Monday, December 30, 2013

2013, a year in review.

**Mammoth post warning**

Well, here we are.

Another year almost done and dusted.

Another year to reflect upon, learn from, and move on from.

I really enjoy writing my end of year review postings.  I love returning to the photographs taken throughout the past 12 months, seeing smiling faces and remembering our experiences - the good and not so good.  It seems to be a good way of putting things to rest and clearing the mind, as well as reaffirming we are doing the right thing by our children and family unit as a whole.

So, what have we been up to in the past year.

January began with huge excitement as we welcomed our first new animal additions in the form of half a dozen quails.


A big part of living in the countryside in a property such as this for me would be the animal ownership, so purchasing the quails really felt like quite a milestone.  We had worked hard on clearing the land and tidying up as much as we could in the winter months (having only moved in here the previous October and being greeted by 3 floods within the first 4 weeks of our residence!).   Sadly it wasn't all plain sailing and we lost one of them to a suspected rat or mink attack which left another severely injured.  We were able to nurse the injured girlie back to full health again, but sadly she could never be re-introduced with the others as they refused to accept her.

We made a start with our planned indoor seed planting...


We experienced more flooding...


and snow.  Lots and LOTS of snow...











We loved it!

It also meant many hours of cosy at home time where lapbooks were created...


Reading under blankets was the norm....


The wild garden birds were always well fed and looked after...


They gave us many hours of viewing pleasure.

And home-made 'resources' were created...



I managed to find the time to create a Pollard family needlefelted wallhanging (which now needs to be updated with our new addition).


and we took part in the RSPB's birdwatch...



February led to the arrival of our chickens!  I was no longer a 'chicken-keeper-wannabe', I was a chicken keeper - one of my dreams had been fulfilled!

Babs...


Charlie...


Betsy-May...


and Tallulah...



joined our crew.

We also had our first eggs!

From one of the quails...


and from Charlie chook.


I was a very happy mama, life felt so good.

March arrived and bought with it a flurry of new life.  Things suddenly seemed to get very busy and I loved it.  The house felt really alive and the land almost appeared thankful for the new lease of life we were offering it.  We gained two baby goats to bottle feed in the form of Pixie and Rosie....



They were great listeners apparently...


We hatched our first chick!!!



and we managed to buy a new car.  Finally, we were able to go out as a full family, hurray!!


One of our very first trips out was to the beautiful Dunster Castle.  We are definitely re-visiting Dunster in 2014.



We explored the castle, learnt of it's history and then went out into the gardens where we danced, climbed, steppy-stoned, and smiled...





We also hunted for fungi and admired nature's true beauty...



It was a truly fantastic family day.

Joseph found his father's toolbox and developed an interest in making things from wood.  This was great for his slight dyspraxia tendencies...


A big highlight of our year was the charity abseil event.  Chelsea and I took part in Abseiling 120ft in order to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.  We raised well over £300 and loved the experience hugely.




We had a fabulous Easter Egg hunt, the first in our new home and we sure made use of all the land at our disposal.




We had gorgeous walks by the canal...



and enjoyed the sunlight streaming in through the windows...


It was also, clearly, a very tiring month...


April joined us and we gained more new arrivals...



and our ducks - Bumble, Pip, and Doris.



A few more chickens joined us, and all the girls seemed very happy with their lot...





We visited Paignton Zoo...



 and discovered the joy of the Little Atelier art boxes...




 






And Taisia just enjoyed being with us...


We started digging over part of the garden to make the vegetable patch.  Some learnt how to use the tools...



Whilst others just stood and had a natter...



Kira enjoyed playing...


and we made friends with like-sized things...






I noticed a real change in Joseph.  He suddenly appeared to grow up - both in physical appearance and in personality.  He worked hard on the land and was a huge help with the animals.


and we made use of the greenhouse...
 

 


May came around seemingly all too soon.  We finally managed to clear the driveway and it felt like a massive achievement.  It really opened the space up.


The highlight of May was the arrival of this utterly gorgeous gal...



Heavily pregnant and utterly beautiful, she settled right at home very quickly.  She liked nothing better than spending time with the family...


The weather was rather glorious and lots of time was spent outdoors...



Growth was occurring everywhere we looked...


Molly and Mabel, our home-hatched chicks grew big enough to spend their days outside.


and our beautiful resident Robin graced us with his presence on many occasions.


We also discovered this gorgeous little duckling on our doorstep...


June came along and brought with it a feeling of joy and happiness. 

There were many smiles to be seen...





and gorgeous family walks (cat included!) to be enjoyed...



with stunning views to enjoy...


June was another month of new additions, this time in the form of kittens Jasper and Eddie...





and Poppy finally popped!  She blessed us with two beautiful babies, a boy and a girl.  Both were healthy and well and Poppy was an amazing and happy mama.




We allowed the chickens and ducks to have free-range of our space, and they are now blissfully contented it seems...


and growing!!


This is 'doorstep duck', the growth rate is incredible.


and nature never failed to amaze us...


and my dearest Callum turned a huge 8 years old...


July came along in a flurry and a hurry so it seemed.

It bought with it days spent growing and exploring...







There were happy moments...




Learning moments...












Moments of play...









Quiet times of reading and rest ...





We gained home-grown goodies...



And sheltered from the not so pleasant weather...


And admired things in the sky on sunnier days...



Joseph returned to his woodworking efforts and built a much needed gate...


with help of course...





and eggs were collected daily, far more pleasant without mud and wet stuff ...


We gained a lovely 'working' space...


Experimented with sewing skills...


Enjoyed more family walks...



Looked handsome..


Looked mucky...


Hugged a lot...


Smiled some more...


and experimented...


August saw us celebrating birthdays and our wedding anniversary.




Walks and blackberry picking down by the canal side...






A trip to the amazing (as always) Dawlish Air Show..






Taisia developed a love of puzzles...


whilst I developed a love of knitting hats...




and created a much loved dolly...



Joseph discovered he enjoyed cooking, and created delicious feasts such as this cottage pie...


We had Chicken gatekeepers keeping watch...


and seemingly we grew cats rather well...





We had a lovely few hours at our first encounter of Silverton Street Market, and came home with a few gorgeous goodies...




We collected more eggs, day after day...


Attempted to find that musical bone in our bodies...


and made new friends...


whilst nature continued to bless us with her beauty...


We admired the beautiful views that we are so very blessed with...





Cuddled hamsters...


and made 'hungry caterpillars' out of playdough...


We were blessed with beautiful flutterby butterflies who seemed to enjoy our presence as much as we did theirs....






and we sought out fungi for our nature journal photo collection...




Oh, and we grew a baby!


A huge downside to August was that Lee (husband) had to have a few visits to hospital in order to check out his heart.  Later test results would show that there is nothing to worry about at this stage, relieving the burden of worry immediately. 

September is short and sweet.  Unfortunately I had a terrible fall down some stairs and as a result cracked a rib and bruised a lung.  Nasty.  I spent a lot of my September lay down rather uncomfortably with very limited movement.  Being 8 months pregnant is often uncomfortable enough, 8 months pregnant with an injury and little people relying on you is no fun at all.  Even talking was greatly inhibited due to the lung damage.  I was breathless, in agony and suffering, but I knew it wouldn't be forever.  I needed to do whatever it took (in this case complete rest) in order to have a successful natural labour.  It was a worrying time, made even worse by seeing the stress my husband was being put under trying to care for me, run the household, look after the children and work full time.  At that time we were still awaiting the heart test results.  

An amazing September moment came in the form of my first prenatal hospital visit. I hadn't gone through the usual pregnancy appointments and visits with midwives.  I chose to let nature take it's course and even refused the routine scans.  I didn't even inform the Doctor of my pregnancy until around 34 weeks gone.  Bless him, he really didn't know what to do as normal procedure went out of the window.  As I wanted a home-birth without a fight, I agreed to have a scan to check the positioning of everything and ensure all was well and there would be no nasty surprises.  All was seen as absolutely ok and I have to say I was relieved that my 'gamble' of trusting own instincts had paid off.  This relief was heightened in October. 

October brought with it the the greatest gift of all, in the form of the arrival of our beautiful 6th child and 4th daughter, Amara Rose.







We did yet more walking, and loved spotting more of nature's bounty...








I did more knitting...




and I got back into my mixed media art (this is not yet finished)....


We had a fair bit of just general everyday fun...




At times it was chilly enough to have a nice cosy fire...


and at other times we needed to play hospitals (it's an oxygen mask of course!)


Of course, October also means a certain little lady's 3rd birthday.




 and Halloween!




November seems to have passed by in an absolute blur.  I remember there being lots of Christmas planning and preparations as I fought desperately not to leave things to the last minute.  Trying to stay focused and organised was the November motto and on the whole that was achieved - rather surprisingly.

It appears the month will be remembered for furry hat wearing...



Wet doggy walking...

and silly goats...


November was also the month that Chelsea reached the big 18!  Wow, how amazing is that?  How did she fancy celebrating the transformation into adulthood?  Party with friends?  Night out drinking?  Nice meal? Nope.  It just so happened that the 23rd November was the Day of the Doctor and she wanted to go to the cinema to see the Dr Who episode with a friend and Joe.  Bless her.

Chelsea went to a college interview in this month in the hope of gaining a place on a psychology course.  I am so proud of her.  Not only did the college staff instantly take a liking to her, they also advised against her chosen course as it 'would bore her' and suggested she study for a uni level entry course instead as it would be more her academic level.  They have invited Chelsea back for another interview with the University department around Easter time but see absolutely no reason at all why she won't be accepted.  It appears she is already on the role call as she got sent a Christmas Card and festive choccie through the post as a seasonal welcome gift from the staff.  

The month was completed with a lovely walk into the village to visit the Christmas Fayre.  It is a 6 mile round trek but the scenery is gorgeous.  The lanes were quiet and we just ambled along quite pleasantly.

December saw the arrival of Sydney the Elf. 

Sydney had been sent to us by Father Christmas as he was a bit of a pesky little fella and in need of keeping an eye on.  He is due to go back to Santa on New Years Eve, but during his stay here (when not been taken to bed by Taisia who likes to cuddle him!), he has got up to a few cheeky stunts...

 

 


 

 

 





We chose our tree and dressed it...



and enjoyed the warmth of a real fire...



Time was still found for computer learning and play...


and for strolling along the lanes with big brothers...


and we decided you are never too old to make paperchains...



 We started to be blessed by the most precious of smiles...


Creating uplifting happiness at just a single glance.

Christmas Eve was a rather jolly affair.  Here it is so much more than the eve of the big day as it is also Joseph's birthday.  This year Joe reached the magical age of 16.  SIXTEEN?!  Oh my, just how does it happen??




We baked numerous goodies, making batches of mince pies, fairy cakes, festive shortbread shapes and jam tarts.  It was a real family team effort with lots of helping hands...





We continued with our tradition of a Christmas Eve box...


This year's box contained sooooo many goodies.   The box had to be huge!  There were slippers and pyjamas for all 6 kiddos, chocolates, popcorn, new mugs, hot chocolate powder, marshmallows and much much more.  It was definitely a big hit and something that we shall continue doing year after year.

Of course, it goes without saying that Santa visited our humble abode...


The children were all gifted with wonderful goodies.  New mobiles for Joseph and Chelsea, a Nexus 7 tablet for Tiegan, a student Violin for Callum, and a wooden kitchen for Taisia.  Dear Amara got showered with lots of small gifts suitable for little fingers. 













Christmas for us meant wonderful together time, watching faces light up at gifts no matter how small (Taisia announced her favourite gift of all was the chocolate orange!), and being able to relax and enjoy our time as a family.  Of course, food was in abundance. 

Boxing Day is, for many people, a day of rest and recovery.  In our household it's another party day.  This time it is Tiegan's turn and this year she reached the ripe old age of 12.  


All in all 2013 has been a pretty decent year for us.  The health scares have come to nothing (so grateful for that) and life has just ticked along nicely.  I am so very much looking forward to see what 2014 has in store for us as a family, I have high hopes that it is going to be a really good year for us and I look forward to sharing our days with you all.

When I look back as I type all of this, I love seeing the smiling happy faces and the way that our life has changed and evolved and the way it continues to do so.  I love that we are able to give such opportunities to our children - the birthing of a variety of animals, not learnt about from textbooks whilst sat at a desk, but from real life, hands on experiences.   Pre-October 2012 I wouldn't have thought such a life would have been possible.  We had spent hours talking about how lovely it would be for the children to be able to collect eggs daily and use them fresh in our baking for example, and how great it would be if the children were able to enjoy the freedom such a lifestyle bestows upon us.  Here we are, living the life we dreamed of.  And this isn't the half of it.  There are so many things we do, so many discussions we have, so many experiences we enjoy that don't make it to this blog.

It isn't all champagne and roses.  It's hard work.  Physically it's tough, mentally it's exhausting.  There is always something needing to be done, always repairs to be made, animals to tend to.  No matter the weather, the severe storms or snow, the heat or the hail, animals rely on us for their needs and they have to come first - ahead of that nice warm bath that calls to us.
I wouldn't change it for the world - seriously.

Happy New Year everyone, sending you all lots of love and blessings from our house to yours - and thank you so much for reading xxxx

12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! Best wishes for 2014. xx

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  2. You and your family inspire! Much gratitude to and love for you all! Best wishes for the new year!

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  3. Gorgeous pictures! Happy New Year to you all!

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  4. Loved reading about your year. You're such a lovely family, hope 2014 is even better for you all. Best wishes, Penny x

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  5. Brilliant post. I am very excited as just starting our journey. Thanks for sharing. Sara x

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  6. Lovely to read, so glad that you are all so happy.

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  7. What a beautiful blessed year. x

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  8. So loved reading this :-)

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  9. What a fab post Julia. Hope you all have a great new year all the best for 2014
    Cindy+the tribe.

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  10. fab post and great pictures- may 2014 be even better for you and yours ! x

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  11. Happy New Year to you and your family hope 2014 is as good as 2013 (bar you falling badly and hubby not being well) and well done Chelsea, looks like a good year indeed.

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