Making stuff!

I have been back at the machine making stuff this week.  And it feels good!  I am itching to get back to making bags – it has been too long – but for now I have been working on more baby accessories to meet demands in the Shop Handmade.

A couple of weeks ago I starting playing with sewing plastic to make waterproof bibs.  Many hours, and frustration later I realised that I needed a different approach.

Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers......

Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers……

And of course the answer was simple – use the laminated cotton that I already have!  Doh!

Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!

Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!

So a series of waterproof bibs, with soft bamboo lining so that they are still comfortable for a baby to wear, are now stocked in Shop Handmade.  And I have made a few with pockets on the bottom.

Waterproof bib|a little bird made me

I remember thinking that pockets on bibs were weird, until I had my own children and realised how handy they can be for little ones to scoop out the dropped biscuit, grape, spaghetti, etc that they have dropped!  (Good thing these are washable!)

I suspect that I didn’t share with you the other product I made for the Shop a few weeks ago – hot water bottle covers and heat packs. (Well, it is almost winter you know!)

01d39dc2367d17fc1aa424c89e72d66a2dfc19b63301120f43b86debf606b3cda25f7936f14f9510af4f01454d7539687514b5577aedeafe9f2cf44eee8857This week a customer asked for a set of hand-warmers as a gift for a traveller, so I had fun playing with a design for these. You know me – they couldn’t just be plain!

Handwarmers|a little bird made me

I have also been working on some more nappy change mats to restock in the Shop.  Loving all the bright colours!Piecing together nappy change mats|a little bird made me

I am also a little bit chuffed to be the featured designer on the Handmade Canberra website this week.

Now to get back to the machine!!  I hope that you are having a productive week.

Hasty decisions

The verdict is in. My decision made in haste was not a good decision. On Sunday afternoon, just hours after writing my post about our new dog we had an incident that shook us all, involved a trip to the emergency vet for our small dog (who is ok) and a realisation that a 40kg dog with a strong prey drive going into hunting mode is not good.

Not all hasty decisions are good decisions. And not all quick decisions are easy ones. The decision that he had to go was a quick decision, not an easy decision, but the right decision.

It is hard to focus on the good, so I am very glad I wrote my post on Sunday so I can remember all the things I was enjoying before the events of Sunday afternoon. More lessons to learn.

I have been making other hard decisions this week, and assessing and reassessing my motives. I think that one of the worst things about getting older is that you know so many more implications for your actions, so there is so much to think about and consider. I second guess myself and go round in circles! I keep thinking that I wish a wise adult would come along and tell me what the right thing to do is. Then I remember that I am an adult, and that no one can give me the answers I need except me. Drats.

I am trying to be kind to myself and hope you are able to do the same.

Rural update #258

I am guilty of making many hasty fast well-considered-rapid decisions. Some turn out spectacularly well. (Like buying this property). Others take a bit more time before their success or otherwise can be determined. Last week I made a decision that we needed a second dog (for reasons that seemed sensible upon examination). And within 48 hours was driving 2 hours to collect a rescue dog who was described as ‘medium’ in size and had all the attributes I was looking for. The idea was that he would ‘belong’ to my son, supported by me.

The ‘medium’ dog turned out to be more ‘extra-large’ sized but just delightful so we brought him home.

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All the way home I explained to the children, and my parents (via phone) how we would introduce our dog Dottie to the newcomer. Hmmmm….. A slight waste of good air. An excited child let Dottie out of the house just as I was getting Gunner (that is his name) from the car. She went into psycho-attack-terrier mode and flew at him and much screaming, hysteria and a bit of blood later two traumatised dogs were separated.

Much advice and strict rules being laid down by me means that one week on we are still keeping them separate- walking him multiple times a day while she is locked out of the way, etc. His size means that my son can’t walk him on his own, and isn’t really interested in training him. It is an extra job for me on top of all my other obligations. He can’t be let loose to roam because he is still learning not to chase kangaroos,the neighbours sheep, horses, cows. He can’t be left in the dog run because he just wants to be with us, so he jumps, all 4 legs off the ground, as high as the 1.8m high fence. And yet, despite all this, one week on, after many discussions between my parents and myself, we are still persisting in attempting to socialise the two dogs and to train Gunner (who is so food motivated that it is easy!)

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At first I thought it was my fear of failure that kept me from chucking it in and returning him, but now I realise that it is bigger than that. Even if we do have to re home him eventually he deserves a chance to be trained, loved, and cuddled. I enjoy my multiple long walks around the property with him each day. It is time to explore my land in more detail, to have time to clear my head, to think and plan. I had forgotten the joy of owning big dogs. (I used to have two.)They have to be walked. You can’t skip a walk because you don’t feel like it, or it is raining, or it is cold. And they can’t just be walked around the block. They have to be walked a long way. It is good for me to be out there going up and down hills again! Whether the two dogs ever become best friends or not, I am going to persist a little longer.

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In deciding to devote more time to him I had to assess my time and commitments. After a brilliant few weeks at school my boy has struggled this week, and been home early each day. I haven’t been seeing much, or spending time online sorting out ‘things’ I need to stay on top of. At first I was stressing about this. Then I remembered. Giving my children time is what life is all about. Breathing out and stepping through each day with that as my focus is okay.

Finally, what would a rural update be without photos of the chickens?!

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Un-jumbling my thoughts

This morning my car and camper trailer are being inspected so that I can transfer their registration to the State we moved to earlier this year. This means I am sitting in a very cold waiting room in a mechanics yard for an hour. After the chaos of getting all three children out the door this morning I am enjoying the peace (although not the cold so much!)

Peace means time to sit and reflect, and organise my thoughts. (If only I had bought a thermos of tea life would be perfect!). My thoughts are a bit jumbled and if course I need to work out why! I rarely air my dirty laundry on this blog, but today those stinky jeans and smelly tops might get a bit of airing as I share some of my thoughts on parenting and divorce.

I have had some challenging interactions with my ex-husband and his current girlfriend over the last couple of days and I think that is the cause of the ‘jumbling’. I have realised that I resent having to form a new relationship with her because he has started a new relationship. I didn’t choose to have her in my life, but because of his choices, I have to start the whole dance of explaining the background of why my children behave the way they do, interact (or don’t) with their father the way they do, are triggered by certain behaviours (no matter how illogical they are), and why even though he may be an awesome father in her eyes, there are aspects of our children’s care where we have very different views. It is one of those side effects of divorce that you don’t factor in (if you factor anything in.)  Whether she is a lovely woman or not, having to tiptoe through the awkwardness of not criticising this man she is ‘very serious about’ and not screaming  ‘open your eyes woman – do you honestly think it was all my fault, and all the fault of his next partner’ down the phone takes it out of you!

And there is the ongoing conversation with him about why I am being so selfish as to not be working full time in a public service job. If only I would do that ‘everyone’s lives would be easier’. The repetition of the same conversation, with no new understanding or recogition on his part about my role in supporting our son, and his bizarre accusations that he would be happy to pay child support to my father, but not to me as he knows that I ‘spend it all on fabric’ (yes – truly – he said that) are exhausting.  While the advice to ‘just not engage with him’ is sage, there are occasions (like last night) where talking to him about what is happening for our kids is in the children’s best interests.  Until he asks when I am returning to work because he is sick of giving me money.  (Of course he isn’t giving me money – he is contributing to the support of our children who live with me the majority of the time.)

This all makes me look back and wonder how I ended up here. How did I fall in love and marry someone who has such different views on life from me?  How did I hide the truth from myself for so long?  Why do my children have to suffer because of decisions that are beyond their control?   And there you have it – a jumbled mind.  Sigh.  Life is complex.  And the grief for the loss of what could have been is deep.

As always I need to balance all of this out with the good things in life. On Mother’s Day my boy, who had a bit of a rough morning before he came home to me, curled up on my knee and fell asleep for over an hour.  Honestly, it was the best gift!  None of my kids have done this for more years than I can remember.  To just sit and hold my usually wriggly, jiggly son, breathe in his soft boy scent, feel his warm skin and his gentle heart beat, was a gift that I cannot measure.  My girls made me cups of tea, gave me big hugs and spent time talking to me. I am truly a lucky parent.  The simple things in life bring so much joy.enjoy the simplethingsinlife|a little bird made me

Now my car and trailer have the all clear, I am heading home for a warm cup of tea and to sit in front of the fire to defrost while I catch up on bookwork, and, although I have no answers to my rhetorical questions, my mind is less jumbled.  Thanks for listening to my brain dump.  I hope that your week is not full of jumbled thoughts, and that you have moments for quiet reflection on the good things in life.

 

The benefits of social media

Instameet |a little bird made meLate last week I received an invitation to attend an Instameet.  ‘A what?’ I hear you say.  An Instameet is when users of Instagram gather to take photos of a location, or a scene and then share them on social media.  Sometimes it is for fun, sometimes it is to promote an issue, place or occasion.   This particular Instameet was a sneak peek at the preparations for the opening night of Le Noir, the Dark Side of Cirque. It opened at the Canberra Theatre Centre last night, so our invite was for the night before, where we saw the cirque performers doing their tech run, watched a couple of strong men perform some of their act for us, and got the lay of the land.

Le Noir |a little bird made me

Jeronimo and Jessica, two of the stars, whirling around really fast on roller skates on a table top sized platform, during the ‘tech run’.

Tech run|a little bird made me

The tech run stage set up – and yes she is hanging by her feet as he twirls her around very fast on rollerskates.

Valeri and Yani, the strong men, showing us just how strong they are.

Valeri and Yani, the strong men, showing us just how strong they are.   

Yep – this is the upside to using social media. You have doors open that would never have been thought of before!  And you get to share amazing experiences with people all over the world.  (I am still a little mind-blown about how this all happens,to be honest, but am happy to keep seeing where the ride takes me!)  Of course, I take all these photos using my phone.  Some turn out well, while others just give you a ‘general impression’. (Which means fuzzy, out of focus but ‘hey I was there’ sort of shots!)

To say that it was an amazing experience is a little trite.  But the best was to follow, as we were also given tickets to the opening night show – which was a sell out.

The atmosphere was electric before the show started.

The atmosphere was electric before the show started.

It was a truly entertaining spectacular.  The costumes, the comedic timing of the clown/MC, the hair raising stunts they performed, and the breath taking moments when you thought that maybe, just maybe, something would go wrong!  It was sexy and sultry,and fast and loud, and everything in between! I didn’t dare take photos with my phone during the show , but luckily a friend of mine attended the media call and allowed me to share his shots with you.  See – this is the difference between a camera shot by a great photographer, and a shot with a phone!  (The photographer is Vishal Panday, who you will find on Facebook and Instagram as Wanderlust73.  I highly recommend checking out his work – he is amazing!)

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It appears that we are the end of the Australian tour, but there are shows on here in Canberra until Sunday, and I suspect they will perform in other countries,so if you get a chance to see them I highly recommend it.

The interesting thing was that although we were invited to the very small, intimate after party where the stars of the show joined us for a drink and a chat I was too nervous/shy/not-wanting-to-be-a-groupie to go up and talk to them! Talk about a missed opportunity!  Next time – boldness is the order of the day!

In the meantime, life returns to normal for the day.  Sewing, teaching a workshop at my son’s school on making freezer paper stencils, and buying new feed containers for the chickens. Mundane after the highs of last night, but necessary!!

Clicking into place

I had a moment yesterday when I stopped to think about something for a minute and realised that life is pretty perfect at the moment!  Lots of little things clicking into place, working out, and finding their rhythm.  Times like this need to be celebrated!

My chicks have settled into the school term well, and my boy has managed to attend school for full days on a number of occasions now. This is massive!!  All the hard work that has gone into building stability for him, helping him to develop strategies to cope, working with the teachers and executive staff, and his doctors, is paying off.   (And while part of me is touching wood that it continues because we have had these ups before, followed by big downs, this is definitely something to celebrate!!)

Enjoy life |a little bird made me

The younger two chicks are also happy to spend time with their father more often, so we are slowly, slowly, working towards a regular routine for that too. Another milestone!  (The fact that he has a new puppy at his house is certainly helping in that regard!!)

And, wait for it, it looks like we might have ADSL broadband internet within the week!  After four months on mobile broadband and constantly measuring out little packets of data for the kids, and keeping enough to keep working (and then having the kids completely shape the plan with a Youtube session and paying premium for the rest of the month – $10 per 1GB!!) this will give us all the ability to breathe out!  Homework research can be done, TV viewing can be caught up on, and life can return to it’s 21st century first world normality!

I have also had a busy couple of weeks socially – tickets to shows, dinners, and amazing behind the scenes peeks at a show about to start.  I have to pinch myself – all of this has come about because of my decisions to apply for the Human Brochure last year. My circle of friends and contacts has grown, and I have been able to experience things I would never otherwise have been able to do.

Even better, we are falling into a routine at home that sees me having one to two days a week where I can focus on my business!  I have been developing new products, designing pieces I have wanted to make for years, and starting to build up stock.  Absolute bliss!

I also have a wide circle of friends who are creative, generous, and talented.  I can now recommend awesome craftspeople to my friends when they ask for a referral to have a chair fixed, a lampshade made, a dress designed, a website built.  I love being able to share the love!

Other's opinions |a little bird made me

The irony of this is that in an exchange with my ex-husband last week he told me that those who read my ‘internet stories’ tell him that I make it appear that my life is hard and that I am a victim.   As this couldn’t be further from the truth, I hope that anyone reading this appreciates that I am delighted that all the hard work, difficult choices, and rearranging of priorities over the last few years is paying off, as I always hoped knew it would.  The challenges that my children and I have faced over the last few years were tough, but we were never victims – we are and always will be, if I have anything to say about it, survivors.

I hope that your life is clicking into place for you this week too, and that you have something to celebrate.

Ups and downs

This week has been a whirlwind of activity. Meetings, errands, nights out, housekeeping, and one glorious day at home. And this is what I designed and made in that day!

Teething rings|a little bird made me
Teething toys with a wooden ring and one of my silicone tips! I do love a new product!

I also completed a custom ordered cushion cover for a 9 year old’s birthday. I challenged myself and made and installed piping for the first time. (I need to perfect corners!). I was to deliver it yesterday, but when I got to town I realised that I had left it at home. I rang mum and she met me half way to hand it over, and I dropped it into the Shop on time so that the customer could collect it. Phew. Then I get a message last night saying the customer loves it but I have missed a piece of applique stitching.

IMG_5026.JPGAnd she is right!!! I am mortified- and having to laugh at the irony that after being so proud of my efficiency in getting it delivered despite having forgotten it, I then had to drive in to town and collect it, repair and return. I was getting too smart for my own good there!

Every day a little thing happens to confirm that moving out here and sharing the property and our lives with my parents was the right thing to do. (And not just Mum driving to meet me half way when I forget something!). They babysat for me twice this week and there was no stress, no drama, just normal routine for the kids. Of course the down side is that two late nights in a row mean two late nights in a row for them.

It is not without it’s challenges though.  Life with children brings new and interesting surprises every day.  Today was the announcement by my boy that he had been testing how strong the pipe from the dam to the pump was, and now there was water coming out of it…….  Some investigation and breathing out later it was revealed that the strength of the pipe had been tested with an axe……..   More breathing out and mantras of calmness later a solution for repair was identified, and the pipe is fixed.  For me it identified that this was nothing to do with my boy’s special needs, and everything to do with him being an 8 year old.  He is testing boundaries, exploring our new environment and having fun.  And 8 year olds, no matter how intelligent, don’t always think of the consequences of their actions.   I had to think back to things I did when I was 8.  And remind my Dad (who was struggling to understand why someone would do something like this) of how we behaved when he was 8.  It helped us both to breathe out, and keep our cool.  Just.  Needless to say, the axe, the pocketknife, and all other tools are now out of bounds for some time.

One day full of production, and one day full of unexpected activity that felt like nothing was achieved.   The ups and downs and unpredictability of life!

For now I am back to my plans.  New products to make, an online shop to open (or re-open), baking to do, and events to attend.  And to keep our spirits up, this tree in the front yard is ablaze with colour.  Fingers crossed that I get a day of production rather than a day of unexpected activities.

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