Renovation progress!

Well its not finished yet, but we are in the new section!  The extension has totally changed the way we interact as a family.  It allows us to all be togeather whilst doing our own things.  The woodfire draws people into the kitchen/dine/lounge area, and the Little Old Cottage is no longer little!  We have not finished room shuffling yet, as Grant is working of some touch ups in the old master bedroom to get it ready for sale before we move the little two in.  But in the aim of always keeping it real I'll share our progress.  There is washing hanging and the photos are not curated.  But this is our family home.  This is us.



There is still plenty of work to be done.  Woodwork painted, kitchen kickers to go in, the wall on the left needs a little more plaster and then to be cleaned and painted.  There are skirting boards, door frames and window frames.  As well as doors to be hung!  The ensuite need to be fitted out too.  Lots of finishing jobs.  But this is where we are at in this point of time.


A school shirt waiting patiently for a button to be sewn on and clean washing drying and a basket ready to be put away.  Never ending with a house of mud-loving boys!


Winter time here means washing is hung inside next to the fire.


Aggie has claimed the footstool as you can see.  The winter sun shines on it and she loves it.

I don't have the heart to put my childhood teddy in a cupboard....So he continues to live on my bed.


This is the master bedroom and the room you see there is be the ensuite soon enough - what luxury! We are keeping the house simple, clean and uncluttered.  So when it comes to selling it, people will be able to see themselves in it.  As I sort through things I'm de-cluttering, always down seizing, a never ending process.  Well mostly a picture post today.  I have soup to cook and chocolate cake to bake!

Much love,
Emma
xx 

Self care and self worth.

Self care....We have all heard of the oxygen mask analogy right?  Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on others?

Well in this season since my heart problems I have had to put myself first in a way I have never had to before.  It has been challenging.  It has been difficult to say "no", I have felt guilty, I have felt lazy, and the inner voice in my head has not always been kind.

The thing is, I LOOK well.  Mostly.  And when I feel crappy I pull up my socks, put on a smile and try to get on with it in public.  I have people give me all kinds of advice about needing to exercise to get my energy back, to health supplements (bee pollen anyone?), to people telling me I need to sleep less and its just my body clock messed up.  I gently tell them that my heart is infact weak and fatigued which means its working hard while I am simply at rest.  While on the inside I ache wondering if they think I'm "making it up", if they think I'm infact "lazy"


With the patritian wall down finally the table can be turned.  Now we can sit at the table AND open the fridge door!

For a while there I turned into a hermit, unable to manage much outside caring for myself and my family.  Today I'm pleased to say I'm on the mend - though not *quite* there yet, the good days are becoming more and more frequent.

But the lesson throughout it all remains with me.  I have been humbled.  I'm not invincible.  I can't do it all.  It takes more then will power to overcome some things.  Sometimes we need to strip everything back to the bare basics just to get through it.  Even then the task at hand can seem insurmountable.  I have been in tears from exhaustion at the never ending washing and the energy it took to fold it.  I have been utterly overwhelmed by a small list of necessary jobs needing to break them up into small blocks so I can rest between them.  I have felt like a failure again and again for not being able to manage even the smallest of tasks on a bad day.

The new kitchen/dine/lounge area finally opened up so you can feel and see the space.  

At times deep lonliness has filled my world.  My internal dialogue of self doubt dorwning out the logical knowledge that all my friends know I adore them, and just as I would want them to be at home and care for themselves if the tables had of been turned, that they would want the same for me.

My faith has taken a little battering.  Not that I have ever doubted Gods love and presence through this.  For I always think it is through the difficult times I see his love and grace the most, especially through the actions of those close to us supporting us.  But still its been hard.  It would be a lie if at times I had not felt really pissed off at God for things sometimes being so damn hard.  But I figure, God is big enough to handle that.

Laying the timber floating floors in the new master bedroom.

But as is often the case from hard things there is a deeper lesson throughout this which I have learned.  I have learned to back myself.  I have learned to quiet the inner voice of self doubt.  That doesn't mean it doesn't still exist - it does.  But instead I take the time to acknowledge it, breathe and re-centre myself with a variety of strategies.  Talking to the people who know me best, setting small achievable goals, celebrating the small successes, undertaking small rituals that fill my tank.  Listening to music, diffusing essential oils caring for my indoor pot plants are just a few.  Nothing ground breaking.  But for me it comes down to being conscious and pro-active about my inner "mean girl" if you will.

New wood fire.

So often our self worth comes from what we do.  I have had to leave work, defer study...No longer am I the theological student/chaplain/business partner/capable Mother.  But through being chronically unwell over the last 6 months I have come to realize I am "just Emma"  and actually, that is enough in itself.  Our value does not come from what we manage to successfully achieve, but it is instead something we each poses as part of who we each are and how we were created.  If we are unable to do those things, for what ever reason it does not mean we suddenly become "less".  Those things are not our whole identity.  They are simply the practical way we out work who we are at the core of our being, when we are able too.


The lighting of the first wood fire in the new slow combustion wood heater.

This has been a timely lesson.  As we face the prospect of a big life change, possibly moving interstate, living in a bus while we self build an off grid home....Well we are going to face push back.  In fact we already have.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It means when someone pushes back and we find it uncomfortable we are forced to re-evaluate our goals.  We will either be swayed to a different path because they made good and valid points, or we will come back with a stronger plan and more resolve to forge ahead.  Who we are and what we are capable of doesn't change because of someone else's doubt.

Much Love,
Emma
xx


A catch up!

Sit down, grab a cuppa and lets have a good old catch up!

Things at the little old cottage are MOVING!  We are up to painting the second lounge and master bedroom.  The tiles for the ensuite are on order and by this time next weekend we should be in.  Though the ensuite will not be done which is totally fine.  We have a slow combustion wood fire to heat that part of the house ready to go in just in time for winter.  Next week I shall have some finished room photos to share!  Though I’m keeping it as a blank canvass as we will literally be putting it straight on the market the second it is done.

Next house I keep telling myself.  Next house I can mark it with OUR stamp.





Henry has had a birthday, he is now FIVE!  Can you believe it?  Such a sweet cheerful little fella.  Angus and Will are also going great guns.  There has been an interesting dynamic shift between them all.  Will is transitioning to “tweens” and Angus and Henry are gravitating towards each other and have become great little buddies.  I love listening to them play and create their own little stories togeather.

I was worried when Grant finished up at the shop that with him being home full time that I would find it would challenging.  But I needn’t have worried.  I love having him about and a real sense of peace and contentment has settled upon the home.  We are no longer tired, hurried and stressed.  The boys are more relaxed, and I’m loving having my best mate about to chat with throughout the day and share the little things with him.

(Can you guess Henry's fave lolly?!  Chosen from the original Women's Weekly cook book.)

(Henry with his main birthday pressies from us.  His favourite book the Velveteen Rabbit with his very own Velveteen Rabbit handmade from beautiful mohair from Etsy.)

Farm planning is in full swing.  Researching areas, schools, climates and districts is our latest hobby.
 We have a few bookmarked.

Planning the logistics has been an interesting process.  We have decided that buying a block with no house and then getting a kit home and Grant getting his owner builder liscence through the company is going to get us the best value for money.  The budget will be TIGHT.  We will likely be totally off grid with generator backup for when solar isn't enough..

The biggest challenge is working out where to live while we build.  We want to be together as we are a family that is happier togeather.  Both Grant and I hate the idea of renting and the week to week pressure of coming up with a sum of money, whilst trying to build a house with nothing to show at the end of it.  So after a little pondering and comparing pros and cons of a bunch of possibilities we are going to sell the old Franklin van and buy a big coach and convert it.  Then when we get to the farm build a farm shed and line out a bay as a lounge so the kids can spread out in bad weather.  Then we will have a fantastic bus to travel and holiday in at the end of it all, and we will be able to stay togeather on the farm.  The joy of a bus is that we can pick it and “move” into it before we leave.  Meaning that in theory the final move should be a little less stressful.  Beds will be made, Clothes will be organised, we will have a fully functioning kitchen....A little haven of order amongst what will otherwise be a huge life change.

(little puss pretending she is prowling in the jungle) 

This plan will also allow Grant to work nearly full time on the house build, and ensure any cash we bring in through his bugs/etc can go towards the build and the trades we will need to help like electricians etc.  The bus will be off grid.  A dollar saved is better then a dollar earnt and all of that.  Grant is in the process of getting his articulated, heavy truck liscence and we are hoping this will allow him to pick up a little casual work carting stock or whatever once we move.  That with his business management/shop hand skills and agricultural experience gives him a broad foundation of work avenues to follow should he need it, which we know he will.  I should qualify for a little study allowance next year with my theological studies which will also help.

(Aggie freshly groomed)

So it sounds crazy, and huge, but to us....It’s the natural next step.  The thing we have been working to our whole married life togeather.  I will not however NOT be building a tiny home.  I have done the living in a small space with a family of 5.  All of us sharing a bedroom for months on end.  It is not for us long term, whilst I appreciate the benefits and celebrate those for whom it suits, and I'm more then willing to live on a converted bus for a season.  Our next home It will be a spacious home in which each person will be able to have their little piece of privacy.  Where family and friends can come and stay and a place where the boys will have room to progress through their teenage years togeather.  It will be a farm house, with a big mud room!  I dream of a spacious kitchen and lots of space for food preparation and cooking.  There will be places for hobbies to be explored and developed, Scottish Terrier puppies to be born and raised and no doubt our own share of sick and abandoned baby farm animals that will need to be cared for.

Well I feel I have chewed your ear off!  I best toddle and get on with feeding these boys of mine.
Much Love,
Emma
xx

On the road.

Well we are on the road as I write this.  A full week off and our longest period of time off togeather in-interrupted in 7.5years.  Fancy that huh?

We took the ferry to break up the long driving - the kids loved it! 

We have 3000-4000km to cover this week as we visit dear friends and family in Mt Gambier and NSW.  The old land cruiser has had a good clean, and we found a beautiful set of practically new pure lambs wool seat covers on gumtree specifically for our model of land cruiser with a bench seat for $50!  RRP is up around the $800 mark - SCORE!  We are travelling in luxury, with comfy seats, ipads with Netflix, audio books, air-con, home made sandwiches and double layer chocolate cake and a thermos of coffee.  Fit for the Queen!

On the road....

I remember when we used to travel to NSW when I was a kid in the old Ford Falcon station wagon and we had no air con, I was jammed in the middle of my two big brothers who would give me a dead leg if I dared cross on to “their” part of the seat and I had a little am/fm radio to listen to when it was in range, a book and a few toys.  Oh how times have changed!

The reality of having sold the shop has begun to sink in, Grant is looking more relaxed.  This week marks the end of our official hand over duties that Australia Post requires us to do to ensure the post is not interrupted.  Grant has decided he no longer needs to look neat and tidy so he is embracing his future as a farmer and growing a beard.  I reckon he should go Ned Kelly style, wear a flat cap and embrace his inner hipster which I’m sure is lurking somewhere deep inside.  He however does not find me nearly as funny as I find myself, but alas “such is life”.....Geddit?!  Ha!

................................................................................................................................................................

Tilba lookout.  

Well I started writing this post on the road but had trouble with photo uploading so I’m now back home.  We had a wonderful holiday and saw so much country.  We started off in Adelaide, went to Mt Gambier to see Great Pop, stayed a night at lakes entrance, and off up the coast to Kainga where our friends were.  We loved visiting all the little towns around the region.  We fell in love with Tilba as I think everyone does!  The boys then spent a day with “Auntie & Uncle” surfing at the beach and relaxing while Grant and I visited the Snowy Mountains and did a little farm hunting about various places.... I do think Jindabine may just have my heart.  The country around there is ruggedly beautiful.  Within three hours from Canberra the terrain changes from coastal to bush to rainforest to mountain country.  I do not think I have ever seen such drastic and impressive scenery changes in all my life in such a comparatively short distance.  The boys imagination ran wild as they decided the huge rain forest country might just be home to dinasours still.

Kainga Beach

All in all it was a wonderful trip, and we plan on heading back that way in winter to perhaps do a little more “research”.  What is life if not an adventure right?

Much love,
Emma
Xx







SOLD!

Today is the end of an old season and the beginning of a new.  The shop has officially changed hands.

Aggie sends her love.  

It has been such a long time coming I am unsure what I feel, a lot of things I guess.  To think we are actually going to do all those crazy things we have been talking about and dreaming about for years.  Well it hardly feels real.

I am looking forward to this new season, of hopefully a slower time.  But I am grateful for all the things the business has brought us.  For now I'm going to enjoy spending more time together as a family, of slowing down, camping and simply being together, just being.  

Much love,
Emma
xx 

Nearly sold.

Hello there dear readers.

Well where to start......The shop is due to settle in two days, if everything goes well.  It was supposed to settle two weeks ago but there was a hiccup with the buyers bank.  Can you believe it?  I cannot quite believe it myself after owning the business for the last 7 years.  It has been a good business, our children have grown up behind the counter, chatting to customers and generally causing mild chaos amongst helping with small jobs here and there.

Angus turned 7 and we had a family birthday at home, a visit from friends and a trip to the zoo with our zoo passes.  Introducing the "LEGO head cake"

Angus is fully recovered from his nasty burst appendics and I am still recovering from my heart problems at the end of last year.  Though recovery has been slow and often frustrating I am slowly improving.  My energy is beginning to return bit by bit and I’m beginning to be able to manage more which is truly wonderful.  I’m far from my “normal” but life is getting easier again around here.

I would like to show you inspirational simple living photos.  I would.  But frankly our lives have been about paring back, sleep, and sanity.  Cooking good food when we can, and doing our best with basic thrown together meals when we need.  Seasons and all that.

Our family has certainly learnt to embrace “slow” these last few months!

The boys have turned into professional cubby house builders.

I have been so very tired, and have embraced my introverted side fully.  Simply managing the small day to day stuff has taken everything I have and often more.

We have been looking at properties recently, and researching various aspects of off-grid living and affordable building options so we are ready to move once the little old cottage is finished and on the market.  Things are going to be very tight if we are going to do it all in cash but hey ho, we are always up for a challenge!

I have been too tired to even get out in the garden much, so here is my newest collection.  Indoor plants!  

I’m not going to lie, I am certainly nervous about being unemployed.  Grant will have his trusty wood roach farm which he has been madly expanding in preparation to move and that little business is still going very well.  The roaches even got an air mist fan over the heat of summer to ensure they were at the ideal temperature!  Money is very easy to spend and hard to save, so deciding to live off savings while we finish renovating the house will mean we watching every penny closer then we have ever before.  But challenges are all part of what makes life interesting, yes?

Well my coffee mug is near empty so it’s time I toddled off and got started on my day.

Much love,
Emma
Xx

When it rains it pours, but we are greatful.

Well, apparently when it rains it pours.  It appears this year had one more curve ball to throw at us.  I'm not going to lie when I say hope this was the last one.  

Firstly I would like to start by saying thankyou to all those who commented on my last post, I have not replied to them all but I appreciate your well wishes very much and thankyou all for continuing to follow along.  

On the night of Sunday, the 17th little Angus started screaming in pain after being mildly unwell with what seemed like a slight gastro virus two day prior.  After giving Panadol and Nerurofen with little effect I bundled him into the car and quickly drove him to the hospital 30 mins away.  Once we got there after being assessed and his pain treated with IV fentanyl, IV fluids put up and bloods taken he was transferred via ambulance to the large Women’s and Children’s hospital in the city.  

Angus in the Ambulance.

Once there he deteriorated further over night with appendicitis, they tried to manage his pain, gave strong IV antibiotics which he had a bad allergic reaction too and transferred him to the ward to await emergency surgery in the morning.  Once on the ward they called in the surgeon on call, who debated calling in the on call surgical team to rush him through overnight.   In the end due to the hour, it would have only saved 30 mins or so and the decision was to put him first on the emergency surgery list in the morning.

He came through surgery well with a very good team, but his appendix was burst and the found it was necrotic/gangrenous and that he had a belly full of pus.  My other boys were shipped to their grandparents who are three hours away for the week while Grant managed the post office 1.5hrs away, making the 3hr return commute every night to visit us.  I stayed in hospital with Angus for the 6 nights he was in, and needless to say it made for a long and stressful week.  At one stage I was awake for over 36hours with him.  We were in a share bay of 4 which was not ideal for privacy nor rest but the nurses and staff at the Womens and Childrens were absolutely first rate.  They were thorough, astute, kind, attentive and listened to any concerns I had taking them very seriously.  His bowel was sluggish from surgery and threatened a couple of times to go on strike but we managed to avoid that hiccup.

Recovering post-op.  A DVD offering a good distraction.

At one stage we were unsure if we would make it home for Christmas as Angus was recovering slowly so we prepared to be in the city.  But much to our delight once he turned a coner he picked up very fast and we were allowed home. We were discharged late on Saturday the 23rd and were oh so grateful to be able to go home.  Grant met family and collected the other two boys which was lovely.  Though we would have made the most of where ever we were over Christmas.  For us, if Angus was getting better and getting the care he needed, the rest was secondary.  The reality is Christmas is not special because of the food, nor the place, nor the fanfare that goes with it.  It is special because of the birth of Christ (if that’s your thing as it is ours) and also the people whom we get to remember and share the day with.  

This kid gathered an impressive lego haul from visiting family and friends!

I sent Grant into town on the 24th to face the masses and wrangle up some kind of Christmas fare and we threw together some delicious but simply prepared food on Christmas.  There were oysters and prawns for lunch as a treat, a simple roast and veggies for dinner, a Christmas pudding bought from the shops with homemade custard and gingerbread baked and gifted by dear friends.  It was haphazard and imperfect.  Gifts were wrapped at midnight and stockings stuffed.  We were tired, fragile and worn out.  But it was none the less a beautiful as we were together.


Since being home the last 4 days I have spent a huge amount of time in bed, watching Netflix resting and napping.  I cannot express the love I have for my own bed!  I did not realize it was even possible to feel the kind of exhaustion I felt, still recovering from my own heart problems not even a week prior.  It was not at all the low stress, restful environment the Cardiologist recommended.  But by the grace of God, a wonderful medical team and modern medicines we are both home and slowly beginning to recover.            

On the upside 2018 has gotta be a better start then 2017 ended right?  Also, we managed to get good usage of our ambulance cover this year, so that was very frugal of us.  

Anyway, dear readers, I hope this finds you well and that your Christmas was filled with love, peace and joy.  May 2018 be full of good health for us all!

Much love,
Em
xx    

  

An update

Well, what can I say?

My blog has been very quiet I know, but things have not been here.  Where to start?  I guess I should start with the bad and move to the good.  For we must always look for the good, yes?

We have all been unwell with various viruses/infections/asthma.  The crops here are bad this year.  It has been a stormy start to summer and the storms have broken up the pollens into tiny particles which have badly inflamed everyone’s airways.  All of us but Angus are on preventers, we have all been on antibiotics for one thing or another.  We are chronically run down, one of our staff members has retired which means Grant is now working 12 days straight with two off....ugh.  

I have been particularly unwell, and I was constantly sick at the end of term with one thing or another and not being able to get on top of any of them.  The latest being endocarditis which landed me in hospital with acute chest pain, troponin rises and ECG changes.  I spent 4 nights in hospital while they worked out what was going on and sorted me out on the cardiac ward being monitored.  The staff and the care at the Lyle Mac hospital were wonderful, I was lucky to have a single side room and wonderful friends and family checking in on me and sending their love.  I am home now, though very, very tired.  My chest is still a little achy and I’m on meds for the next few months while the inflammation in my heart all settles down.       


Me looking stunning in hospital, hooked up to the heart monitor.  In my usual form of keeping it real.  Ha!

So, what does that mean?  Well I have been told to reduce stress, apparently my heart is fatigued and weak now though fortunately I will make a full recovery….I’m not sure how to do that with three small boys home on school holidays, a business being sold, a husband working long hours, and a half renovated house.  We cannot bring in more staff as there is no time to train them before hand over at the end of February, so we are simply in a tough season we need to move through the best we can.  I have hired a cleaner weekly for the next couple of months to do the heavy work.  My focus will be on preparing nourishing food, the maintenance cleaning and caring for the boys.


Beautiful flowers given by a dear friend.  

But there is always good among the bad, college is finished and miraculously despite the challenges our family were facing I managed to get distinctions!  Which I was SO proud of.  It got mighty tough at the end but the work I did earlier in the semester held me in good stead.  The boys are mostly on the mend health wise too.  The sale of the business is progressing well, and the buyers finance has been approved.  They are now awaiting their Australia Post training, they have got themselves a good business there and I'm sure they will be an asset to the town.  Family and friends as ever have rallied around us and held us up, I am always astounded and humbled by the beautiful people who surround us.  They are the real gems in life, priceless and precious.  All will be well in a couple of months, it’s a matter of just going with the flow and adapting to the challenges we have at hand.  Taking time to nourish our bodies, our relationships and our souls and letting the rest simply drop away.  Lots of sleep and healthy food are on the cards and a little gentle exercise.  

Diffusing essential oils.  

Christmas?  Well I’m not sure what it will look like yet.  We were planning on visiting family in the country, but I think we will likely have a quiet Christmas at home now.   Just the 5 of us, perhaps go to the beach in the afternoon with a picnic.  My shopping in incomplete, the tree only just up and our usual traditions are not done.  But such is life, all we can ever offer is our best and together we will muddle through.

I hope all is well with you dear readers, Sending much love to you all and Christmas cheer!  May it be a time of delighting in wonderful relationships, love, self-care and good health for you all.  

Much love,
Em
xx    

And we are under contract!!

I know I have been quiet here, too quiet.  But a lot has been happening behind the scenes at the little old cottage.

Princess Aggie tucked up in bed....Its a tough life for a little black bear of a dog!  

As many of the long-time readers will know, we own a small country general store and post office.  It’s been a great little business for us but a few years ago we put it on the market to sell and follow our dreams of buying a farm.

But, like with many plans it was not all smooth sailing.  The economy has been difficult, the banks tightened up their lending requirements.  We have been patiently and not so patiently waiting for the right person to come along. 

Finally, today was that day.  A lovely local couple have signed the contracts, they have already looked into all the ins and outs and we know we are handing the business over that we have loved and nurtured for the last 7 years to good hands.  They are getting a good, solid little business with room to grow as they please.  They are local, and they are lovely, hard working family people. 

So, what now?

Well, we finish renovating the little old cottage as fast as we humanly can and pop it on the market.  Then we buy our long-awaited farm, after a holiday.  

It is surreal. 

I am shaky, excited, terrified, proud, nervous and happy all at once.  I am allll the emotions bursting out of me. 

Since Grant was a tiny child he has dreamed of a farm, and now, finally after 10 years of ups and downs, and slogging our guts out we are nearly there. 

So, what does that mean for this little blog?  Well I’d say it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting as we finish up here, and start on a brand-new family adventure! 

And that my friends, is pretty darn cool.

Much love, 
Emma
xx



A quick reno update!

Here is a quick update on the house reno before the weekend.  The cladding is nearly on the new part of the old stone cottage, and the door is going in.  Its getting there!  We are going camping this weekend in our old vintage van.  Just a quick and easy two night get away, because I am going stir crazy from the same routine and a change of scenery will do us all good.    




I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I shall see you all next week!

Much love,
Emma
xx
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