Farm research/holiday plans!

Well things are continuing to move along at the Little Old Cottage.  We have given the bedrooms at the front of the house a quick coat of paint, finished off the skirting boards and laying the quad so they are now ready for when we put the house on the market in a couple of months time.  In the meantime Will finally has his own room and the little boys are sharing the big bedroom which was the original master.  It is SO wonderful to give Will his much needed space, I'm a little concerned about going tiny whilst we build but knowing it is only for a season I'm sure we will make do.

The cottage now has a shiny brand new roof over both the old section as well as the new section and she is fully insulated for the first time ever in her life, so warm and cozy!  The cottage is going to make a wonderful, warm, comfortable home for her next family.  I will be proud to hand her over when the time comes.

Tess and Aggie enjoying the wood fire.

We have booked a holiday for the first week of the upcoming school holidays to start to seriously look at farms.  (can you believe it?!)  Our goal is to have the cottage on the market in a few short months time so we will need to be able to put on an a cash offer and move swiftly when the time comes.  We are spending about 5 nights in Bathurst with a day trip into Sydney to explore the surrounding district and then heading up to Port Macquarie, Tamworth and another short stop off on our way home, the name of the town escapes me at this moment.  There will be some big days in the car but these boys of mine are troopers.

Aggie in her new knits to keep her warm whilst we are away.  This little terrier hates being cold!

Our goal for our farm is for it to be good value for money, to be close to a good centre, high rainfall and a property suitable for grazing, there will probably be a fair bit of scrub on it.  It wont be perfect, but it will be a starting point from where we can live debit free, and lease further land from if we so desire.  Seeing as we are moving away from friends and family anyway, it leaves the options wide open for where we are willing to move too in many regards.  Its going to be a big move and an even bigger adventure!

Well, on that note I had better get packing.  Our goal is to have the car loaded tonight and head off first thing in the morning.  Wish me luck!

Much love,

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,

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,

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,
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