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Month: January 2012

A Long Winding Road

A Long Winding Road

 So that was 2011 then. To say it’s been eventful would be an understatement similar to the time Maggie Thatcher (RIP) said “bollocks to it Dennis, I’m bored of messing with the Argies. Let’s have some fun with the miners”.

This year marked a huge accomplishment in the long and winding road of our life and I’m not just talking about my new beard. Although it is rather impressive and adds a dark, broody dimension to my chiselled double chins, what we completed this year is even more astonishing.

The events of 2011 were put into motion almost a decade ago when Emma and I, still unbeaten by children and house-building stress, were looking for a nice country cottage with a bit of land in county Northumberland (that’s in the UK). Somewhere close enough to Newcastle to be commutable, far enough away that any offspring we might have could legitimately claim to not be Geordies or sound like some disastrous lovechild of Jimmy Nail and Spuggy. Not too ambitious a plan, which was probably why it never really stood a chance.

Now I’ve always loved and embraced technology. At age 7 or 8, Father Christmas brought me a 2XL robot complete with some cartridges and, being smarter than that knob Santa Claus, he even remembered the batteries. At ten or eleven years old, I got a Genie 1 computer with an astonishing 1K of RAM and never looked back. So, it was only natural that I used the new fangled internet to find the perfect country cottage Eschewing the commercial Yahoo! and Alta Vista searches, I choose the minimalist and “do no evil” Google to execute my search.

Through the vagaries of Google’s early search algorithm, I found farms in Northumberland, Ontario. Fairly predictably, I was quickly enamoured of the vast and, to be honest, the very affordable space available in Canada. Unlike the UK where you need a hereditary peerage and a bag of gold coins the size of a Highland Bull’s scrotum to purchase anything like 100 acres, that seemed to be the defacto minimum for a “hobby farm” in Canada. Of course, Emma put some practical limitations on what we could buy. Things that only women would think important, like being close to other people, or access to some shops and a hospital. For me, I was already lost in the dream of a new life in the New World and quite honestly would have accepted almost any constraints to seal the deal and move.

There have been a few false starts on the way, including a bloody awful house in Dunrobin. There were so many mosquitos in the woods around that house that you couldn’t see through the clouds of them at dusk. I swear they used to encircle the property like a gang of sharks hoping for something more substantial to eat than an egg and cress sandwich. Not just that, but those fuckers were so big I am pretty sure they were being used as a display of overwhelming airborne superiority by the ants in their continuing but undocumented War On Humans.

After Dunrobin and 6 months in a rental property in Kanata that’s best forgotten, we landed in the suburban blandness of Stonebridge, Barrhaven. For those of you not familiar with Stonebridge, imagine if you could taste, smell and poorly build astronomically priced houses for out of the colour beige. Then round up a bunch of image-conscious vacuous dullards with the personality of a polished turd and give them the attitude of a self-absorbed rapper. Imagine all that and then imagine it all packed so densely that my house only saw daylight if the neighbours opened their curtains. Perhaps you can then begin to glimpse the horror of Stonebridge. It’s more intolerable than Wigan. The final straw was when our property taxes rose to nearly $7,000 and I still couldn’t coax a decent crop of vegetables from the poxy garden without spending $500 on organic soil which kind of defeats the purpose. What’s a man to do but whinge like a three year old until he gets his way and the missus agrees to sell up?

Handily, our Egyptian neighbour was looking for a place to buy for his friend who for some bizarre reason wanted to swap the heat and wealth of Dubai for the cold of Canada. Never a man to turn my nose up at an Egytian offering me lots of money for very little effort, the deal was done over a very civilized cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit.

Since then, the Gods have been with us. We narrowly avoided buying a remote farm from a mad Swiss couple who thought that they were able to haggle from a position of strength in a recession after revealing they needed to sell quickly. In the end, the land we bought kind of found us. It wasn’t up for sale and wasn’t on the beaten track, but ticked every box we had and more. Now, after two and a bit months of living in our new farm house, it’s starting to feel like home.

I’ve still got a long list of jobs to do and a show-down with our electrical contractor to look forward to soon. It seems electricians aren’t like normal people. Like a slippery Belgian bureaucrat, they believe that a fixed price given for a job is just the starting point for negotiations. Actually doing useful things like wiring up a cooktop and some lights in the garage are optional extras worthy of additional cost. They also think they’re immune from consequence even after damaging said new farm’s polished concrete floors to the tune of $500 before we even moved in.

Well, I am fairly certain that there will be one electrician in Ottawa that will be surprised to discover what happens when the business end of my old 2XL is propelled with force, speed and malicious intent at their arse. Cartridge and batteries included. But I digress.

We’re in. It’s been a momentous year and an rollercoaster of a ride to get here. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but if I have my way it’ll be filled with lots of vegetables and a pig or two and, as my youngest boy likes to shout, absolutely “no heffalumps!”

Good Thoughts

Good Thoughts

This week has been a very different kettle of fish to last week, of course we have our usual ups and downs but this week has flowed much more, a little more rhythm has been achieved.  So here are some of the many things I’m grateful for this week.

– This place I live in, that astounds me every day.

– The chance to watch the moon rise, tinted by the just setting sun.

– A cosy fire to sit by and plenty of wood to keep us warm.

– Magforms that have kept my boys mightily entertained today, they think they are making cool things and I think they are doing 3D geometry and learning.  Even nicer since I put my back out hauling wood but I can still tick off maths on my homeschool organiser!

– An eldest boy who is always willing to help his old Mum, from hauling and stacking wood to helping his brother get dressed, he’s my helper boy.

– A simple life that allows me the peace of an unrushed day.

– The chance to watch bread rise by the fire, knowing it will happily fill tummies in the morning.

– My beloved, who fills my head with the dreams and possibilities of our future.  It’s going to be so great!

– The people on the other end of the phone, the ones who stop simple turning into lonely.

– The colour of the snow at sunset.

– Not having anywhere in particular to be.

– Eggs fresh from our own chickens.

– The promise of a quiet evening and hopefully an early night!

My head is a bit fuzzy after a few restless nights with a certain small person, my back is very ouchy and the chickens still have to be put to bed, there is dinner to cook and boys to wash and hoovering to do…but all that disappears for a few moments when I look out on this,

Pretty good I’d say.

Sunny Seeds

Sunny Seeds

The last couple of days the weather seems to have fallen into a pattern.  An overcast morning with snow flurries evolves into a gloriously sunny day, heating the house and bathing us in golden winter sunshine.  By 3.30 the sun is covered again in clouds and the wind begins to whip, reminding us that King Winter is not always benign and gentle but has the power to drive us inside, and keep us there, at will.

After quiet time this afternoon we made some gifts for our bird friends, we still hear their calls and see them flitting between the trees, now bare of leaves and offering scant protection.  We thought a little snack might help them out.  So apples were cored, sliced, coated in nut butter and dipped in seeds.  Scraps of fabric were cut up to make ribbons so that we could hang them on the trees outside.

Working in my sun warmed kitchen (it got up to 25C at one point, I even had to take my cardi off!) it is easy to forget the harshness of the season surrounding us.  This winter has been, so far, exceptionally mild, and for January we are experiencing quite a lull in weather.  The fact that we can be outside at all is a real blessing especially because we know that, inevitably, Canada will return to type and the temperatures will plunge again.

Marching outside with a box of bird treats, our layers of winter clothes hardly seemed necessary; is this January or March?  But it didn’t take long for the illusion to wear off.  As we finished hanging the last of the treats in the low branches of trees and bushes, the wind began to pick up, prickling my neck and cheeks.  Heading inside we left behind us a little bounty for the birds who don’t have such a cosy bolt hole as ours.

Any time outside at this time of year has to be counted as a gift, a day that hits the mighty high of 0C  feels balmy after the sharp winds of -30C over Christmas.  So we make the most of it, storing up the feeling of freedom in our bodies against the days of confinement that will surely come.  In the mean time we offer our feathered friends a little hope too, that winter will end and spring will truly come.  What is white now and locked into ice, will melt and grow again.  But not yet.  I think King Winter still has some tricks up his sleeve for us novice country dwellers.  In the meantime I will bask in the sunshine and dream of spring and the turning of green again.

Good Clean Fun

Good Clean Fun

1 x $5 slider + 2 crazy boys + 1 even crazier daddy + the hill outside our house  = A LOT of fun!

This is Stephen proving that all it takes to entertain children is a high tolerance for cold, sliding on ice and the ability to be landed on without extreme injury!

And for even more Monday morning jollity here is a favourite clip of mine from Alan Davies (a particular favourite of cat lovers Alice and Haitch!) reminding us that true fun just takes a little bit of effort…

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s Complex Ok?

It’s Complex Ok?

So I haven’t been feeling well for a while, about a year and a half or so.  I’ve lost track a bit really.  What with moving countries and houses and children and the hard times of life, I sort of forgot what feeling healthy was like.  Last year, after a bout of symptoms I couldn’t ignore, I sought help and was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, basically I can’t process b12 from food so I need to take injections to keep my health up.  Okey doke, job done.  But while many of the other symptoms went away the feeling of tiredness didn’t and after a super relaxing and restful christmas I’ve had to admit that I’m still tired but don’t know why.

My own research indicated I probably have some blood sugar issues, but I also consulted with my Naturopath and she has made some dietary and supplement recommendations.  The supplements are a bit of a mystery to me, some enzymes, some vitamins, and acid of some sort.  Stephen’s done the reading on this one and seems happy that it is the right stuff.  Apparently my mitochondria (whatever they are)  might be having a bit of a hard time.  I’m assured by Stephen that this is of some significance, something to do with electrons?  Given that they are natural supplements and (unlike most pharmaceutical drugs) carry no risk of killing me I’m going to go with it and really hope they help.

The food side of it is more my area.  I spent most of last night pondering the suggestions my ND has given me, she’s recommending a diet of about 20/30% protien, 10% fat and 50/60% complex carbohydrate within each meal.  Setting aside her disastrous assumption that I can work out percentages, that all sounds reasonable to me.  I just needed to know what a complex carbohydrate was and I was good to go.   I mean I know that they are slow burning energy sources and all that and I would put $5 on sweet potato being on the list but, essentially, what else am I able to eat?

Well a lot as it turns out.  Basically anything that is jolly healthy, natural and tasty seems to be on the list.  Many fruits, nuts, brown rice and legumes, even wholewheat bread and various other whole grains such as oats are on there.  Whoop!  This was not as bad as I’d thought!  I immediately thought of tons of things I could eat enjoyably, which is a good job really as I’ve also been recommended to eat more regular meals, about every 3-4 hours.  So instead of frantically snacking on choccy biscuits when starvation hits around 3pm, I am to plan to eat and eat properly.   Smaller, healthier meals spaced throughout the day.

If you are thinking “Well isn’t that the way you should be eating anyway? I mean you are a grown up Emmalina after all.” I would heartily agree with you.  If asked I would say that I love spinach, adore berry smoothies, will eat yummy chilli all day long and thoroughly enjoy a loaf of wholewheat bread so dense you could use it for the foundation of your house and still come back for more with extra jam please.  But.  Shall I tell you what isn’t on the list?

Sugar.  White flour.  Chocolate.  No toffees, biscuits, ice creams, cakes, muffins or sweet and delicious iced buns.  Not a one.  I double checked.  Twice.  You see it turns out that this stuff is basically sending me mental.  I eat it, get a major high, dance around filled with joy for a short while, then feel utterly terrible, exhausted and aching.  I’ve wondered for a while if I have a gluten intolerance but it turns out it isn’t so much the gluten as it is the sugar.  Not just the granulated sugar that goes into all the lovely cakes, biscuits and treats I so adore making, but the white flour itself that metabolises like one big slab of Kendal Mint Cake (for my North American friends just imagine a minty slab of solid sugar and you are pretty much there).

Oh and I can’t have white pasta either.  But really I can’t bring myself to care about that too much just now.

So it hit me.  White flour is evil as far as my body is concerned.  So is sugar.  They are ganging up together, in their world of cakes and floofy breads, luring me in just to slowly kill me.  Kill me to death.

Well maybe not to death but it certainly isn’t doing me any favours.  It’s not helping me jump out of bed in the morning, leap daintily downstairs crying ‘Who’s up for a 3 hour hike?!’  Which might be a good thing because I don’t think anyone wants to be friends with that Emmalina.  But I would like to get up in the morning feeling as though I’ve actually slept.  I would like to see 3pm as a midway point through the day rather than the time I would like to crawl under the sofa and just give up on life altogether.  I’d like to feel 38 not 78.

So I’m saying it here.  I’m making a change.  A big one.  I’m also going to make a declaration which might sounds like a joke but actually isn’t.  I’m a sugar junkie.  I don’t just enjoy sugar, I use it.  When I feel sluggish or tired I reach for the chocolate for a lift, when I’m hungry and dizzy and my brain can’t seem to come up with the straightforward idea that peeling an apple might be a good idea, I reach for biscuits.  Not as a treat, but just to feel normal.  Just to level off.  Of course it makes the problem worse, it throws me even further out of balance.  It’s a sticky plaster not a cure.  And it’s  poisoning me.

“What’s with the drama Emmalina?” You might be wondering to yourself, “take a chill pill, hold some horses, calm down.”  But I can’t.  I need to get fully behind this idea, I need to realise the importance of all this in order to make proper changes.  I need to see the truth and recognise that I need to live a different way if I am going to have this life I’ve dreamed of for so long.  By seeing the sugar and the treats as the thing that stands between me and the life I want I can click that switch.  The one that takes me from addicted and dependent to pushing through the withdrawal and out the other side.

It’s not going to happen all at once, there are some bits that will evolve as we finish supplies and replace with alternatives (white rice for brown rice for example).  I will allow myself a few choccy covered almonds until the bag runs out, there will be a couple of choc drops in my home made energy bar while I get over the ‘hump’ part of changing my diet.  I recognise that I’m in the initial euphoria stage and that I’ll have tough moments so I’ve come up with a cunning plan.

Be prepared.  

I can’t take full credit for that one but if it’s good enough for the Baden-Powell’s it’s good enough for me.  What I need to do is make sure that there are tasty and easy to reach foods on hand for when my sugar crashes and I suddenly become ravenous and need to eat now.   Carrot sticks pre cut, hummus in the fridge, plenty of yoghurt and apples, broccoli salad ready made.  I don’t want to be a horrid fascist and ban everyone is my family from ever seeing a white loaf again, but as I do the cooking and I now know that this stuff isn’t really as nice a treat as I thought, I suspect there will be less around once the bags of white flour are gone.

I’m also really grateful to have signed up for Heather’s Wholefoods Kitchen e-course, it has even more relevance for me now and I’m hoping for lots of tips on how complex carbohydrates and me can become even better pals.  In the meantime I made a start. I had a berry smoothie with kale prior to lunch (and joy of joys Huwyl had two glasses aswell!) which helped me eat less rice with my delicous bean chilli, a few carrot sticks and a bit of hummus kept me out of the chocolate tin while the rice cooked and here I am, no pain, nausea, headache or suicidal exhaustion.  I mean I could handle a nap but I don’t feel as bad as I have been.

Well fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted!  Wish me luck on my journey to be free of the white sugar enslavement as I firmly pitch my tent in Camp Whole Food Lovers just near the River of Complex Carbohydrates.  I hear they do a  kicking smoothy.

Back to Work

Back to Work

Have you ever been standing in the hallway, trying to dress a screaming child as he yells at the top of his lungs (right by your ear) “Want a BISCUIT!!!!” over and over again and you are yelling back “You can’t have a BISCUIT!!!!  We have to feed the chickens!!!!!” and then you realise that this marks the official moment  your holiday is over.  With a capital OH.

I always knew it would be rubbish when Stephen went back to work but I had expected a slightly more delayed reaction rather than a prompt 9am YOU SUCK wake up call.  Outside time didn’t diminish the screaming but it wasn’t right by my ear and the work of sorting out chickens and collecting sleds of wood helped me to feel better at least.  But really, I mean couldn’t I just be a bit calmer?  A bit nicer?  A bit less hysterical?  Sigh.  If only I had that zen gene that so many people seem to possess, or even the blessed ignorance to not know when I have degenerated into being Rubbish Mum of the Year 2012.

But as the day draws to a close, as we settle into a better rhythm, as the morning that grated became the afternoon that flowed, I begin to wonder.  What is all this telling me?  As I am wont to do I spent my lunchtime (which is also the boy’s quiet time) cruising blogs and reading up on things that interest my butterfly brain.  Today I followed links from Soulemama to the SQUAM blog and new website.  I’m only vaguely aware of the organisation, being as it is in the US and filed under ‘things I can’t do because they are far away’ but felt drawn to their blog and the sheer joy of their ideas.

A comment I left led to Elizabeth sending me a lovely email, that got me to thinking.  What does it mean to be an artist?   It seems such a grand title, a thing that I could never apply to myself.  Apart from the fact that I only got a C at A level Art I don’t necessarily see myself as a creative person.  I make things but I’m not creative.  I can follow along with the creativity of another, a recipe, a pattern; I can point my camera at the world and catch some of what I see, but artist?  To me an artist is someone with vision, an original, a fresh view of the world.

The only thing that I’ve ever been able to use creatively is words, I’ve always written stories or poems, tried to put my thoughts into words in some way.  It’s why I write here, the thoughts that build up in my brain have to go somewhere!  But to me an artist is someone who takes time, dedicates themselves to their art.  Do my snatches at the kitchen counter while the kids are having quiet time or watching tv count?  Can that be art?  Do artists really take breaks at significant moments in their creative process for potty emergencies?  I don’t have an answer but I’d love to know what others think.

As I’ve drifted through blog posts and my own thoughts today, a consistent message keeps coming to the fore.  Enjoy life, it’s short.  Take pleasure in what you can.  Life is what you believe it to be.  I read a post here by Elizabeth and another here by Jen, that triggered my thoughts on this subject.  I am way too prone to bouts of severe puritanism and I often feel that if something isn’t hard and a bit miserable it just isn’t worth anything.  I mean if we are having fun how can it be work?  I preach the reading-on-the-couch theory, but that niggle in my tummy says that unless he’s slaving over a worksheet or bored senseless he just isn’t learning.

But I can’t ignore the messages, the words that keep drifting through my consciousness.  Enjoy.  Live for now.  Look for the good.  So I did.  I noticed that on this day where I lost my temper (twice), I also did a pile of ironing, sorted laundry ready for putting in drawers, did a couple of small art projects with the boys, tidied the school room up a bit after reorganising it yesterday, cooked, collected wood, looked after chickens, read a pile of books under a blanket by the fire to both boys at the same time,  celebrated Neirin doing a poo in the toilet for the second day running (that’s a big deal around here), cooked a chilli, gave the boys something reasonably nutritious to eat for dinner and got them in the shower ready for story time with Daddy.    It is small, it is perhaps unexciting but it all took effort, and work.  It all took the energy of swallowing my hormonal madness (you know, those days when you fantasise about the supermarket being held up at gun point just so you have an excuse to beat the crap our of someone with a large and heavy jar of pureed tomato) and saying in a level way “Yes that is what you are having for dinner”.

In a quiet moment this afternoon, while I was assimilating all this, while Neirin was taking a break from wailing ‘But whhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy’, I looked out of the window and looked at the snow coming down.  I watch it get a little fatter, a little more insistent.  It lay across the ice, answering my prayers for a more stable walking surface, it embodies silence and calm.  I wonder to myself, can I really be grumpy in the face of this?

Of course I can.

I have all terrain grumpiness that can take down even the most cheerful of scenarios.  But  I choose not to.  I choose to revel in the moment, the quiet of it all.  I choose to look forward to bedtime snuggles and giggles.  I choose to enjoy the smell of freshly showered children and clean pj’s, the sight of tidy bedrooms and warm sidelights.  I choose to think about what it would mean to call myself an artist, to see myself that way.  I choose my choice. I choose what I chose.

I also choose chilli and chocolate almonds.  See, that’s what I call a bright side.

Celebrating Slow

Celebrating Slow

Despite feeling a bit fragmented and dusty headed when it came to our festive celebrations this year, something I was really pleased to see manifest was the desire to make a season of celebrating rather than just one day.  This year we celebrated St Nicholas, the Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  Presents and treats were spread out over the days allowing for a bit more treasuring and a little less pressure on ‘the big day’.  New Year followed suit.

Just before New Year Stephen bought a couple of packets of giant sparklers from our local Dutch deli (chocolate heaven by the way and a great place to buy Saint Nicholas treats!), the boys enjoyed them over more than one evening, indulging their love of fire and sparkles in the cold nights that finished the year.  The turn of the calendar year meant little to them but sparklers?  That’s a good time.

Another little celebration was the Burning Tree Bonfire.  Intended for New Year’s Day, we postponed to the next day when the rain and sleet made us throw another log on the fire and reach for a blanket instead.  Ever mindful of the opportunity to bring a little ritual into our lives we made wishes on the cut (and tinder dry) branches before we threw them into the leaping fire.  The smoke took our wishes for our new year to the gods and the fire took the tree that had celebrated the old year, turning it to ash to be spread on the earth.

Christmas Day this year was truly fabulous, many gifts and lovely things to share.  But this spreading out of the season, the many other little high points along the way, have brought me so much pleasure too.

This practice of taking the time to celebrate life, in big and little ways, strikes me as significant.  It is an idea I wish to carry with me in the coming months, planning for little high points, little joys along the way.  I want to avoid the feeling of pressure that often comes along with celebrations, not the least of which is often that they fall on only one day, miss that and all is wasted.  Instead we can indulge over longer periods, taking our time, meandering a little.  I’d like to look for something to celebrate in each season, even in each day.

Life is to short, and too precious, to speed through and if something is worth doing why not do it several times not just once!  I’m going to celebrate the chance to slow right down, breathe and take life at a more sedate pace.  After all, what’s the rush?

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I can always tell when the temperature is below -20C; the air freezes around my nose as I breathe in.  Today is sunny and clear so I should have realised that it would be a tad parky, but it wasn’t until I was outside checking on the chickens that I realised how much the temperature had plunged overnight.  But once we were all suited and booted and outside on this glorious sunny day we couldn’t help but head off on an adventure!

Huwyl and Neirin kicked things off with a good old ‘stab the big pile of snow/ice’ game, the ice was suitably subdued and the conquerers insisted on a few momento shots.

That triumph suitably documented we headed off to check on the freezing status of the pond and a general scout for vagabond action.  You always have to be on the alert don’t you know.

Huwyl and I stopped for a brief sword fight by the pond (which I have to admit was wicked fun, who needs tea parties when you can have sword fights!) but Huwyl called a halt and made peace, deciding that we were really friends we’d just forgotten.  That boy of mine really can’t bear to be at odds with loved ones.

Speaking of love this boy is in love with the Daddy made sword he’s holding.  Complete with shiny handle and esoteric script it hasn’t left his side since Daddy made it for him a couple of days ago.  I would say he loves this as much as anything we bought him for christmas, his Daddy is a clever chap.

But the real star today was nature, she outshone us all with her glorious blue sky, sunshine and shining earth.  As we adventured through our fields even the biting cold -30 wind couldn’t stop me from revelling in the beauty surrounding us.

The best bit, for me at least, was the feeling of freedom I had.  I could run around outside with my crazy boys, sharing their adventures and imaginings, knowing that home was just a few minutes away.  Once our faces had been pinched red by the wind and our toes frozen by the snow, we just had to walk back up the hill and back to our cosy house.  The sunshine beaming through the windows had warmed the house to 25C without any other heating source; we ate lunch at the counter with the sun warming our backs.  I might eventually warm up and feel brave enough to head out again this afternoon!

2011: Looking Back

2011: Looking Back

As I reflect over the year, through the photos I took and the memories they stir, I am struck by how full our year has been.  My Dad said last christmas that we would look back and wonder how we did it, that is exactly how I feel.  How?  But  we did and here we are, happy, tired and looking to the future.

January

Jars rescued from an old shed, symbolising my desire to regenerate this place that had just become ours.

February

Planning, planning, planning…

March

My beautiful boy turned 2.

April

Already addicted to our land we spent every moment we could there, despite how far we had to go it felt more like home than anywhere else.

May

Stephen’s birthday present was a big one this year!  We made our first steps towards becoming a farm as Big George joined us, a true 80’s classic.

June

After months of work and dedicated plotting we broke ground.  As the summer burst into life so to did our project, the foundations and the first floor were built.

July

Our biggest boy turned 6!  His birthday party was held at our new ‘house’ which, by the end of the month, had a second floor.

August

After a blisteringly hot July (Huwyl’s birthday saw temperatures hitting 45C) August continued in the same vein.  This was the crunch month with heating, plumbing, roofing, windows, concrete laying and polishing all needing to happen in the right order and with no delays.  This was the month that nearly killed us all.

September

Suddenly our deadline began to loom up on us and there was still so. much. to. do.  Luckily reinforcements arrived in the form of Stephen’s parents, propelling us forward with tons of help and moral support (especially during the 5 hours I spent on the phone trying to organise getting electricity on site).  By the time they went home it all seemed possible again , thanks Nana and Grandad!

October

With just a month to go until move in this month nearly finished me off.  As well as the build there was the move to organise, Stephen spent two weeks of weekends and evenings painting to house until he couldn’t move his fingers…it was crunch time and we were overwhelmed.  Luckily more reinforcements arrived!

Ahem…actually I was thinking more along the lines of…

My Dad, who picked up where Stephen’s parents left off, painting, packing and helping with the move.  We really couldn’t have done it without him (and Shawn who was a major moving star and thanks again to Lynsey for loaning him to us!) and it was a joy to share our first weeks in our home with him.

November

We basked in the sheer joy of being here, pushing aside our utter exhaustion and revelling in the wonder of our home and the beauty of the natural world around us.  November really was an unparalleled month for weather, it felt like we were being welcomed to our new home by the earth and the sky that put on its best colour just for us.

December

It was a busy month of activities and glitter, mud and ice, snow and sunrises.  And finally it was the month of settling in, of well needed rest, of being a family.

2011 is not a year I’d like to repeat!  Looking back I’m not quite sure how we got here, but I know that we had great help.  Family, friends and a great building team all worked alongside us to bring this vision to fruition.  So here we are, the future laying ahead and a seed catalogue laying on the table.

Welcome 2012, the year of farm building!