Monthly Archives: February 2013

Piecing it together

Half way through the week already?  I need time to slow down a bit!  I am fully recovered from the virus I had on the weekend – it seemed to be a 24 hour thing, thank goodness, but it did make a dent in my plans!

To make up the lost time I baked for the children’s morning tea for the week at 6am on Monday, managed to get the grocery shopping done with two children in tow that afternoon after work, while the eldest chick had a playdate (what did we call these when we were young – I am sure they weren’t ‘playdates’ then!), and then picked her up and shopped for the few bits we needed before she left on camp.  Phew!  So the chores of Sunday were recovered, but the crafting time was lost.

I have managed to make a library bag that my sister-in-law requested for my niece, and was quite delighted to use a scrap of fabric from the boy’s cot quilt (made by his Nana) and that I am incorporating into his ‘big’ quilt, into the ladybugs’ heads and bottoms – the family connection for his cousin will probably be lost on a 5 year old, but it gave me a nice sense of symmetry.  I also found this lovely piece of fairytale fabric in the stash that my mother sent me recently, which I used for the monogram – I think it adds a magical touch to the bag!

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ImageThe eldest chick has gone on her school camp for two nights.  She has been so excited.  She has memorised the packing list and, it turns out, has been grilling all the teachers while they have been on playground duty, to get all the details she possibly can about the venue, the activities, the food, and the rules.  She decided not to take her new birthday Dr Who bag as it is ‘too special’ and I must say I was relieved with her decision when we woke this morning to rain and the associated mud.  I did make her a toothbrush roll (that I forgot to photograph for posterity) from a face washer and a scrap of the fabric from her pyjamas and pillow case, so she will be the most coordinated child at night!

Her persistent gathering of information, coupled with some recent incidents with the other two children, and my own history, have had me thinking about anxiety and the different forms that it takes.  My artist-in-residence middle chick has high levels of anxiety that manifest themselves in different ways.  Working with a counsellor when some specific manifestations were affecting her quality of life saw that situation improve and her overall anxiety improved dramatically after her diagnosis of coeliac disease.  (And on this, and the association of depression with coeliac I commend the post by Shauna Ahern on her blog Gluten Free Girl to you – it is raw but so, so, important to read.)  However I always knew that I had to manage her emotional needs slightly differently to the other two, and was very clear that this was something that had been evident since birth.

The boy was and is a sunny and very energetic child most of the time.  He is confident in most social situations – sometimes too confident, but when he is angry and frustrated or feels vulnerable we can have some significant behavioural problems.  I have always thought of these issues as related to anger or frustration.  Recently I was told that the diagnosis is actually anxiety.  Huh.  That made me stop and think.

Today, after school, I had the middle chick curled up in a ball, terrified and shaking and in complete meltdown because she had done something wrong at school, and by her putting her own black lens over the incident had magnified the consequences and the incident completely out of proportion.  An emotional phone call from her mother to the teacher shed light on where the message had been misinterpreted and she has calmed down and is happy to accept the consequences (which are mild compared to what she had interpreted them to be) and has written a note of apology to the teacher un-prompted.

Where is this all leading you ask?  Well, it got me to thinking that perhaps my eldest chick, who I rely on to be sunny, transparent and reasonable, is also experiencing her own anxiety, but that she manages it by collecting as much information as possible, so that there are no surprises, and she can cope with new situations.  And then it occurred to me that she is well and truly her mother’s daughter.  Because that is exactly what I do.   I know understand that I ‘suffer’ from anxiety sometimes, and that I manage it the rest of the time, blithely unaware that it is still affecting many of my decisions and actions.

The thought processes then lead me to wonder about the old ‘nature vs nurture’ argument and wonder how much of my eldest chick’s methods of coping are genetic and how much are environmental (i.e. ‘caught’ from her mother), and, more importantly, what skills can I give her so that she doesn’t have to wait until she is in her 40’s to recognise what she is doing and to learn to manage her own levels of anxiety so that they don’t affect her quality of life.

Food for thought for this little bird, trying to manage a nest of little chicks and keep them safe and on the right path for a healthy and happy life.   I don’t have any answers but in identifying what is going on in my nest I am hopeful that I can support them to be strong and confident when they need to be. (A bit heavier than my usual posts, but hey – that is what blogs are for – to keep you on your toes!!  Or something like that!!)

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The weekend report

Small bits of crafting in between the weekend plans saw a library bag for a friend’s daughter who has just started school, and a handbag for another friend who wanted one for a friend’s birthday.

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Lined in green gingham

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Lined in white and red dots – the brief was red after all!

I enjoyed  both projects and had pangs of wanting to have more time to sew……partly because I was also struck down with a virus that saw me spending several hours sleeping and then resting earlier today, which meant there was a bit of Pinterest surfing going on.  So many ideas to be gained from just looking at one site, so little time!

I can report that the trip to the Royal Canberra Show was a success.  Despite the threat of rain, it didn’t.  The children were remarkable in their good behaviour, and managed their budgets very well.  No one asked to go on the rides, and the animals were the agreed highlight.  They all had one sweet treat each and didn’t ask for anything else – and were respectful to each other and to strangers.  I was so proud of them!  We spent quite a bit of time in the “Harvest Hall” looking at the cooking competition entries, the fruit and vegetable sculpture entries, and the cake decorating entries.  A work colleague had entered the cake decorating and won for her cupcakes (the most amazing baskets of fruit and vegetables and eggs etc) and had second place for her cake (a “Hootabelle” cake).  The children were thrilled to see something made by someone they know (or who I know and therefore has some context for them).  They have all started planning their entries for next year!

We also spent time in the craft exhibition hall (of course) and enjoyed looking at the competition entries there too.  The artist in residence started planning her sewing entries for next year after seeing the children’s section.  We also had a lovely experience when looking at the model airplanes.  There were two retired men at a table, with model planes set out in front of them.  The boy asked if he could buy one and I was explaining that they were for looking at when one of the men said “You can’t buy one, but you can have one for free”.  It turns out that they were part of a deceased estate of a very keen model builder and his wife had asked that they be given to children…..so these men sat there for three days giving them to each child who expressed an interest in the models.  So touching in these days of consumerism.

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Today’s sudden illness was a great reminder of the wonderful support my friends give me.  We were meant to be going to mass for the artist in residence to have her commitment mass for her first communion.  Half an hour before it started I was dressed and ready to go, but knew that I couldn’t do it.  I had a list of friends that I knew I could call to help, and the third call saw success.  She felt very special having a one on one trip to church with a friend of ours, and I got to sleep.  I have reflected all day how lucky I am that I have friends that I can call when things like this happen – life as a single parent would be so hard without that backup.

Unfortunately as I am only just beginning to perk up this evening I had to make the call earlier in the day about whether I could go to the concert tonight.  The fact that I am typing this and not grooving in the aisles to the dulcet tones of Neil and Paul will tell you the decision I made.  Luckily I was taking a friend as a birthday present – and his wife was able to step in and take him instead!  (She is not a fan so she really is taking one for the team!)  So instead I will get an early night after preparing the house for the week, and hope that I wake up tomorrow full of beans and ready to go again.

I hope that your weekend was fruitful in the ways that you needed it to be!

The Friday flop

Ah, the weekend.  There is something quite special about a Friday night.  All the pressure of having to be on top of housework, homework, school lunches, laundry, etc, for the next day is removed and all the rules are relaxed.  In my house the kids refer to Friday night as “Pizza Night”.  I make them homemade pizza – one gluten-free with ham and cheese, one gluten-free with ham, olives and cheese and one gluten with ham olives and cheese.  (Yes – adventurous gourmands my children are not).  They pick a movie and are allowed to eat in front of the TV, with their pizza, while I sip a glass of wine, check messages on-line, talk to friends on the phone, and let them run a bit loose.  We all just let go a bit, and breathe out a bit and generally flop.  I love it!

Of course every now and then I think of the Friday nights of a decade ago, or two decades ago, where the image of this sort of Friday night would have been depressing, and think that I am glad that I did my partying when I was younger, because now I don’t think that this is depressing at all.

The look back at the week takes place as part of the Friday night ritual.  This Friday marks the end of my second week back at work, and my first week of my new routine of starting early, and leaving early to pick up the kids.  By Wednesday I was feeling exhausted and that this approach wasn’t working, as my son was having some of his old issues again, and I was back at the school having meetings again.  But fast forward just two days and we seem to all be settling into the new routine much better, and I am able to have perspective on giving us all time to adjust before I panic and come up with a new strategy!  I am hoping that as we settle, I will be able to find a bit of a routine for my own time – that small window after everyone is in bed – so that I can blog regularly, sew regularly and have time for keeping in contact with my family and friends without feeling like I am dropping the ball somewhere.

I suspect that part of the reason that I feel so good tonight is that I have had wonderful news from my mother that some test results we have been waiting on for over a week have returned and that we don’t have bad news from them.  Many prayers have been answered and we are so grateful.  All of this has meant that her visit to us has been postponed, but we are making our way through this transition to school and work on our own quite well, so I have told her to not rush over here, and to take some time at home until we see how things are going.  A huge weight has lifted off my shoulders (although probably not as big as the one she was carrying quietly!)

So all of this means that I had a slow sewing week to start with, but that my momentum has picked up as the week has gone on.  I photographed the pillowcases and listed them on Etsy, then the next day posted them on Facebook, and they sold straight away – to the same lovely friend who bought the first set.  It is such lovely encouragement to have that kind of feedback, it spurred me on to do a bit more.  I de-constructed and then re-constructed a bag I was making for a woman I work with.  It just wasn’t sitting right and I wasn’t happy with it, even though I had ‘finished’ it and photographed it two weeks ago.  But with a clear mind I was able to see where I needed to change it, so I did, then took it to her yesterday.  I am much happier with the end product now and she is happy with the bag, so I feel good about that too.

I then received three orders in the space of half an hour or so, through my Facebook page – two library bags and a hand bag.  I feel so privileged to be able to make things for people who I know, and I have had the fun of suggesting colours, designs and fabrics through the internet – learning all the time!  Two women I work with have requested bags with specific Spoonflower fabrics, so that order went in last night.  A good friend also reminded me that she wanted three of my iPod pillowcases…..and all of a sudden I need to prioritise projects!  I am so excited at the chance to keep making great things.  Although our weekend looks a bit busy I can see packets of time for sewing, so let’s hope that the outcome is better than last weekend.  I did start one library bag last night, but as I picked it up tonight I realised that my decision to stop sewing last night due to the hour was a good one – I had sewed the front and back panels together with the front panel on upside down!  So the unpicking will occur before anything else happens.  Luckily the applique went on the right way.

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My other piece of creativity last night was another batch of salted caramel fudge……. I wanted to make something to take to a morning tea with my team today….. and any excuse will do!  The kids were thrilled that I had slipped a little piece in their lunches today alongside the healthy options, and everyone at work enjoyed it.  Now to remember to make the bit that has not yet been cut last more than a day….

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This weekend is the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show – which the children had planned to enter the cooking competition.  Unfortunately their busy mother forgot the put the entry in on time…..  but we have decided that attending and scoping out the competition for next year is a good excuse to attend this year anyway.  I have made it clear that we are not going on rides and they were all very focussed on seeing the animals and exhibitions, until tonight when they discovered the list of show bags available……. and have spent the evening examining the very long list to identify what they want to buy.  I haven’t yet determined how much money I am going to give them to use to budget for their visit, but it will be interesting to see how it all goes.

Then on Sunday I have a concert to attend – Neil Finn and Paul Kelly – two of my favourite Australian and New Zealand musicians.  I am very excited about it.  It starts the warm up to get me excited about my Easter trip to Byron Bay for Bluesfest.  Expect to be bored with the details of that over the next few weeks…..because the headliners are big – Paul Simon, Robert Plant (you know – the Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin), Ben Harper, Chris Isaac, the Steve Miller Band (even just saying the name makes me think of space cowboys), Counting Crows, Santana…….  oh look – I have already started getting excited!  I just have to get my head around the logistics of where the children will be, what camping gear I will be packing, doing the drive on my own, etc…..

The Friday flop is kicking in – the house is a bit messy, no sewing has been done, the kids are asleep and I am about to head to bed to read for a while.  I hope that your week has been good and that you have great weekend plans to be excited about.

Small bits of creativity

The weekend was full of birthday parties.  Other people’s parties and our barbeque to celebrate the double-digit birthday.  That meant that it was also full of shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving, and organising.  Not a lot of time for crafting.  Well – not by me anyway!

After a week in which I did very little sewing I was keen to get back into it on the weekend.  When I realised that this was unlikely to happen I looked at all I had made without sewing and wasn’t too disappointed.  Marinated chicken skewers, a Pavlova (the gluten-free dessert of choice!), salted caramel fudge (our all time favourite – made in the Thermomix using this recipe – mmmm mmmmm…..) and I experimented with making a satay sauce that used pureed sunflower seeds instead of peanuts, to accommodate one of the guests who has a nut allergy.  It worked surprisingly well for a recipe that I made up based on what was in the cupboard.  Although the child in question of course wasn’t interested in the sauce the adults all enjoyed it!  It was a great night with a lovely group of friends – there was a bunch of boys in the yard with light sabers, a bunch of girls hanging out on the trampoline, and a bunch of adults on the deck enjoying the sunset, the cheese platter and the wine.  A delightful way to celebrate 10 years as a parent!

Although I didn’t manage my own sewing, the girls did some sewing and are justifiably proud of their efforts.  It is their school swimming carnival tomorrow, and they were both keen to make mascots for their house, which wears green in support of the house members.  So these are the results – based on templates that we drew ourselves.

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The middle chick wanted a green owl, so whipped this one up.  (I can also confirm that removing fingerprints from the camera lens does make a difference to your photos!)

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Made of an upcycled cushion cover, with scraps from my collection, the green monster is quite cute.  I was particularly taken with the tail that the eldest chick designed – and her chosen pose for the photo!

I also managed to finish the library bag and get it in the mail.  I am happy with the way it turned out and hope that the little person it is intended for enjoys it, and the books it will carry, for many years to come.  It is such a privilege to be asked to make special gifts for little people.

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Oh look – the fingerprint was obviously there last week too….

So the weekend finished with the house in order, the week planned out and me ready to start my week of early starts with the babysitter lined up to be at the house by 7am to prepare the kids for school and get them there.    Hmmmmm……. the best laid plans.  All was going well this morning – I woke up to find 2 children snuggled in with me, and managed to get up, get dressed, tend to the chickens, have my breakfast and prepare my lunch without them waking.  When the babysitter arrived, however, all hell broke loose!  The dog was going berserk with excitement at seeing the babysitter (who is also our house and dog sitter) which obviously woke the boy.  He had snuggled over next to his sister after I got up, which had pushed her to the edge of the bed.  So when he started to stir and stretch he pushed her out of bed, and she hit her head on the bedside table, so woke with a fright, in pain and screaming.  So between the screaming, the dog, and the other two children waking and attacking the babysitter with hugs and non-stop stream of consciousness stories it was complete chaos!  Looney Tunes could learn a thing or two from our house.

The good news is that the middle chick got the all clear from the doctor and had a lovely day quietly drawing and colouring and playing on her iPod in my office.  The other two got off to school with no drama and we had a calm afternoon after school.

After all of that I decided that I needed to at least start sewing something tonight – my creativity bug was itching away, floating ideas around in my head.  So I went with pillowcases – and managed to make two!  I can of course tell anyone who asks what I will do differently/better next time, but I am trying to learn to just enjoy them as they are, so will iron them and photograph them properly and put them up in my shop soon.

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I am hopeful of a week of sewing after so little over the last couple of weeks, so stand by for a burst of colourful creativity, or alternatively a stream of colourful language if my plans have to change again!

Wishing you all a colourful creative week.

A decade of love

My eldest chick turned 10 today.  I tormented her by saying that it wasn’t her birthday until the time she was actually born – 5.15pm – but we actually spent the day celebrating in a number of ways.  She climbed into my bed early this morning – most unusual for her – and we had quiet cuddles.  Once her brother and sister were alert we opened presents.  She loves her homemade presents as well as her other presents!  We then sat down with the photo album and went through the photos of when she was born and the first 6 months of her life (after which we moved to a digital camera and there are no more albums!!).  The three of them loved seeing her and all the familiar faces (although younger!!), while I sat there quietly looking at my beautiful big girl, and trying to work out where the 10 years has gone.  That first day when she was bruised and battered from her delivery by forceps, and I was so exhausted from a 36 hour delivery seems like yesterday, and yet we have seen and done so much since then, and here she is in year 5, with so much maturity, wisdom and silly giggles.  So today while the rest of the world celebrated love in all its commercial and non-commercial forms, we celebrated a decade of love because she has only brought love into my life since day one.

Of course now I can share the photos of the presents I made her!  She is a big fan of Doctor Who.  I am amused because back when I was at boarding school and we only had two channels of TV, Doctor Who was one of the only shows that we got to watch – and that was in the early 1980s!  The fact that it is all trendy and shiny now is great as a whole new generation gets to discover the Doctor.  I also thought that turning 10 is that first step towards independence and being her own person, so I made her an overnight bag.  She can use it on sleepovers, on school camp, for visits to grandparents, etc.  I ordered the fabric from Spoonflower.

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I used the tiny tossed Tardis fabric for the lining and gave her a zipped pocket and two slip pockets on the inside.  I used a pattern from Gingercakes for the bag and it was a great pattern to follow.  It comes with a cottage industry license, so I may make some for my shop down the track.

Then I used some of the leftovers to make the iPod touch cover that she wanted.

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She promptly put her ipod straight into it.

Her brother and sister gave her a travel bug ‘trackable’ for use in geocaching.  It is a tag that can be registered, and then when she releases it into a cache she can track where it goes.  The two stones represent her siblings, and she can decide what the target for the cache is.  Her thinking so far is that she will see if it can go to 10 countries and then end up in a cache around the corner from her grandparents house in a country town in New Zealand.  It will be an adventure to follow it – and to see what else it picks up along the way!

 

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She also received phone calls, text messages, emails etc, so was feeling very loved.  Her father delivered presents from himself, his partner and his parents and included a Lego set, so she spent the afternoon building the lego, very carefully, much to the displeasure of her little brother who wanted to be playing with it instantly!!

The birthday girl requested her annual heart-shaped cake, chocolate with dark pink icing, so I obliged.  I did cheat a bit and just add cocoa to a gluten-free packet mix, but it turned out well, so I don’t feel too guilty!  I made her wait until about 5pm before we sang, blew out candles etc.  She was quite tickled by waiting until “I am actually 10 years old”.

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So a decade of loving my funny, smart, loving big girl has been celebrated with much colour and joy.  It overwhelms me to think of the next 10 years and where she will be in her life by then, but I know that it will be a journey that will be made with love and support, so I am trying to just breathe out!

I hope that you have had a day, week and month filled with love.

Ladybugs and quiet time

This week I am playing with appliques of ladybugs.  I have put a couple on a library bag for a special little girl in Melbourne, and one on a special bag for my middle chick.  As part of a strategy to help her through a rough time she has a bag with special things that she chose in an afternoon of op-shopping on Monday.  When she needs time to collect herself, she can take her bag of special things and have time alone to play with them.  So the bag needed to be a bit special too.

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There are days when I would quite like a bag of special things and a bit of quiet time myself.  Today is definitely one of them.  Children who are tired and upset, with a mother who has to explain to them that I am human and make mistakes, means that it has been a long evening.

The return to work brings new challenges – I am only working part-time hours this week to continue to support the children in their transition to school, etc (gee an ‘etc’ can cover a lot of things) – and I had forgotten how hard it is to work part-time.  I feel like I am hardly there, and just getting the hang of things when I have to zoom off again.  I have a longer day in the office tomorrow, and actually move into my new office, so that might help the settling in process.  I suspect that this is just the next lesson in how to find balance in other areas of life.

The return to work means that there is a small slowing down in the creative process…..although being at work has allowed me to sit with a couple of people and nut out what they want in their custom orders, so it has upsides too.  But for tonight the machine cover stays on, children who are a bit overwrought have had extra cuddles, and I am going to bed early.

More ladybugs might be in order – a special bag for me for when I need quiet time (I am thinking it can hold a crochet hook and some yarn…..and perhaps chocolate.)

A delightful Sunday morning

Having now gifted the special birthday girl with her present I can show you the pictures of the bag and notebook cover that I made her this week.  Thinking I might need one for myself………….

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In return the birthday girl shared her birthday treasure trove of a rainbos of macarons, and gave me two to bring home to get me through my first day of work tomorrow.  They might not make it to tomorrow!

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All this and it is only half way through the day.  Hope that your Sunday is going well!