Christmas Countdown

Only eight more sleeps to go…This year I really wanted to initiate Kazuo into the counting down to Christmas that was such a cherished part of my childhood.  He is still acquiring the capacity to deal with delayed gratification, so this has been an interesting lesson.  I did feel that having a tiny treat each day might just help to pass the time and fend off any attempt to try opening the presents under the tree, or raid ‘the secret place’ upstairs where the unwrapped gifts were being stored away.

But I didn’t want to just pick up some over-commercialised, once-only cardboard calendar (though I realise that would have done the trick admirably).  In the spirit of establishing a tradition, I made a Christmas Countdown…  Out with some stamps, some garden pegs, some leftover fabric from my bridesmaids’ skirts and Kazuo’s birdy blanket, a little ribbon and twenty-four tiny little treasures and hey presto:

When we presented it to Kaz on 1 December and mounted it on the wall, we explained that each day there was something to eat, something to do or something to wear.  [This year this translates as Chocolate Penguins, stickers, tree decorations, bubble blowers and some cutsey little badges]. He has been quite excited about opening the Countdown-Thingy each day and we have made a little ritual out of it.

Last weekend we collected our Caring Christmas Tree and decorated the house for the festive season.  This year Kaz was not so phased by the spiky needles, and was keen to help put up decorations, though he did have a charming propensity to put them ALL on the same branch at his height…but with a little help from mama and dada they are now evenly re-distributed.  He was VERY pleased with himself afterwards.

This past week has  been full of wintery tummy bugs.  First Kazuo (all week – he is on the mend today, but it was a long week for him I think) and now Mama.  We are now hoping that we are not having to quarantine ourselves for the festive season, and hope to have the door open to you if you care to drop by and celebrate with us.  Happy holidays.  Hope you enjoy the rest of the countdown!

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This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Have a wonderful weekend.

 

See other inspiring moments at Soule Mama.

We’re Have I Been All This Time…

Longest break I’ve taken in a while…somehow, at the end of a week at the keyboard, it is kinda hard to make time to pop in here.  Silly me.

Weekends have taken on a new measure of quality family life now that our time all together is really limited to breakfast and dinner/bath/stories/bed.  We ALL look forward to those weekends.  Since I last checked in we have had a few adventures.

April was our Scottish Summer this year I think.  So one weekend we took advantage of the delightful weather and strolled along the Fife Coastal Path

with our new friends Tomandsuzie (not to be confused with Tomandclaire) and our wee tots to the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem.

Then we made some essential modifications to the chicken coop so that the girls could get up and go to bed without our help (esp helpful now that it is light around 4.30am and dark at 10.45pm)…and so that a helpful undergrad could come in and feed them whilst we made our first UK road trip to visit Tomandclaire in Manchester.  During this balmy weekend we managed an outing to the local RSPB reserve…

…and HeatonPark which had the added bonus of a tiny farm and a playground.

The following weekend was the Royal Wedding – and though none of us are particularly royalist in persuasion…there is something kinda lovely about a wedding…so I managed to make a cuppa and turn on the TV for some of the proceedings – though I did have a lot of interference from the easily distractable male members of the family.  We followed up the festivity with our first BBQ of the season – though the weather was not so great then, and has not really picked up since.  Sigh…

Later on we even managed a spot of garden planting.  As per usual, the little herbies are doing great.  But after an unseasonably warm April, May has been so cold that not much else has survived the transfer to the cold little garden patch .  Apart from the fabulous radishes we harvested this week.

The big news of the month was QPR (the Doctor’s football love) were promoted to the Premier League.  Whilst sport is still really something I do not understand…this was an event worth celebrating – with chocolate cake and bubbles!

And the other big news was the big-boy bed.  We took the sides off the cot…and Kaz has pretty much settled into a rhythm of sleeping in his own little space.  We have to lie down by him now to get to sleep…but that usually happens pretty quickly.  He has fallen out several times, and one night I stepped on him in the dark (oops) and another night he fell over all his toys trying to get out the door in the dark…but slowly we have made adaptations and sleep IS happening.  Now onto potty training…

Our final news is the galvanising into action on the house-hunting front.  We have been out most weekends looking for a permanent home.  A frightening and enlightening process.  We think we have narrowed down the area we would like to live in…and this charming village has caught our eye…

…Kaz has so far loved going to see houses, esp when we come across a playground en route

…but it will probably take us most of the summer to find something we are sure about…so no move imminent yet!

So…a big update.  Sorry it was so long…and I was absent for so long…hope to mitigate that in future.  It all got a bit hectic there for a while.  Happiness to you and thanks to those of you who kept popping in to see how we are doing.  I will try to be back here more often in future!

How Are Those Chickens Getting On?

Eleven weeks ago we brought our little brood of rescued battery chickens home to roost in our yard.  Since then they have thrived in ways I never imagined – though we did hope, from the British Hen Welfare Trust paraphernalia that we had read that they would eventually do so.  Akira is faithfully waking earlier and earlier to let them out to roam about as close to dawn as possible, and they linger about either in the house or nearby at dusk so that we can shut up shop for the night.

The girls spend their days scratching, pecking, dust bathing, pooping and sunbathing about the yard.  After a couple of weeks of keeping them in or near the coop, we let them roam free just before I started work at the University.  Pretty soon they found the outer limits of the property – and can often be found somewhere on the driveway scratching around as we come home from work in the early evening.

We feed them a high-protein ex-bats feed that has enabled them to feather up rather remarkably, and they all look luscious and feathery (apart from bossy Mrs Cluck, who is only now sprouting new neck feathers).  There was a brief hiatus of moulting in February, and they went off the lay a little.  But now they each lay an egg daily…so we are having to find alternative means of distributing the excess!

At first they were not so clever in the adverse weather, but it was pouring with rain yesterday morning and they had all taken cover under the hedge by the time we left for work.


It took a few weeks to establish the pecking order, but we think they have it sorted now.  Being able to free range means the lower order chooks don’t get pecked at much, and Mrs Cluck (who is definitely in charge) gets first choice of food, and calls the alarm when things look scarey, but otherwise seems to do little to assert her power these days.  One of Mrs Cluck’s recent funny habits is coming to the front door in the evening, triggering the sensor light in the dusk, and hanging out enjoying a little extended ‘daylight’.  Today she killed and ate an ENTIRE shrew…so she will either be in a bad way in the morning, or she is truly the most omnivorous one!


Feathery Frou Frou keeps a bit of a low profile.  She drifts about with Mrs Cluck and Floppy Comb most of the day and has feathered up rather beautifully.  her comb is also a lovely vibrant red.  Secretly, I think she may have been the egg-freeloader for a while, but she seems to just follow the crowd most of the time and is also a little more wary of us.


Floppy Comb is probably our favourite.  She is a gorgeous gingery-golden colour and has an inquisitive and very cheeky nature.  Floppy is the most likely to take risks and try new things.  She comes running whenever we appear outdoors and even jumps up on the living room windowsill to say ‘Hi’ if she spies us in the lounge.


Little Naynaynay Number Four is looking pretty and feathery (apart from a wee bald patch on her head – probably the permanent result of endless battery-induced pecking) and although she has a funny habit of facing the world with her blind eye – and thus never really knowing what is going on – she seems to get by in her own chickeny little way.  We were not sure she would make it, but she has been the most consistent layer, and seems to love having enough space in which to thrive.


We cleaned their house out a few weeks ago, and now that they spend all their daylight hours outdoors, the whole set up seems to be rather low maintenance and quite a happy addition to our little rural hideaway.


Our big challenge now is to find chicken minders for any holidays we plan to take this year.  An advert in the student job shop has yielded a few interested parties – so I am feeling hopeful that having chickens will still mean the best of all possible worlds.

The best part of this endeavour has been that Kazuo is devoted to the chickens.  He finds them hilarious, charming and a little funny.  He is so happy now that the long evenings means time with the chooks when we get home from town each day, we have to drag him away for dinner! They think his fingers look like worms and Floppy Comb makes a bee-line for the little person to have a peck at his fingers whenever he is out and about.


Making Ourselves at Home

The weekend has finally arrived.  It is time for a new look here at ‘Not Working’… As I mentioned earlier in the week, on Monday I enter the potentially crazy world of workinginsideandoutsidethehome.  I am shying away from saying I am going back to work, since it is abundantly clear to me…and most people who think about it for a few minutes…that there are all kinds of work done in our world – and not all are remunerated.  But from Monday, I shall be remunerated for some tasks I do, and I will be remunerating someone else to do the many happy tasks I have been doing with Kazuo for the past two years.

Akira and I will be renegotiating the roles we play in keeping the home running, though we have managed to develop a fairly smooth routine, so I am hopeful that there will not be too many teething problems there.  Kazuo will make perhaps the biggest adjustment – as he settles into a life of full time nursery school.

As I reflect back on what I have felt about ‘working’ over the past few years – and look forward to more time here in the blog (yayy for lunchbreaks!) I came to the conclusion that I was working hard to make us all feel at home, wherever we happened to be.  So even while I return to the paid workforce, this need to feel at home…and help my family and our critters feel at home…is perhaps the guiding narrative of our life together. (See more on this on the Where I Find Myself Page.)

This weekend I have bustled about trying to get our house in order to weather the changes ahead.  I finally managed to find some secondhand cubbies for the entrance hall, and managed to wrestle some control over the chaos that had developed in that little vestibule.  Now the coats hang in the corner, the boots have a space, and the wee guy can sit down for wellies/shoes/slippers and not stand up caked in mud (or latterly, chicken poop – ewwww!):

We’ve planted a tiny row of garlic in our little plot – and now to wait for the spring for the other plantings:

And we installed a compost bin and made a trip to the recycling centre – showing the little one the delights of separating out our waste:

Here we are then…making ourselves at home.  I hope you will too.