Monday, April 30, 2012

Painting - End in sight

Given I feel like I've been painting forever, when it's really only been 3 weeks in between baby sleeps and the daily demands of Muddy Hubby and the Muddy Tribe, I am now feeling like the end is almost in sight.

I've been thinking about how crap a painter I am (I really don't know how people do it as a job, I take my hat off to them) and I have some handy tips if you're thinking of embarking on any painting jobs any time soon, especially with kids around.

- Don't let Hubby seal the paint tin back up, it's likely he'll forget he said he'd do it and before you know it one of the kids will have tipped the tin over and you'll have even more paint to clean up.
- Best not to let him open it either, as he'll get such enthusiasm up for the job that he'll dent the lid and the rim, meaning you can't properly seal the tin back up and will have to do more painting in a small space of time to use up the tin before it hardens with a now unsealable lid.
- Have at least 2 or 3 rollers or brushes, chances are your first one won't have dried before Baby has their next sleep and you want to go painting again.
- If you're getting new carpet it's a perfect time to paint before the carpet goes in, you don't have to worry about drop sheets, and can even wipe your hands on the carpet in emergencies and you don't have to stress about it.
- As much as the kids would like to help - don't let them. Wall paint does not wash out of clothes and takes a few days to get out of hair.
- If you've asked Hubby to look after the kids while you get some quick trim painting done, make sure he understands what you mean, not 'yes I know where they are', otherwise you'll have kids running around your feet, bumping into freshly painted walls and trim and you'll have more paint to try and get off their clothes and out of their hair.
- Avoid the cheap paint hubby wants you to use up to get it our of the cupboard if you can. It's thin and takes about twice as many coats to look as good as the quality paint you would have bought, so you've wasted your time by having to do two extra coats.
- Do not pick a paint colour by solely looking at the Dulux colour charts on the website. You'll be disappointed and it won't look anything like you were hoping it would.
- Follow Shannon Lush's advice and use Clove Oil to get rid of bathroom mould, but be prepared for your house to smell for days and days like cloves.
- While Feature walls are nice, they're fiddly and mean more edging, more brushes and more tins of paint to clutter up your laundry and spill out onto the verandah.
- Think of the people who may move in after you and want to paint, light colours are easier to paint over, browns, blues, dark greens all suck to try and paint over, meaning you end up with either and undercoat or extra coats of paint til the colour you've chosen looks right.
- If you can afford it, get a professional in, you'll probably be happier with the result, less stressed and your hands and hair won't look like you've had a bad manicure and hair dye job.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Love a Good Challenge

What I love most about the Internet and blogging is that it helps drive me to be a better person, work harder to achieve goals and fulfill challenges. And there is always a challenge and I love it when I find one I love. I put my hand up to complete Clairey Hewitt's Handwriting Challenge (because you know Handwriting is the new black!). It meant 6 handwritten notes/letters/messages in 6 weeks. For me this challenge was perfect and meaningful, which is why I didn't hesitate to sign up.

My Grandmother and her two sisters wrote two letters to each other every week for as long as I can remember, until the week my Grandmother passed away aged 92. They lived in 3 different cities and it was their way of keeping in touch and hearing the family gossip. When my Grandmother passed away I kept up the tradition (although a lot less frequently) of writing to both her sisters. I sent them photos of my family and the farm, with little notes or long letters depending on how busy I was. With the chaos of my family I hate to admit I got a little slack and it has been a while since I've written. So for the first two letters of the handwriting challenge I have written to my Grandmother's sisters, aged 95 and 93. I pulled out my favourite stationary which I bought for just such a purpose and I wrote them each a letter, put in a few photos and will put them in the mailbox on Monday for the postman to collect and post in town.

For my next letter I'm focusing more on my friends, near and far. I just love the written word, it is always so exciting to receive a handwritten letter, no matter how long or short, it somehow seems so much more personal and you know it comes from the heart. Can't wait to write my next handwritten letter!

My Grandmother and her two sisters on the left

My Grandmother and her two sisters at one of the last times they saw each other face to face

I love a good bit of stationary

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One of the things....

One of the things I am not loving about living where we live at the moment is my Internet access. We're on satellite Internet, which means we have a big dish on the roof. This also means that it's nowhere near as fast as some other Internet options. It also means that when it's overcast the service sucks, when it's windy there's often no service, and sometimes for no good reason the dish on our roof stops talking to the satellite in the sky and we get absolute zilch, zippo, nothing. Now the Internet service provider flatly denies any of this, says weather and wind do not affect the service. I disagree.

But rant now over, for all the little things that drive me batty living out here or give me cause for utter frustration, there are so very many more good things. My good thing for this week has been the complete turnaround from sunset to sunrise.

This was the sunset on Monday night, breathtakingly beautiful. The Muddy Kids and I went outside to feed the dogs, pigs and chooks and dawdled for ages just watching the beautiful sunset and chasing the animals.

The next morning we woke up to this awesome Fog. The first fog for the year for us, not a pea soup fog like I can remember growing up in Sydney, but a hazy, ethereal fog. It didn't last long, by the time I'd dropped the Muddy Organiser at the bus stop it was almost gone, chased away by the sun.

It's these little things that remind me how I love living where we live, and help stop me yelling at the Internet service provider in frustration. Just don't ask me how long it took to actually upload these photos!

What are some of the little things that you love about living where you live?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Totem Tennis!

An Oldie but a Goodie and a current favourite in the Muddy Household.

Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Famous First Words

I love this age that Muddy Bubby is at, he's off and exploring his little world, pulling himself up on absolutely everything. If you stop for a second you will have a Muddy Bubby using you to stand up with. He's covered in bruises where things have moved as he's been pulling himself up on them or his Muddy big sisters have knocked him over in their rush to help him.

What I love most though is the babbling, he's at that very special point where he's shifting from the random sounds to strings of babble, those first sounds that will eventually turn into words. And of course the first string of babble 'dadadadad'. Not once in four children has that babble been 'mumumum' despite the fact it's easier to say, despite the fact that he would hear it at least 1000 times a day as his Muddy Sisters call it out for this or that or just because. Despite all that he's babbling 'dadadad' and Muddy Hubby is walking around proud as punch.

It is special this time, it won't be long and he'll be calling out 'MUM' along with the rest of them and I'll be wishing him back to this time when he's babbling away with a 'dadadad'. I'm waiting though, just waiting, for that very special first word, no matter what it may be. I have a sneaking suspicion though it might be 'tractor', I could have sworn it almost came out of his mouth the other day, clear as anything, I think he's been spending a bit of time with his Dad!

It's a bit hard to get Muddy Bubby to smile at the camera, at the same time as Muddy Hubby
 Do you remember your little one's first words or even your own?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

You know I never really understood the meaning of that saying 'til I moved to the farm. This is what's been keeping Muddy Hubby busy this week, up early home late, making Sorghum Hay while the sun shines, trying to get it done before it rains. We haven't seen much of him, except for quick trips up the paddock to drop his esky off.

First it's cut

Then it's raked

Then it's baled


Then you have a paddock full of hay bales

Then it's time to play
How many family members fit on top of a bale?
The next job is to cart them all in and line them up in rows, waiting for a big drought that will use them up pretty quick (they say there's one coming).

Do you have a favourite saying?
What's been keeping you and your family busy?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Non-Verbal Tango

I was chatting to a friend recently about just how much we communicate with our husbands through a look or an action, so much is conveyed without words, like a dance back and forth. It's not that Muddy Hubby and I don't talk, in fact we talk lots and lots, several times a day (thank you phone plan for free calls to each other) but more and more there are non-verbal communications going on, our non-verbal tango.

These are not always communications I love, but at least the message is getting through. The other day Muddy Hubby let me know his work clothes needed washing, not by asking me to do a load, or by putting them in the machine, but by leaving the lid of his washing basket open, with clothes strategically draped to hang over the edge. Message received, I've almost run out of undies!

Then there's my messages to him, given he's been getting home after we're all tucked up in bed, I leave his dinner in the microwave and he heats it up and eats alone. So he will stack it in the dishwasher and turn it on, I leave the dishwasher door open, with it all turned on and ready to go as soon as he puts his plate in and shuts the door. If the door was not open, it would be placed on the sink and the dishwasher forgotten in his tired state.

The non-verbal tango I love the most though is the one when we're out and about. If one of us is heading to the bar, a quick look with a movement of the hand towards the mouth, a nod or a shake of the head in reply, with some lovely thank you eye contact. The look of I'm bored when I can see he's stuck talking to an old granny and he's having trouble following along. The look of love when he's saying I just want to be alone, just the two of us, not stuck out at a boring dinner. Then at the end of the night, when we've both had enough that incline of the head 'are you ready to go?', or it's a touch that can covey so much, 'you OK', 'you ready to go?', 'I love you'. message sent message received, our non-verbal tango.

Do you have a non-verbal tango with your partner?
What's your favourite non-verbal communication?
Is it about the house work or when you're out and about?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tearing my hair out!

This week has been a long one. Or at least it's felt that way. I'm not sure whether it's school holidays and work on the house that have all combined to turn my delightful Muddy Puzzler into a Muddy Wrecking Ball. Maybe it's that she's now competing for attention with the Organiser and the Pixie who are home from School and Preschool. Maybe it's that she knows she's only got a few months left of the terrible two's and she's going to make the most of it. Maybe it's the work I've been doing on the house that I've been neglecting her and she's a bit bored. Maybe she's tired of the games we're playing and we need to mix it up a bit. Whatever it is, it has me tearing my hair out, quite literally, as I pull paint out of it that's been splashed in it by my Muddy Puzzler.

This week alone she has wreaked havoc in my household and shredded my patience with the following activities:
  • Tipping over a 10L tin of paint that Muddy Hubby had failed to seal fully, resulting in a big pile of paint to clean up and get splashed around (hence the paint in the hair)
  • Emptying Muddy Hubby's aftershave all over herself so she still smells like Chanel Allure for Men 3 days later
  • Painting toothpaste all over the new bathroom walls and door, I'm told she was trying to polish it
  • Painting toothpaste all over the bedroom carpet (not sure how she got hold of the toothpaste)
  • Losing the key to the local tip, so we can't take the rubbish and recycling to the tip until we find it
  • Running the water tap in the bedroom for a good while while I fed Muddy Bubby, depleting our rain water tanks which are getting a bit low
  • Climbing the painting ladder and falling off the top (I only turned around for a second!)
  • Sneaking the sticker book into the car and decorating the interior with stickers
  • Spraying Muddy Hubby's deodorant all over our bedroom, including the photo frames
  • Spreading the Muddy Organiser's Lip Smacker all over her face (resulting in tears for the Muddy Organiser)
  • Pulling all the photo frames down in her bedroom and pulling out all the photos
  • Stamping the office 'Paid' stamp all over herself and the office (not sure how she got it down from the top shelf)
Today topped it all off for me, she decided that her Baby Brother needed a little bit of attention, after she had finished colouring in her toenails in blue texta and decorating her lips with red texta she decided to draw on Muddy Bubby with blue texta. I don't think he minded, but it probably isn't the best of looks when we go out for a play date tomorrow.

Proud to show off his decorated face to Muddy Hubby when we ducked up the paddock
We have headed outside whenever we can to let the Muddy Kids run off some energy and have some fun in the sun. My plan at the moment is to keep her within a couple of metres and eyesight at all times (not really sustainable though) and to spend the remaining few days of holidays outside, where there is only a minimal amount of mischief that she can get into, surely?!?!?

Come on, please tell me she's not the only one getting into mischief?
Do you have any tricks for keeping kids busy and out of mischief, please share if you do!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Honest Are You With Your Kids?

Muddy Puzzler keeping an eye on Muddy Hubby crutching

Muddy Organiser in the wool at shearing time

Lately I've been thinking a lot about honesty with kids. Yesterday even more so when we were talking with the Muddy Pixie, Muddy Hubby was carrying a shovel and the conversation went something like this:
Muddy Pixie: 'Dad why do you have a shovel?'
Muddy Hubby: 'To dig a hole'
Muddy Pixie: 'Like to dig a hole to put Mr H in when he died'

Not - 'like when we plant flowers in the garden' or 'like when we're planting our veggies', it was straight to the big cemetery plot!

We have always been pretty upfront with our kids, when a friend and neighbour passed away recently we talked to them about what happened and the process of a funeral. We talked about how people age and some times people die young, we talked about how at a funeral we go to remember the person and say our final goodbyes. We talked about the coffin and the burial and cremation for some people.

In our house the Muddy Kids see life in all it's form. They help us put the Rams in the paddock and understand that they have to get together with the Ewes to make Baby Lambs. They've seen sheep get sick and die, they know that when we weigh lambs to find the heavy ones, that we then load them on the truck to send to the saleyards, and that most likely they're going to be turned into lamb chops or a nice roast.

Then there's the pet pigs that we fed up and then sent away to be made into pork roasts, ham and bacon. The girls knew they were going and when we picked the boxes up from town they asked to see them, we talked about how 'Bacon' and 'Chook Eggs' had been turned into meat that we could eat.

Is it too much honesty though. Should we be sugar coating it a bit more, letting them think that the lambs are going to live in a paddock with more feed or that the pigs have run away to another farm? Or is it better to be completely honest, so there's no surprises later on?

How honest are you with your kids? How do you explain death and funerals to them?
Do your kids know where their meals come from?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Painting, Sanding, Painting and More Painting

Now I do love my old little farmhouse, but before you get all 'aww a nice old farmhouse' it's not like one of those at all. It's not one of those lovely big sprawling farmhouses, nor is it an old sandstone one. It's a little weatherboard that has been added on and added on, with verandahs closed in and a toilet put inside. We have gradually over the last 7 years done little jobs to help make it a bit more homely and comfy for us and the four Muddy Kids. The biggest of these jobs has been closing in the bathroom, by taking out the window from when it used to be the outside of the house. The verandah is now my office and the kids rooms are off the office. Really it's a bit of a rabbit warren. But a rabbit warren I do love. EXCEPT for the weatherboards.

While the louvres used to be the bane of my existence and I hated cleaning them and all the dust they'd let in, we have replaced them with proper windows, much to my delight. It is now the weatherboards that are the bane of my existence. With 3 verandahs being closed in to now be part of the house I have LOTS of weatherboards to paint. One verandah I was lucky to get out of painting while I was pregnant with Muddy Organiser. The other two I have not been so lucky. At the moment I am covered in paint splatter, I have paint in my hair and over my work clothes. For you cannot roller weatherboards, they have to be painted by hand. This means a lot of time, to make sure you've covered every part of the weatherboard. They are loooooong walls and my poor Muddy Kids have been a little neglected as I plow through the painting in an effort to get it done before the new carpet goes down.

Muddy Hubby has been able to step in for short periods of time to take some of the kids out and about on the farm while I paint, but for the remainder they have been TV kids, and are getting used to me saying 'Just let me finish this section' before we can eat or get games down. Again, like the bathroom I know it will be worth it, it's been good to keep my arms going while bootcamp is on holidays too!

I do wonder though, who invented weatherboards and why? They gather dust and dirt easily, they are a pain to paint and if they're on the outside of the house require even more painting than my inside ones do. Was it just for looks, did they think 'that's a nice look, we're not going to have to worry about the upkeep' or do they actually serve a purpose?

Where our bathroom window used to be

Where new meets old, looks like the house used to be painted blue

Popping in to see how long til we can have morning tea!

Do you have weatherboards to paint too?
Have you got a rabbit warren of a house or is yours more streamlined?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Good Old Fashioned Party

Yesterday saw myself and the Muddy Kids attend a lovely 4th Birthday Party morning tea for one of Muddy Pixie's little friends. It was low key with only close friends invited (mind you we all have between 2-4 kids so there were quite a few kids running around). There was no big theme, there were a few balloons, the usual backyard toys (plus chooks and a puppy), pass-the-parcel, musical statues and an ice cream cake. Simple, enjoyable party goodness.

The kids used their imaginations and created their own games, they ganged up girls vs boys to take over the tent filled with balloons, the girls held strong for a while until the boys launched a strong campaign and the balloons were no more. The boys played policeman, and hunters, while the girls played princesses and fairies. They all busted some moves under the clothesline to the music, some moves which left us all wondering 'where did they learn how to do that?'.

It reminded me so much of when I was a kid and went to parties. My kids had a ball, Muddy Bubby included, they collected a small lolly bag at the end and came home exhausted, having run around and enjoyed just being kids. Sometimes when life is rushing by so fast and everything is pushing kids to grow up quicker than we are ready for it's nice to be reminded of simple old fashioned fun and to sit and relish in the kids enjoyment.

Do your kids get to go to parties like we did when we were kids?
Or is it all about the 'theme' nowadays?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pot Pie

The weather has turned cold, the blustery windy cold, where the sun is still shining but the wind dries out your skin and lips and you have rosy red cheeks and feel chilled to the bone. For me this means comfort food, warm hearty meals that fill you up and warm you from the inside out.

My favourite Pie to make at the moment is Chicken Leek and Bacon Pot Pies. My friend and neighbour gave me this recipe after we had dinner there last winter and it has become a regular in our household, especially in cold weather.

40g Unsalted Butter
1 tbs Olive Oil
3 Leeks (pale part only), thinly sliced
4 bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped
800g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
1tbs plain flour
Pinch of nutmeg
200ml chicken stock
300ml light sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbs lemon juice
4 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

The Filling:
Heat the butter and oil in a pan over low heat. Add the leek, bacon and chicken and cook, stirring for 6-8 minutes until the leek is soft and the chicken is almost cooked. Stir in the flour and nutmeg and cook for 1-2 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the stock, increase heat to medium and bring to the boil. Season, then remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, lemon juice and parsley. Cool completely.

Putting It Together:
Preheat the Oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Cut two 1cm  strips from the side of each pastry sheet. Set aside. Cut pie lids from the remaining pastry, 1 cm wider than the top of the 300ml pie dishes or ramekins. Divide chicken mixture among dishes. Press pastry strips around the rim of each dish to make a 'collar' and brush with some of the egg. Carefully top with pie lids, press firmly into the collar to seal, then trim edges if necessary. Make 2 cuts in each pie top, then brush with remaining egg. Bake the pies for 20 mins or until puffed and golden.


* I used small ramekins for the kid's and my pies and used bigger bowls for the men's pies. When I've used them for dinner parties I've made them in small ramekins and served them up with green veggies.
* As there is lots of sauce I often throw in veggies like broccoli, peas or corn, before throwing them in the oven.

What's your favourite winter warmer?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Dad's Little Helper

While Muddy Hubby works he has an overseer to make sure he's doing the job right!

Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Easter Bathroom

One of my favourite types of shows to watch are those home renovation ones, I loved the original couple of series of The Block where they did most of it themselves, and I loved The Renovators, especially the houses where they did it themselves, rather than just getting the tradies in. So I was a little bit excited when Muddy Hubby said we were going to fix up the bathroom, take out the window that joins the office and plumb a proper shower into the wall!!

It didn't take long for my illusions about renovating to be shattered. I knew it was going to be hard work, I knew it would take longer than the Easter Weekend (even though Muddy Hubby was certain it would be done by Easter Monday!). What I wasn't prepared for was the nightmare of plumbing in an old farm house that has been added on and added on, and dodgy pipes and a 39 year old hot water system that chose to give up the ghost while we were working on the bathroom, or the toilet that decided to block up and continually overfill my septic system. It's these little bits that have made for a stressful experience, that and intermittent water with 4 kids and 4 adults in the house!

But onward we pressed, through Good Friday and Easter Sunday, one trip to Bunnings and one Chinese takeaway, a little bit of escorting the tractor, a lap in the tractor hay cutting for Muddy Hubby and several drinks and days later we can see an end in sight. I hope! There is now no leaks in the pipes, sheeting on the walls and they have started tiling. I have a new Solatube and exhaust fan. I am busying fixing up the office side, sanding walls, puttying and soon to be painting. Hoping to finish before the new carpet goes in from the flood damage! Big expectations, yes, sleepless nights yes! I keep repeating 'It will be good when it's finished!'. I'm looking forward to a hot shower, and giving the kids a big bubble bath.

Have you renovated? What were your little hiccups that made it last longer than you planned?
Or did you have a dream run?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Term One Over!

Yesterday marked the end of my Muddy Organiser's first term at school. The end of 10 weeks of getting up, getting dressed, racing to the bus, ironing uniforms, polishing shoes, packing news, packing bank books, remembering swimming clothes and homework folders.

This was her after her first day of school, rushing inside to tell Dad and her sisters about her first day!

This was my Muddy Organiser arriving home yesterday - exhausted! It took me a while to wake both of them.

It has been a fantastic start to her schooling life. In one term she has grown up so much and soaked up so much into her brain like a little sponge. She can now write her name without copying, count up past ten, know what comes after 50, if I help her remember 50, order her lunch from the canteen, read some sight words, read her homework readers, remember the names of almost all the 30 kids in her class plus the names of other kids in the school. My Muddy Organiser has made new friends and cemented strong bonds with old friends, she has turned from a little girl into a 'big' school girl. She plays more calmly with her sisters and brother, she is more polite at home and takes more care in her actions.

I am incredibly proud and amazed at how far she has come in such a short space of time, so can only imagine how much more she will have learn, grown and changed by the end of the year. For now we are all exhausted, we have no plans to go anywhere for a few days. We want to recharge our batteries as well as the Muddy kids, and get some work done on our bathroom, so our house can semi go back to normal. No holidays away, just enjoying spending time at home as a family, before the chaos starts again in 2 weeks.

Are your kids exhausted like mine?
Are you going to spend the first week of holidays staying home like we are?
Or are you more adventurous?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Let's Go Fly a Kite

From one of my all time favourite movies as a kid - Mary Poppins

'Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!'
- Robert Sherman

It's all good until it gets stuck up a powerpole!
Maybe we should have listened to Muddy Hubby and taken them all the way out into the paddock!

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys