It seems these summer days are flashing by. While I'd love to say that I've had no time on the computer ( & use that as an excuse for not updating this poor, neglected blog), instead I've been sliding on every spare minute I've found. It's homeschool planning central here at Sunnyside & between that & training in a new milking cow, keeping up with an overflowing garden (well trying to anyway) & the fun things such as children's sleepovers & days spent with friends & not even one trip to the pool since swim club stopped for the holidays, well the days are slipping by. Eli lamented just yesterday how quickly the holidays are going. He feels as if they should have only just begun, yet we have less than two weeks left to capture all these summer delights. I've decided that the magic date for beginning the 'official education' of 2016 is February the first. So we are on countdown until then (& hopefully it goes very, very slowly)! I have almost finalised my curriculum choices for this coming year. It's late for me to be doing this with it generally decided before Christmas. Late last year, however, we were expecting some extra children to be joining our family permanently & so that took most of my focus. Sadly they didn't end up here after all & so we had to pack away those plans & cry a few tears over these precious ones we had begun to bond with. But that is the very nature of foster care & so I am now in the midst of planning for another year of home education. We have our Board of Studies Inspection in the middle of this year, so I am being very careful to make sure every learning outcome is planned for & every box is ticked. NSW has the strictest requirements for registration of all the states in Australia. While our AP (inspector) is very nice, you can't guarantee it will be the same person next time, so I am being diligent. I know, as we are applying for stage 5 this year, that everything will be looked through very thoroughly. By this stage in a child's education, they BOS take their inspections very, very seriously & expect us to as well. As I mentioned, our garden is going very well & we couldn't be more delighted with the abundance it is providing us with! It is the best garden we've ever had & we are enjoying the produce. So far the beets, zucchini, cucumbers & beans have been providing prolifically. I am pickling & freezing regularly. I just adore this season of canning - sticky floors & all! There is something so satisfying to see the rows of jars begin to fill up & the freezers begin to fill! How blessed we are indeed!! The children have been taking floats down to the dam each day to spend some time relaxing (or attempting to surf - as boys are bound to do)! I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've heard mixed reports about dam swimming, but one of our neighbours who goes to our church goes swimming in his daily & his is bigger than ours. I do admonish them not to dive deeply (I understand that the risk of cramping is higher because of the uneven water temperature the further down you go) & they must always have something to float on. They are good, strong swimmers & there comes a point where you can only worry so much. No one wants to be smothered by a worrying mother & they do have fun & have been safe so far. I do pray each time they are down there through... My 'flower semi-circle' is going really well. I am so pleased with the flowers that are growing & Ellie & I spent some time weeding it the other evening which means it now looks fantastic. The zinnia's I planted are getting bigger! I was even able to pick a bouquet of roses entirely from the garden! I missed my rose garden that we had up in Qld & so it is wonderful to have these growing again! Well I had better run. Today we have no set plans with anyone else, but the jobs are already piling up, even though I began at 6am! We are looking after some friend's farm & so I'd better head over there & do their morning chores now mine are completed. Have a lovely day friends! Blessings
If I had to describe 2015 in a single phrase it would be:
"Two Steps Forward, One Step Back".
It seems just as we seem to be getting ahead in a particular area of our life, a setback of some kind occurs. However, rather, we are still creeping forward & growing, progressing, ticking those boxes & achieving things...and when we consider how many things, it is with humble hearts that we realise how very blessed we have been this past year!
Some highlights of 2015 have been:
* Foster Care - without a doubt my favourite thing has been welcoming these precious children into our home. Some stayed for 3 months & we learned to love them. Then we learned to let go. Others stayed just a few days or even a single night. Two were promised as permanent & then, after we got all ready, our hearts were broken as we were told they weren't coming after all ( apparently the word definitely does not mean definitely in the foster world - I should know that).
* Farmsteading - This has continued to slowly progress. As the years go past, difficult tasks become familiar & with this their level of difficulty is eased. Growing children means they can take on substantial parts of the work on the farm, easing the burden on Dave & myself. We continue to produce almost all of our own meat ( which means I get sticker shock should I happen to look in the meat section of the supermarket). We are producing more of our fresh produce & we are feeding our animals using our own grain & hay. We are abundantly blessed!
*Homeschooling - we have finished our first year of high school homeschooling with our precious Zai! When I first presented our high school plans to our BOS inspector in 2014, the nerves were strong. I really didn't know if I'd be able to cross into this higher level of educating our children. After much encouragement from her, my friends & our children, I have found that it is easier to homeschool as the children get older. For they have the ability to work far more independently, thus eliminating a lot of the work that is required when homeschooling younger children. And these early years of high school are in fact a breeze!
* Renovations - we have one ceiling to go!!! If you've visited our place or been around this blog for a while, you know that renovating this old farmhouse has been ongoing in the background. This home is large & when we purchased it, it was sorely in need of much love! This year has been a big one for the house & we have just the school room & part of the bathroom left until the main section is done!!!!! Carpet will then be laid in the bedrooms & lounge & possibly the school room ( not sure exactly there) & then the laundry (our back) will begin. It desperately needs resheeting, tiles, benches & paint. I have been stalking laundries online looking for ideas to incorporate into our dream plan. Then we will sit down & realistically look at what we can afford & what our family actually needs ( this area doubles as a guest toilet/shower so we need to make sure it is guest friendly as we are blessed to host a lot of people in our home). After that is all done, well I guess we'll be bored....HA!..... in fact Dave has big plans to finally....finally ....get the Jag completed that's been sitting in our garage for far too long. Not to mention he's whispering about rendering the outside of the house.....
* Gardens -I'm sure you've read how excited I am about the gardens this year. The plants are maturing & we are in the beginning stages of harvesting! I am gearing up for canning season & all that goes along with that!
*Parenting - parenting growing children is without a doubt our biggest challenge & our most rewarding role. We are so abundantly blessed with our four children & don't deserve a one of them. Children are indeed a blessing from the Lord!
I can't believe that tomorrow marks the beginning of yet another year here on this earth. When I was a girl 2016 seemed so distant that it wasn't worth thinking about. I never considered what life would be like at the age of 36. That particular moment I was living in seemed far more important than some distant age that was not promised me. Yet, now I can't help but wonder what life will be like in another 25 years. While I am realistic enough to know that not one second more is promised me, I do wonder what life will be like then. Sure, I have my plans - cows, homesteading, gardening, grandchildren, pigs, chickens, farming, writing, foster care...the list continues on. But I have learned that my plans are often just plans. Sometimes they come into fruition & sometimes we must bow to God's plans, which are far better than ours.
I wish you all a very Happy & Blessed New Year!!
P.S. All the photographs in this post were from our latest batch of piglets - born mid November!
Welcome friends to my farmhouse journal! My name is Renata & I am the wife, Mama, homemaker, teacher & chief cow milker here at Sunnyside Farm! I enjoy keeping a record of our farmsteading life & pray that it encourages you as you read my words!