Let's catch up

Here’s a little look back on some of the days and some of the things that we’ve spent our time on here on the farm during the winter break :-)

December 22nd

I rarely cry about vegetables. But on this day, I found myself doing exactly that. During the night the temperature dropped to around 0 to minus 1 and by pure bad luck on this exact night the kids forgot to close the barn door after giving their rabbits their evening feed and cuddle. So within two days all of my pumpkins started rotting. These I had carefully grown and nurtured all through the dry summer, and even though we had given away huge bright orange pumpkins and soft yellow butternut squashes to every guest and friends who visited us over autumn, we still had a nice supply. But in one night a whole month’s worth of dinner veg was ruined.

December 23-28th

These days always go by in a blur of Christmas visitors and family guests followed by more of the same for our daughter’s birthday on the 27th. I always make an extra effort to create the frame for a wonderful birthday for her, because even though what I need the most at this point is just peace and quiet, she of course is not to blame for being born so close to Christmas.

December 31st

Sore throats, low energy overall, and my husband’s uncertain working hours on the ferry because of a promised storm forced us to delay our new years eve tradition with friends to later in January. Personally, I am not very attached to specific dates, only to good food, a relaxed mood, and great company.

My husband made it home just in time for dinner, and we were all in bed by nine. I did however get out of bed for a little while to sit with Molly downstairs as the fireworks started roaring around midnight.

January 2nd

The whole family walked to the beach huts to observe the sea pounding them to bits and pieces, and then into town to see the ferry floating at street level. I know nature can devastate homes and lives, and I have the deepest sympathy for people who lose everything to natural forces. But I also cannot help but feel more alive when I watch Nature ebbe and flow completely indifferent to us humans.

It is a rather strange thing to look down at the cobble stone streets through 30 cm of sea water.

When we returned home to walk Molly, she promptly killed another one of my hens which had flown over the fence in search for greener pastures. This time it was my beautiful spotted Plymuth Rock hen which was my most prolific egg layer. It is strange how she always manages to grab the ones that are my favourites.

January 3rd

Most fights and arguments in the house both between the kids themselves and between them and me revolve around toys and “stuff”. Organising toys, breaking toys, repairing toys, toys spreading throughout the house, tidying up, wanting new/more toys, etc etc.

If it were entirely up to me, the kids would only get one toy at each christmas or birthday and the rest of the present money would be set aside on their savings account or be used exclusively for experience based gifts, not things. Many members of our extended families feel differently, though.

So on this day I started a “game” with them. They were allowed to pick out 20 pieces each, and ALL the rest would be packed away and stored out of sight in our attic for 3 months.

7 year old Emil displayed a wonderful positive approach, and truly embraced the whole thing as a game. Whereas Ida who just turned 9 (and by far has the most messy unorganised space in the whole house) had a full emotional breakdown facing this challenge. I was forced to sit down for a long rational and consoling conversation with her before we could move on. I kept thinking how her utter dispair at the thought of parting with even one thing in her room, nomatter how rarely she ever plays with it, was a clear sign that she needed this exercise all the more.

After this initial meltdown, they were both completely on board and they really surprised me with their choices. 50% of what they both chose to keep were stuffed animals. In addition to those 20 objects each, they naturally got to keep all of their art supplies, and also got to choose 2 board games each, and 4 books each (we are frequent visitors to the local library which we will continue to be throughout those three months)

In vain I have set rules about where in the house toys are allowed, but they still migrate and are then are never removed or cleaned up again. This mess is the root of SO much frustration and stress for me (visual mess stresses me alot) so much conflict. now that they only have so few toys available I have told them they can play wherever they want in the house, because it will take us literally only 2 minutes to get it all back on the shelves in their rooms before bedtime. This announcement brought big grins of joy. I know how much the kids like to play near me/us, and also their imagination often compells them to use our deep windowsills upstairs for small nests, beds, hideaways etc

My grand hope is of course that when the three months are up they will both know and feel how little they actually need to be happy, we will have an even better routine of imaginative outdoor play than we already do, and that the overall improved mood and interactions in the family on a daily basis will have such a big impact that they too will appreciate us being able to spend more time doing things together than fighting about stuff.

January 4th

I have far too many days where I doubt whether I should have ever had kids. Not because I think mine are any worse or better than the average kid. But because I have doubts about me. I doubt whether I have the patience, kindness, and emotional and psychological stamina within me that it requires to do a great job raising children. I find myself yelling or scolding far more than I want to. But on this calm rather warm winter’s day, my sweet wonderful children helped me plant the last 700 spring bulbs in the orchard and woodland garden. No fuss, no arguments, no bitching, just full speed ahead of dedicated enthusiasm for the job at hand for about three hours straight!!

They made a game of it. I made the holes with my longhandled bulb planter, and Ida and Emil took turns putting in the bulb and putting the soil plug back in the ground on top. Along the way they pretended to be builders, machines, Paw Patrol, explorers, and so much more. Just as it became too dark to see what we were doing, we put in the last bulb. And I let the kids go inside to watch a cartoon on the iPad and eat a piece of chocolate cake while I cleared up, closed the chicken sheds for the night and walked Molly. As an extra bonus, me keeping them engaged for so long meant that my husband had his hands free and was able to make headway on our new kitchen, and if all goes well we should be able to put up the cabinets in the beginning of February.

Some days things just align, and I desperately wish there were more of these. Because the truth is I truly enjoy being with my family. But (perhaps due to my own past) I am super sensitive to conflict and it stresses me out and wears me down that almost every conversation I have with my children is oppositional instead of collaborative.

And then, here we are, well into January. A new year ahead of us. 2018 left me slightly shaky, but I’m slowly finding steady ground, and I feel a little spring brewing inside me now. Again and again, my garden, my very physical and concrete connection to nature and to the seasons, is what carries me through any obstacles and sadness.

Happy New Year!