Please excuse my slowness to produce a blog over the last few weeks, I keep meaning to write, but life, as it does, has got in the way. Anyway, I thought I’d just best get on with it; my tendency towards perfectionism means I sometimes would rather write nothing instead of giving you a window into our imperfect everyday lives, which is actually the point of this blog.

We’ve been keeping busy with more building work. The second half of the house is making good progress. The first fix bathrooms and electrics are complete and yesterday the plasterers began their work. The transformation in the hallway has been wonderful, I hadn’t realised how sick I had become of looking at dull, grey breeze blocks. The pictures below show the process, with the last one revealing the beautiful beam in the eaves which will have hidden uplighting to enhance it. Once the plasterers are done we’ll move onto second fix electric, bathroom fittings, painting, flooring and finally furnishing the rooms. We’re hoping to be done within 3 months (including drying time for the plaster).

It’s been ok living in a building site, because we now have a kitchen, lounge and 4 upstairs bedrooms. The only real challenge has been toilets. We have only one finished bathroom and then a downstairs toilet with no electricity in it. If you want to use that loo in the evening then you have to take a torch! It also has a rather open plan feel, as a wall has been knocked down and round the corner there is no wall, meaning you could be disturbed by little visitors 😉.

With the limitations of toilets, I have been reluctant to embark on my next challenge, toilet training Katie, but I finally built up the courage last Monday. I’d bought her a tiny toilet, as she would probably not make it past the builders to the other toilets, and I thought it might make her feel grown up.

Anyway, whatever I did worked and she’s been dry from day one. She’ll turn 3 at the end of this month and I suspect she has been ready for a little while, but I hadn’t been feeling brave enough to tackle the potential mess. What a relief it’s been, I feel like I’ve a dodged a major bullet, having had mixed success in how long it’s taken me to toilet train the other children. All of the children have been dry before 3, but it’s certainly never been as easy as it’s been with Katie. Clearly God knows my limits!

The season of Lent is upon us. Lent is often looked upon as a Catholic practice, but having been in Anglican churches for most of our lives, we have always practiced this season of fasting, as we prepare for Easter. We find it a really helpful time to reflect on Jesus’ time of fasting in the wilderness and we spend more time drawing closer to God and less time focusing on worldly pleasures or at least that’s the goal. Do you ever give things up things for Lent?

We always try and give up something for Lent and generally it’s sugar. The guidelines are, no sugary puddings, biscuits, sweets or chocolate in the house, but if you are given them at a party or church for example, you can eat them, as we don’t want to be rude or make the children feel resentful. We do take Sundays off, as God knows we are but flesh. The children generally get creative and bake lots of honey filled, or date based puddings, so the deprivation feels fairly minimal, but it does increase their creativity. Here’s one of Stephen’s honey and blueberry muffins.

I gave up almost all sugar and 7 years ago and so I don’t partake in the sugar fast, but I did feel led to give up something. I don’t use a mobile phone or computer, but I do use an IPad and find myself distracted during the day by news articles or messages, so I decided that I would give that up during the daytime. It’s been such a blessing. For the last 2 days my brain has been more focused (thus the reason I can write again) and I’ve been more present in my everyday activities. It’s so easy to turn technology from our servant into our master and giving it up, or setting boundaries is a great way to put it back in its right place. I’ve given it up several times over the years for Lent and I’ve always been blessed by the extra time it’s given me, to pray and simply be fully present in the moment. Why do I ever return to it? I guess it’s human nature, but I pray this time I will learn from my experience. Life here is so full on that I really have no extra time or mental energy to take on the worries of the world, through the media, whilst caring for my children. There’s a time and place for looking at all that and I’ve put it back where it belongs, in my evening time.

I’m putting in a picture of these seeds for accountability, as I will now have to plant them! Phil bought them a week ago and ever since then they have sat on my window ledge making me feel guiltiest as the days go on that I am missing my window for sowing. I’ll aim to post some pictures in another blog when the seedlings thriving. Nothing like a bit of pressure to make me move.

I have many ideas for other blog posts. I was thinking about a few ‘how did we do that?’ posts, about the early days with many little children. Posts on sleeping, weaning, toilet training and behaviour management were some of the ideas I had. I know many of you won’t have young children and so it may not be of interest, but I thought you could pass it on or you may just be curious about how life looks with 6 children 10 and under. I also thought it may well be of use to my children when they are new parents and I wanted to write it down before I forget what I did. Please let me know if there is anything you would like to see on the blog.

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