Tag Archives: superhero capes

Keeping it simple

A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.

Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.

The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)

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I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.

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I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.

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(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game!  Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)

The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)

My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.

With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year.  The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels.  I might have to make some more!!

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I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family.  This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt.  As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.

I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.

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Sale time

The last few days have been flat out busy while we have tried to prepare for my Mum’s departure back to New Zealand today.  She was with us for eight weeks in the end, and wrapped us all up in her love and helped us get through some of the roughest patches we have had in a while.  I am trying hard not to think about her not being here, but have noticed that there is no one offering to make me a cup of tea, reminding me to drink more water, bringing in the washing, planning the evening meal, or giving my chicks their own little piece of attention in the midst of a busy house.  Oh boy will we miss her.

But in the quiet space following her departure I have managed to load photos of some of my latest creations onto my Etsy shop, and have decided, in celebration of my successful market, and because it is Christmas, that it is time to have a sale.  So if you enter the code XMASSALE in the coupon section at the checkout at any time until 21 December, you will received a 20% discount on your order.  There are some smaller pieces that are just right for stuffing stockings too!  My little Christmas thank you to everyone for supporting me this year.

I have had a break from sewing today while I cared for my sick middle chick who has tonsillitis, and ran various errands.  One of the errands was to collect the finished memory quilt from the very talented Raylee at Sunflower Quilting.  This was the quilt that I was asked to make using a sarong and a light cotton island shirt that my housecleaner and her husband wore for their beach wedding in Fiji.  I am thrilled that I can present it to her before Christmas!  I hope that you can get a feel for the finished product from these photos – my designated quilt holders (the chicks) had left for the day before I remembered to take the photos!

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I will start sewing again tonight to finish some custom ordered superhero capes in time for Santa to pick them up for their recipients.  Then I will be cleaning up the disgrace that my sewing space has become and then……wait for it…….moving all my sewing things into the spare room and claiming it as my own!  Although the two oldest chicks were desperate to go back to having rooms of their own, they now have rooms of their own at their father’s house, so I decided that it was time to be selfish and have a room for myself.  I will keep a single bed in there so we have room for visitors, but the rest of the room will be my domain!  (And it just happens to have the best aspect, and therefore light, in the house!)  All that room for fabric storage!  Danger, danger, danger!  All that clutter removed from my bedroom!  Peace and tranquility shall return!  (hopefully.)

Part of the craziness of the last few days was my attempts to finish all the presents that I wanted to make for Mum to take with her to New Zealand to deliver to the rest of my family, who are gathering for Christmas there.  I can’t show you any photos yet (and of course forgot to photograph a couple of things) but am happy to say that I was able to tick everything off my list (once I simplified the list of course!)

So now all I need to do is remember where I have hidden the little bits and pieces I have gathered for the chicks, wait for the postie each day (she is currently doing two deliveries a day, bless her!) and stumble through the days until the 25th when the chicks leave to visit their father’s family in Victoria and I have a quiet house for a couple of weeks.

I hope that your Christmas preparation has not been two busy and that you are faring well amidst the seasonal chaos.

A full house

Last time I wrote my head was full. Now my house is full! I have been lucky enough to have my parents visit for a few days. The chicks had a day and a half off school in order to spend time with them, to between children, grandparents and Miss N the au pair, the house has been buzzing! My parents have been a god send – Dad has been up ladders cleaning out my gutters and muttering about bush fire season, and repairing loose steps. Mum has kept on top of the laundry, pulled weeds (a never-ending job in my garden), kept people fed, and given me time to think. The children have loved having them here. Yesterday they were able to join me in attending Floriade to watch the middle chick singing with the school choir. It was delightful! And then we got to see the flowers – so colourful and pretty!

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Today they took the three chicks to the National Arboretum, which I am ashamed to say I haven’t been to visit yet. The children were a little dubious about attending a plant museum, but they all excitedly reported having had a wonderful time!  Apart from thoroughly exploring the playground which is apparently shaped like wooden acorns, they also participated in workshops to make a kite (the oldest chick), and a terrarium (the middle chick) while the boy found a bird to follow and study with amazement for a long time. Happy grandparents and happy chicks! We will miss them when they leave tomorrow.

I have managed to finish some projects in between all of this. First the photos of the superhero capes that I wrote of in my last post. There were three ‘standard’ capes with initials for one family, and then the personalised capes for the family making the order. The twins (4 years old) ordered a candy, and a unicorn head.

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The 8 year old requested a rainbow, and the 11 year old a minecraft pickaxe. (I have to admit that I cheated and printed this onto fabric rather than patchworking it as I had first planned).

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Then the mother requested ‘just something’. And this is where my rather intricate bike applique came into being. This lovely woman has, at the age of (mumble, cough, mumble – something) learnt to ride a bike for the first time. The reason? To participate in a charity ride in Thailand to raise money for an orphanage. So I decided that rather than a simple initial on her cape she needed a bicycle – complete with basket – to symbolise her determination, bravery, generosity and courage.

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Then I decided that I really liked the bicycle pattern I had adapted from a picture I found on the web, so decided to make some cushion covers with the canvas that I had bought a while back, intending to use it to reinforce bags. (Of course!) And today I proudly listed three cushion covers for sale in my Etsy shop! I am planning to make some more, but with some words on them……perhaps…..

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I have also spent the week meeting with professionals, seeking more advice, learning more strategies, and planning/scheming/dreaming about ways to make my boy’s life better. While he is at home, despite all the people coming and going, the disrupted routine, etc, he has been beautifully behaved. This time is helping me to realise that if people interact with him in the right way, there are no problems with his behaviour. When there is no room for flexibility, when he is pushed to act like everyone else, instead of taking things in his own time, then the dramas start. Finding a way to accommodate this within the school is the biggest problem. I still don’t have a solution for that, but will continue to work on it.

I have also been providing support to the two girls, who have both been feeling the pinch of a brother getting lots of attention and a mother who is distracted by stress. Having recognised this we now have some plans for us to have one on one time together, doing things we like, and acknowledging the stress that their brother’s condition places on the whole family. So we are moving in the right direction.

And, finally, after all this time, we have a camping trip planned! I cannot believe we have gone for nearly 11 months without one! This weekend we will take the trailer down to the coast and set up in our favourite seaside park for three nights and introduce Miss N to the joys of kangaroos on the beach, possums that try to raid the rubbish bins at 3am, and whale spotting from the cliffs. I am starting to get excited in anticipation!

I hope that your week is going well, and that you are enjoying the Spring weather (or Fall for those of you on the other side of the globe!)

Juggling act

My house is unusually quiet tonight. I think it is just the stark contrast with the noisy, busy weekend that makes it seem so peaceful, but I am sitting here enjoying it nonetheless. The three chicks are in bed and hopefully some are asleep. The cupcakes for school lunchboxes are made, half the washing is folded, and, more importantly, I have been able to sew! Which is important as I have been fending off an anxiety attack for a few days.

By the end of last week I was feeling overwhelmed. The list of things that I thought I had to do seemed all consuming, and seemed to grow daily, and the future seemed full of obligations to other people that threatened to remove the last vestiges of time for me. (Luckily my paid work wasn’t adding to my sense of drowning in a sea of tasks – it was just all the other aspects of my life.) On Thursday night while on the phone to the MIML (the winning suggestion from my friend Fliss to describe ‘the man in my life’) I explained that I had to start on making fudge to take to work for morning tea the next day, after finishing making the curry for the annual lunch event at work, and still had to make a bag to donate to the raffle the next day. He asked if I had to make the fudge, and I heard myself saying ‘ of course I have to make it’…… and realised that I had hit my superwoman delusion again. You know – the one where you think that you can do everything, really well, without shortcuts, and keep all the balls in the air while also juggling knives, fire breathing dragons and unpinned live grenades? Hmmmmm…… so I stopped, put the fudge ingredients away, took a bag out of the stash of bags I have already made, and went and lay on my bed. Which was just what is required when you realise that you are vulnerable to more than kryptonite.

In order to avoid having to go and buy this shirt that I found on Pinterest (which I cannot find the credits for so can’t properly attribute), I am taking tomorrow off work to get a bit organised at home, do some sewing, do some planning and just breathe out a little bit. I am getting better at saying ‘no’ to extra things, but am still not great. This week might be time to get a bit of practice in……..
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The great thing about now being able to recognise when the walls of my mind are closing in is that I have strategies that I know can work. And thus, sewing has occurred! I had an order for two more superhero capes, but the request this time was for them to be suitable for smaller toddlers. So I adapted the pattern and went to work. And, voila! Two capes, so I now have three little bags ready for delivery this week!

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I also had time to sit down and applique a t-shirt. I bought some blank t-shirts a while ago, with the intention of appliquing them…… and they have sat in a box ever since. Actually getting one out and making a start on it removes that from my list of things that must be done! The t-shirts are made from bamboo fibre so are just lovely to work with and will be lovely to wear – delightfully soft to the touch!

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I was also able to give the change mat that I shared in the last post, to my staff member who is going on maternity leave.  She was impressed with it, and I have a couple of orders for more already!  Which may have necessitated a small bit of shopping to buy more laminated cotton………oops!

Another great achievement of the week was heading out to do some market research – literally of markets! Here in Canberra we have markets that are held every Sunday morning called the Bus Depot Markets – held in an old warehouse that was…..a bus depot. When I lived in Canberra about 13 years ago I used to go there regularly, but for the last few years, with three children (one of whom is very lively), and less disposable income, I have stayed away from them in order to avoid temptation. This morning, however, we went for a visit, under the guise of a reconnaissance mission. Part of the information gathering I tasked the children with was to identify which stalls caught their attention, and to think about why. (They loved the idea of this being an undercover mission!) I was also interested in looking at what people used to display their goods on. We went in with strict instructions from me that they were not to ask me to buy anything as we were only there to look……and within 5 minutes I had (without them asking) bought some beautiful soft homemade marshmallows, and gluten free cupcakes! Ah yes – sugar gets me every time! We did have a great look around though. At one stall we had a lovely chat to the stall holders who generously explained that their shelves were in fact folding shelves and very lightweight, where they had bought their trolley from, etc. I love the way that craft people are so willing to share their knowledge! Now I am researching folding shelves……as you do!

As I head into the week, with plans to lighten my load, focus on things that make me happy, and, of course to sew, I hope that your week goes well and that you have achievements to celebrate along the way.