  When you have the electricians coming next week (allegedly), the appliances being delivered and the following week the carpets are going in, well painting has to be done.  In order for the final fix of electrical to go in the ceilings and wall need to be primed and, ideally, the ceilings painted.  That’s a lot of painting.  We (and when I say we I clearly mean mainly Stephen with a bit of Emmalina assistance and company keeping) went through 8 gallons of paint since yesterday.  Probably more by now as Stephen is still painting.  Oh and that doesn’t include the paint that Stephen used when working late all week.

To top it off the weather was stunning.  Amazing.  The best weather ever, and we were stuck inside painting, as were the children as they can’t be trusted near the still to be covered up septic bed without supervision and they seem drawn to it likes moths to a…well you can imagine.

It could have sucked.   It didn’t.

For lots of reasons really.   We were all together, we were all together for 3 days, we could see the good weather and enjoy it on brief trips outside and through the windows, we were painting the house we are going to live in for a really long time.  And we are moving in 3 weeks, let’s not forget that part.

Then Stephen had the genius idea of building an outdoor stove out of breeze blocks.   I’m telling you I don’t know how all of his brains fit in his head sometimes.  On a Value Village trip I bought plates and cutlery as well as a grill that fit our bbq perfectly.  I just love the zen of thrifting.  So on Saturday we had a mini bbq and yesterday I cooked tortellini over the flames (avidly watched by a certain 6 year old pyromaniac).

Last night, under the light of a gibbous moon, we cranked up the fire again and ate takeaway pizza and baked beans warmed over the flames.  In the darkness the debri of the building site disappeared, leaving instead our family circled around the glowing logs.  The boys were in heaven, sitting out there in the darkness with a real fire blazing away; Stephen and I shared a few moments of (relative) peace, our exhausted brains freshened up by the warm autumn winds and our hearts lifted by the knowledge that we are only weeks away from burning as many logs as we want whenever we want, outside or inside.

It’s amazing to me how something so simple can make all the difference in the world.  I hope I never forget our special little gathering.

Happy Thanksgiving to all xxx

Wood

Wood

Walking around our land I notice wood, in many different forms and with many uses, everywhere I look.

Ready for the fire on the cold days and nights to come,

Fallen and ready for cutting,

But perfect for climbing on just as they are,

And of course it is excellent for building houses with,

The abundance all around me feels wonderful.  Knowing that we have the capacity to keep ourselves warm, create entertainment, belongings and even a home from this amazing material is a delight to contemplate.  But really just seeing the earth meet the sky, that startling contrast of blue against a living tree, is one of the most uplifting sights I can imagine.

Is there anything better than a sunny autumn day?