Of picnics and travel


Our family has really settled into country life very nicely.  We love every minute of it and although I thought I might miss the city that really has not been the case at all. Life in the Country Country life … Continue reading 

Starting afresh

Moving is never easy!

Sure there is the excitement of the change of location, especially for our family as we were giving up on city life and moving to the country. Sally and I were determined to make a clean break and get a fresh start. The country would be a perfect place to bring up our family. As practicing pagans, we felt the country was the place for us. After all, Pagan means “Country Dweller.”

cute bunk bedsThe easiest way to achieve the fresh start we both craved was to sell everything! When I say everything, I mean absolutely everything. Furniture, appliances, our kids bunk beds and toddler bed, our double bed and even my beloved bedside table (which I had hand made in school. I don’t think Sally minded watching it go). We placed everything on eBay and it sold within a week. The only things we had left were the car and our clothes.

Not having to move a whole household was a blessing actually, although it did not end up totally stress free. We found that it is easy for city folk to get very, very lost in the country!

Our new home

Our first few nights spent in our new house were a brilliant family bonding time. As we had nothing in the house at all, we decided to camp indoors. We purchased a few blankets and a sleeping bag and settled in. Camping in your home is all fun and games until the sore backs set in (only for the parents mind you). Sleeping on the floor was not a great idea but the bonding more than made up for it.

After our indoor camping, we knew beds were the first thing we needed to purchase for our new home. As space was limited, (let’s just say “cosy” is the best way to describe the house), we decided bunk beds were perfect for Hagan and Bowen, our boys. They both loved the idea of having bunk beds again, but are still bickering about who would get the top bunk. I guess some things never change.

bedLittle Haley, our daughter, is still too young for a bed so we decided on a cot that can be converted to a toddler bed when she is old enough. We are not sure how she is going to handle the change, so a cot is perfect as we can place it in our room for the first couple of months.

Of course Sally and I need something to sleep on. We decided that due to our space limitations we would downsize to a double bed. Perfect for country folk!

Sally insisted we get two small side tables like these to keep our books and odds and ends neat and tidy. (I admit, I love leaving books lying around, something Sally doesn’t share my enthusiasm for).

So after a hectic first week, we now have our sleeping arrangements sorted out. Now to move on to the rest of the house, but in true country style, we will take our time!

The Fun Begins – Decorating the Living Room

Well since we all now have a place to sleep (even Cyfaill the dog), I guess we should start on the living room.

Even though the pace of country life is slow, we need to make our new home liveable.

coffee tableThe living room is a place we all love as a family. When we lived in the city, the living room was a place where we had plenty of quality family time. I would setup various board games on the coffee table and play with the boys while Sally would sit on her favourite chair in a darkened corner reading her book by the light of a tripod floor lamp. Haley would be in her bassinet next to her mom, mostly sound asleep except for the times when the excited screams of one of the boys winning at Monopoly woke her up.

There aren’t many things from our time in the city that we want to recreate here in the country, but this is definitely one of them

Sally and I first discussed the lighting for the room. Now that we are in the country we love how dark it gets in the evenings. We both agree that although the living room should have one or two wall lights (to use if we need them), the main source of lighting should come from a few well placed floor lamps. They are perfect for providing lighting for specific areas of the room and they certainly provide a unique atmosphere. Sally will definitely need one in her new reading corner, which she has already picked out!

Of course we also need to find a nice comfortable lounge suite. The “comfortable” part is very important, especially for lazy Sunday afternoon naps, if the boys let us of course!

The family tradition of board games will continue so we will be getting a new coffee table. It will have to be high enough so Cyfaill cannot reach any snacks or food we put on it. He is eating like a horse these days. I think the country air does him the world of good!

Getting the kids involved

gum ballSally suggested that we should get the kids involved in helping to pick out items for the living room. This new house and country adventure is as much theirs as it is ours. They can have fairly strange requests though; a gumball machine in the living room is a must according to Bowen and Hagan. Did we every mention where their names come from? Well true to our Pagan beliefs the names are of Celtic origin. Bowen means reliable and Hagan means youthful.

Back to the gumball machine, well we had to say no to that, but did compromise by allowing them two small padded chairs that they liked. Haley is of course too young to demand anything, but Sally suggested a new bassinet as it is a perfect way to get her to sleep at night.

The living room should be finished in the next couple of days, the boys and I can’t wait. Time to crown the Monopoly Champion of the country!

Getting to Know the Locals – A Trip to the Dog Park

Hmmm, I see Norman beat me to the first proper blog entry from our new home. There I was thinking he struggled with this “technology” thing!

Well I was pretty excited to tell you about our moving experience, but as I was beaten to it (thanks Norman), I suppose I will tell you about the bed that we forgot to order… a pet bed for our beloved Cyfaill. If you are wondering about his strange name, Cyfaill means “Friend” in the Celtic language, so it links in nicely with our Pagan faith.

The local dog park

dog parkTo make it up to him, I took him down to the local dog park. I have always loved dog parks, they are great places to meet people and their pooches and let’s be honest, dog lovers are normally really friendly.

Cyfaill is somewhat of a looker and pretty soon everybody was coming over to admire our beautiful black Labrador. I really felt like a proud mum! Dog’s are really not only woman’s best friend, but they are a great way to meet people. In fact, my first dog, Ness, played a part in how Norman and I met. She bit him as he ran past us at the local field! There was a reason she bit him though, she was very old at the time and Norman scared her with his big, plodding feet!

Another thing I noticed while at the dog park is that country folk are friendlier than city folk. I think sometimes city life gets the better of people through no fault of their own. It’s one of the reasons we wanted a quieter, more peaceful country life.

Anyway, back to the friendly folk at the dog park! I chatted to a great lady called Gill. She was about my age and she had a beautiful Collie named Flower. I asked her how she got her name, but as the words came out of my mouth I felt really stupid! She just laughed at me as I blurted out “Collie Flower” right after I asked my silly question. It turns out Gill was also the local vet, a great contact to have made.

The right dog bed is essentialdog-beds_1

I told Gill about forgetting to buy a dog bed for Cyfaill. I am glad I met her, because she stressed to me the significance of making sure you get the correct bed for your dog. It is very important to know how your dog likes to sleep, so as to get the correct sized bed. If your dog likes to lay out all flat, Gu]ill suggested a scatter cushion might be a better option. She also mentioned that winter can be cold out this way, and that a heated pet bed would be essential, especially as Cyfaill got older.

I know Cyfaill loves to sleep curled up, so her suggestion was to get a large, padded, oval shaped bed with a removable cover for easy cleaning. We had something similar for him when we stayed in the city, although I think it was more luck than anything that we bought the correct type of bed for him. She also suggested spending a few extra dollars on a bed that can be plugged into power and heated, especially for winter.

I am sure Cyfaill will love it!

Getting the Rhythm Back in Our Lives

Around three months ago, while we still lived in Sydney, Norman and I were both off for the weekend, relaxing with the kids and listening to the record player when the call came in. We were desperately needed at work; all emergency responders were summoned due to a ten car pileup on the freeway.

Our kids were crying as the baby sitter arrived. They wanted us to stay, but we couldn’t. How do you explain to young children that other people need you more than them at that point in time? As we drove to the scene of the accident, we knew that this way of life could not go on for much longer. We had a decision to make; one we knew had been coming for a while.

A life in the emergency services can be very stressful. Every day and every emergency that you deal with is very different. We both needed a change; in fact we knew that a change would be good for our young family.

The music never dies

dancingNorman managed to smuggle something from Sydney that I didn’t know about – his old record collection which he hid under the mat in the back of the car. He also managed to order a funky vinyl record player online and now we have music to accompany our evenings.

Last Saturday we decided to have a late afternoon barbeque and I invited Gill and her husband around. After we had all eaten, Bowen wanted some music to be played. He loves dancing so much; I think we might have a little John Travolta on our hands. Hagan, on the other hand, much prefers to sit back on a comfy floor pillow and take it all in.

Norman quickly seized at the opportunity of inflicting his musical tastes on our guests and hauled out his old records and the record player. We spent most of the evening dancing, laughing, singing and having an amazing time. Before we knew it, the sun was rising and we had danced the night away! I suppose country life can make you lose track of time!

Moving to the country

We have loved our time in the country so far and it has had such an amazing effect on our kids. Both Bowen and Hagan were fairly reserved boys in the city. I think it had a lot to do with our shift work and the fact that our family was not a complete unit very often.

Since the country move, both our boys are definitely more outgoing and not as clingy as they were in the city. They are showing more and more signs of independence and that is only a good thing.

throwing a frisbee for our dogWe often find them outside playing cricket or throwing a frisbee for our dog. Many times we are drawn to the kitchen window by the laughter of the boys or the barking of the dog while they frolic. It is great to see them so happy!

We also spend so much more time together. In Sydney we did have family time, but only every second weekend. Here, every night is spent in quality family time either reading, playing board games or just relaxing together.

Family Fun – Decorating the Kitchen

Our little country home is really starting to look stunning. We are slowly but surely turning it into our little haven of happiness. We love it so much here!

preparing foods in the kitchenOur next room to decorate is our kitchen but we are not going to do a major makeover. We definitely don’t want to paint anything at this stage and the kitchen really does not need it. Sprucing up a few things will do the trick. We know we want new lights fittings (definitely pendant lights), bar stools and a new wall clock. We are teaching the boys to tell time at the moment and a nice large wall clock will help us. They are still young, but they are both very bright. To help us to encourage them, Norman has already decided that they can choose the wall clock.

You know, the kitchen is an important room to us as a family; we spend plenty of time there together. Norman and myself both love to cook and we encourage the kids to sit by the kitchen counter while we are busy preparing food. It’s a great time to bond and let’s be honest, who doesn’t bond over food right? Sometimes the kids get a little bored, but we try to involve them by letting them help out where it is safe to do so. My mum used to do this with my sister and I and that is the way we learnt our way around a kitchen.

Tick-tock it’s a wall clock

wall clock in the kitchenWe had a lot of fun helping the boys pick a wall clock. They both had some very different ideas about which kind of wall clock they wanted, but we helped to guide them in the right direction. We jumped online and found a range of different stores with a huge selection of modern wall clocks. We showed them a few with extremely large numbers that were easy to read and in the end they picked a perfect one to help them to learn to tell time.

We have come a long way in a short time since leaving Sydney. I can’t believe how we have changed our lives so dramatically, but at the end of the day, it’s already so much better for me, Norman and the kids! The country way of life can only continue to be good for us!

Lights, spatula, action!

We started our kitchen makeover by first focusing on the pendant lighting. We found a few beautiful examples, the only problem was that we could agree on the type of hanging lights we both liked. After a lot of back and forth, we managed to find a stunning model that we both though would work brilliantly for the kitchen, providing enough light for food preparation and cooking but also not too bright so we could keep the country kitchen atmosphere.

Bar stools are our preferred seating options for around the kitchen counter. They have to be safe enough for the boys to use, so they must be slightly lower than an ordinary bar stool. Haley is still too small to sit on one, but I am sure she will join in when she gets a bit older.

We are the officers of Avalon – two Pagans on the journey of life!

Well we’ve finally done it. Sally and I (Norman) have taken the leap and started our own blog. Having seen many of our friends join the blogging world over the past few years, we are certainly late starters in comparison. There are a number of reasons for why it has taken so long for us to embrace this new world.

Firstly, Sally and I are certainly not IT-orientated. Just getting this site up and running has been a HUGE learning curve. To be honest, I don’t even know if this post will go up properly! So not having any technology skills has been big barrier for us but that is one of the reasons we wanted to start a blog. We figure that at our age, we should be embracing technology more and having the challenge of a blog is a great way for us to extend our skills and a way to provide us with a meaningful project.

Another reason for why we haven’t started this blog earlier is that we have been reluctant to share the details of our life due to the nature of our careers. Both Sally and I used to work as officers in the emergency services. We can’t tell you exactly what area – the police, firefighters or paramedics services – because we’d still like to have some level of privacy. We originally thought the idea of a blog would never work for us because we thought for sure that we would be in breach of a code of conduct for having one. We recently found out that we are quite within our rights to have a blog but we still feel there is a need to maintain some anonymity.

In keeping with the same thinking, we also were concerned about airing our beliefs so publicly. Sally and I can be considered to be Pagans. We’re not crazy animal worshippers who make sacrifices or anything, we just have different beliefs about spirituality compared to others. Our beliefs are quite simple and all very well-meaning. We have very similar core values to any of the big religions, we just practice in different ways. Now that we have had some reassurance about safely airing these – we feel that we are in a good position to share some of what we believe. In fact, many people have asked us to write this blog just so they can better understand our way of life.

Finally, the biggest reason we haven’t started a blog is because we had always thought that we didn’t have anything interesting to write about. We are very ‘normal’ people. We work hard. We have a young family. We are good, honest, caring citizens. We also thought we were a bit boring. It wasn’t until we sat and chatted with friends about our lives that they commented on how interesting our thoughts and opinions were. They were a big reason for us getting started with this blog. This coincided with our recent move to Avalon, near Geelong in Victoria.

We chose to move to Avalon to pursue a new journey in life. We have moved our young family here to start fresh. After many years toiling away we have decided that we need to live a more simple, more charitable and more meaningful life.  We love helping people, which is why we got into the careers we did, but we feel that along the way we have lost some of the vitality we used to have. With a young family now, we want to create a more meaningful life and we want to document that here so that our family, friends and future friends can follow along as we embark on this amazing new journey.

Our first adventure in this new life will be the constructing of our new home. We recently purchased a great new family home which we are really excited about developing and transforming. Stay tuned for some serious updates on our progress!