Tag Archives: ADHD

Thoughts about Mental Health (now that’s ironic)

While at my cutting table, preparing some new stock (‘hooray’ I hear some say, ‘finally’ say others) I have been reflecting on two different conversations that I have had in the past week, and how I have responded, reacted and considered the issues raised.

The first was a conversation with a friend last week who was complaining about his ex-wife and in the midst of the conversation said ‘And you know she is still on antidepressants.’  This took me aback and I blurted out ‘But so am I.’   (He has known me for a long time and we have discussed my medication on several occasions.)  He responded “But you are pretty high functioning, and able to operate at a senior management level” as if this somehow meant that I didn’t need to be on anti-depressant medication.

My response was that people of all walks of life, with all sorts of ability take antidepressants.  This does not mean that they are not capable, not able to function, not ‘sane’ (which was the underlying message about his ex-wife of course).  It really got me thinking about how so much of society sees that medication for mental health is somehow not a good idea, or a sign of weakness, or a sign of an unstable character.

Talking openly about mental health isn't the easy choice, but it is the right one.

Talking openly about mental health isn’t the easy choice, but it is the right one.

Then yesterday I received a communication from my ex-husband who suggested that our son may have an auditory processing disorder, and that I should research this, as it can often be mistaken for ADHD (which our son is diagnosed with, along with other mental health issues.)  Now apart from the fact that I already have an independent psychological assessment report that states that our son has processing difficulties (that has been provided to his father) it made me realise that because our son’s condition is being treated so effectively with medication, (after years of trial and error with everything from naturopaths, chiropractors, diet, exercise, behavioural management strategies etc – so please don’t offer me new alternatives to medication) his father now thinks that he doesn’t have the very issue that he is being medicated for.

While my initial reaction might have been anger at yet another challenge to the professional advice that I have sought and questioned and administered over the last 4 years, it occurred to me a little later on that perhaps the two conversations had something in common.

Neither of these men would suggest that a person prescribed medication to address a heart condition should not take it.  Neither would they consider offering their own diagnosis on what the ‘actual’ problem was.  They wouldn’t suggest that this person wasn’t fit and proper to carry out their job based on their use of prescription medication.  But when it is a mental health issue, they were both happy to judge, to re-diagnose, to second guess and to ignore the effects of medication as treating a medical condition.

None of this is new I suppose.  It just saddens me that despite education, information, and open conversations, people still can’t see past their prejudice about mental health to look at the evidence sitting in front of them.   I don’t have any answers to how to solve this, but I am comfortable with my resolve to talk about my experiences with my own mental health and that of my children (where appropriate) to remind people that depression and anxiety can affect anyone from any walk of life, and is treatable.  Maybe it will help someone else to understand that it is simply another medical condition. Nothing more, nothing less.

And now I return to cutting out fabric.  Happy days!

Finding time

I have been reflecting over the last week on what it is that I am doing with my time!  When I worked full time I seemed to have more time to sew, to blog, etc. Now that I am self-employed I seem to be running in circles all the time.  I am not sitting idle, and am not spending hours surfing the internet, yet I seem to not get to the things that I want to do.  This was frustrating me for quite a while, until I realised that the things that I have added in to my days are the very reasons that I am no longer working full time.

Over the last few years I have had to shift my priorities.  I have had to change my parenting style. I have re-invented our day to day life.  (Not just once!).  The reason that I have less time available to sew, or blog, or return phone calls, or pay bills (oops!) is because I am more present in my children’s lives.  I am still not engaged at the level that I could be, and am certainly not a saint (heaven forbid) but I have come to realise that by spending more time putting the children first our life is better.  Now when my boy is starting to get angry and lash out I can normally pin point the cause within a few minutes.  I can usually remember the strategies that will help him to calm down without escalation.  (Usually.  Definitely not always.)   When my artist-in-residence is collapsing in a ball of spiky frustration I can see where it has come from and help her to unravel and calm down.  (Sometimes).  And when my eldest chick is having completely out of character episodes of appalling behaviour I have no idea.  Until I empty her rubbish bin and realise that she has been sneaking her little brother’s snacks – full of gluten – and her body is attacking itself.

Much easier to be kind to myself when I think about what we have dealt with each day and how we have resolved it!

I have had a couple of great moments this week that I wanted to share.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to see Mary Poppins, the musical, being produced by the Free Rain Theatre Company at the Canberra Theatre.  (One of the amazing up-sides of the Human Brochure experience has been invitations to so many wonderful events!)  I took the artist-in-residence and we absolutely loved it!  It was, to quote Mary herself, ‘practically perfect, in every way’. We even had a chance to have our photos taken with some of the cast afterwards!

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The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

This weekend just past was also very special.  The Handmade Markets were on, in a new location here in Canberra.  I am still not at the point where I am ready to return to having my own stall, but I love my role in the background of the markets, which allows me to interact with all the market designers on an individual level.  The exposure to so many talented people is a true delight.  Even better, I was able to take the children with me and when we stopped to talk to different stallholders the children had the chance to interact with them too.  They got to taste beautifully handcrafted chocolate (thanks Cicada chocolate!), to receive hugs and rainbow roses from GG’s flowers (special hug thanks to Gayana), and the artist-in-residence was able to talk to different artists about their work and her own art.  Mick from Leafy Sea Dragon presented her with one of his cards depicting one of his own artworks as an encouragement to another artist.  She was thrilled!

The eldest chick and her two friends ran their own business throughout the markets, providing stall holder support.  They were exhausted but very happy and very proud at the end of the weekend.  This band of 12-year-old young women are learning about money management, customer service, hard work, planning, and innovation at a young age and I could not be prouder of them!!

I also managed to sneak myself a treat on Friday night.  I had an hour to fill between finishing helping with the market set up, and when I was to collect the children from their father’s house.  I thought about ringing friends etc but decided to take myself into town for a meal on my own.  We have an area here called ‘The Hamlet’ which is where the gourmet food vans park, and various funky shops are tucked away.  I went to the Mr Papa van – Peruvian Street Food.  Oh my goodness.

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The burger made with slow cooked pork belly, sweet potato, and a very tasty sauce and salsa combo is heavenly!   I then followed it up with a little trip to the Frugii Dessert Laboratory where the ice-cream alchemist creates beautiful ice-creams, and desserts!  (The owners are also delightful people!)

017b44bb4b29c63f9f742e0e02f00cabd99df22e73I had the choux pastry with hazelnut cream, and blood orange syrup.  And even better – I had time to sit and enjoy and just have time to myself.  Talk about bliss!

Baby set |a little bird made me

A custom order set for a baby overseas

After all this inspiration my plan was to sew, design, and create all week.  Hmmmm…… the best laid plans!  Between routine medical appointments, school meetings, housework, and general family commitments, I have managed only a very small amount of sewing.

Ipad case and accessories |a little bird made me

An ipad case, coin purse and key fob for a birthday girl in Melbourne.

The good news though is that I have created some new pattern templates, which is speeding up my process a lot.  (Instead of measuring and cutting each piece I am now using a template to cut each piece – such a simple thing but one I just hadn’t done!!)  I also finally made a key ring fob – something on my ‘to do’ list for a long time.  I like it!  Maybe I should make some more…..    where is that ‘to-do’ list again?

Our farm |a little bird made me

Wandering on the farm is a delightful pastime

Dam | a little bird made me

The dam is the source of much entertainment – and home to some venomous snakes!

Farm life |a little bird made me

I love the skies out here!

I did spend time with my boy down at our dam finding rocks, sticks and long grasses to try and create ‘survival tools’ like spears and knives.  We haven’t been particularly successful yet but we have had a lot of fun trying!

And I indulged in some fabric shopping – with no particular project in mind!  It is just so lush!  The new range from Skinny la Minx, via Hawthorne Threads.  Drool.

01336619eb5f8a927b88032198547f2c2f9f3620e1Now to decide what to do with it!  Choices, choices, choices!

I hope that you have been able to find time for yourself in your week too.

 

 

Real stuff

Although I have plenty more to tell you about and share with you about my human brochure experience (which continues to be quite awesome) it is time to return to regular programming and talk about sewing, or not sewing, family, growing, learning, etc. All the fun stuff that makes being alive interesting!

The last two weeks have been a bit tumultuous in the nest.  We tried a change in the boy’s medication and it was less than successful.  While we seem to be back on the right path now, it has been a rough road for him, the school, and the family.  He has been at home with me most days for the last fortnight, and has needed a lot of support.  And that means very little sewing.  I have custom orders cut out and ready to go…. but haven’t quite got to the machine.  Luckily I am keeping an eye on all my time lines and don’t think any of them will be late……. if all goes to plan! Instead of sewing he and I have built some impressive indoor forts.

The first indoor 'fort', including bedroom area.  (Lasted one day)

The first indoor ‘fort’, including bedroom area. (Lasted one day)

 

 

Second indoor fort built with better engineering, having learnt from the first.  This on had 'office spaces' and has lasted 5 days so far.  (Its days are now numbered.)

Second indoor fort built with better engineering, having learnt from the first. This one has ‘office spaces’ and has lasted 5 days so far. (Its days are now numbered.)

However, once again, the stress and trauma have provided life lessons and room for growth. I was very stressed, and felt under pressure in dealing with the boy’s father, worrying about my inability to work (and therefore earn income), and not being able to keep up with other commitments.  I let it get to me, and felt that the sky was falling.  Strangely enough this was not helping the situation at all.  (Yes you can imagine me rolling my eyes at my self at this point.)  Unfortunately I let the eldest chick (the one who carries all our worries on her shoulders despite my best efforts) see my stress, and become a part of it.  It has weighed heavily on her when I have calmed down and moved on.  Big lesson there about not catastrophizing, and keeping some perspective!

I also sat down with the boy and talked to him about how he and I needed to work together to help each other to find a way through these problems.  It gave him and I a new perspective, and we have spent the last two days celebrating the good in each other, and helping each other to deal with things going wrong. He has been coaching me in kicking a football (so supportive and encouraging with his non-sporty mother) and I have been helping him with strategies to stay calm when he feels frustrated. Between the two of us we have had some good days.  The house is chaotic, I have done no work, and I am behind in all sorts of things, but my stress levels are much lower, and he is much happier.  Big reminders for me about focussing on the important stuff, and letting go of the small stuff.

Through all of this there have been some wonderful moments.  I had a meeting with one of the owners of Handmade Canberra (you know – the place where I sell my bags and bibs, the people who organise the markets that I attend, and the place I rave about) and have agreed to do some work for them.  A bit of admin work, background stuff, and advertising pieces.  All ‘stuff’ that I enjoy, and a nice little piece of steady work to help balance the books with the bank!  I am very excited about the possibilities that this work will bring, and working with these lovely ladies, so am doing little happy dances up and down on the inside!  Plus it still leaves me time to sew, to grow my business and have flexibility to be with my family when they need me.

I was also fortunate enough to accompany the eldest chick on her interview to attend the high school that we have chosen for her.  She spoke with poise, grace, intelligence and a nice level of humour.  The principal who was interviewing her was warm, intelligent and caring.  I am hopeful that our application will be successful as I think this school will be very good for her.

The artist in residence has attended her first school camp this week and returned dishevelled, tired and very happy with her adventures!

I also made it to one human brochure experience at a new boutique brewery that I will write about in more detail soon, but which was a delightful experience (and this from someone who doesn’t really drink beer).

Two beers and one apple cider as part of our taste testing and experience at Bentspoke Brewery - more to come on this!

Two beers and one apple cider as part of our taste testing and experience at Bentspoke Brewery – more to come on this!

 

Spherical sculpture outside the National Gallery of Australia

Spherical sculpture outside the National Gallery of Australia

Then tonight I was able to have a last minute RSVP to an amazing experience at the National Gallery of Australia in an outdoor installation called ‘Within Without’ by James Turrell.  We had a talk from the curator, with background on the artist, the installation, etc, then were able to watch dusk through the skyscape.

The top of the entrance to the Within Without installation.  You enter a stoop, then the skyscape chamber.  Beautiful!

The top of the entrance to the Within Without installation. You enter a stoop, then the skyscape chamber. Beautiful!

Walking into the installation "Within Without" at the National Gallery of Australia.

Walking into the installation “Within Without” at the National Gallery of Australia.

The gardens and ponds surrounding the Within Without installation are beautiful pieces of art in their own right.  With ducks.

The gardens and ponds surrounding the Within Without installation are beautiful pieces of art in their own right. With ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to do more research on this installation and then write more about it, as this will rate as one of the best visual experiences I have had in my life.  Photos don’t do the experience justice – it is something that you need to see for yourself.  It was calm, peaceful and moving.  Just what I needed to help recentre myself.

While this week has been less than fun on many levels, it has also shown me that my decision to forgo a big salary and ambitious career, and to instead be self employed and not very wealthy, but to have the flexibility to have time with my family, to support them, and to make a new path for us was the right one.  Now if I can just manage some sewing……..

Feeling lyrical

I have been finding myself with lyrics of songs running through my head over the last few days. I made a treasury on Etsy yesterday called “Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to….” (followed of course by “Strawberry Fields.) As I sat down tonight to write this post the first thought in my head was “Do you ever stop and wonder…” which is the first line from Gomez’ Sound of Sounds. I read many years ago that if you listen to the lyrics that you find yourself singing absently, they will give you a good indication of your where your subconscious thought is. Now the first song I can work out easily – not so subconscious really – I saw a picture of some felt strawberry food, the song came into my head and away we went. But I do like the lyrics too – “Living is easy with eyes closed” and “There’s nothing to get hung about”…. quite psychedelic for a sweet sounding song really!

The second song? Ah. That is a little more complex. That shows that I am trying to work out how much of the last few days/weeks I share, and how much I make veiled references to, and how much I just don’t write about. Part of me wants to pour my heart out and completely overshare, but the sensible, logical part of me knows that this isn’t just my life I am writing about. So my compromise is to say that it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks, dealing with my boy and the issues that travel along with him. I have had to take time off work again, as I am worn out and worn down. I hate walking away from my team and not being a consistent leader, but I also know that I have to put my chicks and my health first. Miss N is leaving us earlier than expected, which is a shame, but means that she is home for the snow that she is missing. The best part of all of this though? My amazing mother, with the blessing of my father, flew in today to stay with us for a little while to help support all of us. The house feels lighter already. The boy loves her. He is insisting that she sleep on his trundle bed tonight, as Miss N is still in the spare bed. And bless her – she has agreed to do it. I am so lucky to have such wonderful parents, and that they are still fit and healthy enough to be able to do this.

The chaos of the week was added to when the washing machine decided to stop working mid-way through a cycle on Monday night. Of course the extended warranty finished a few months ago. I have never loved this machine – it has leaked and was noisy and no amount of service calls have fixed either problem. So, with the powers of internet research at my fingertips, the new one arrived today and has been put through it’s paces and we LOVE it. It is quiet! So quiet that we have checked several times to see if it is on! I feel more relaxed already!

But amongst the chaos was also joy. I awoke this morning to a notification that I had sold one of my bags, and that it had sold to someone in Arizona! The chicks have been waiting for the day when, in their words “some random person from overseas” buys one of my pieces. The middle chick announced “You are big in America Mum!” I laughed and enjoyed their joy and celebration! The bag is all bundled up, with a couple of extra gifts added, and ready to mail.

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The part that I really liked though, was that the purchaser has asked me to include the story of the fabric, and my philosophy in making it, etc, with the bag, as it is a gift. What a lovely idea! I am thinking that it might be a nice touch to add to other pieces that I sell, to personalise the sale even more. He also gave me some feedback about my search phrases, and other information on my Etsy shop, so it was a lovely exchange on all levels.

The other joy is the support that people offer when you least expect it. After a relatively public incident with the boy earlier in the week I have had lovely texts, random hugs “just because”, long late night phone calls to discuss craft, kids, and life, and quiet smiles of support over the heads of children being picked up from school. My community is amazing. My chicks and I are loved and supported – all four of us.

Other lyrics that have stayed with me this week include “It’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spend it with you” and of course, “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, Shaved her legs and then he was a she” but that is because I heard the news that Lou Reed has passed away. I was horrified to hear that Miss N (22) had not only not heard of him, but didn’t know his songs! Sacrilege! So I tormented the chicks and her with Lou Reed songs over breakfast and had a beautiful walk down memory lane. The best article I read about him was called “13 reasons why you will never be a cool as Lou Reed.” Says it all really.

With a bit more sleep under my belt, I hope to get back to sewing in the next few days. I have realised that with Mum here I can make all the Christmas presents for the family in New Zealand for her to take home. Which has focussed me on Christmas a little earlier than planned – which may mean that I am organised earlier this year. But let’s not hold our breath on that one! I am thinking of some Christmas gift lists I might put together for you all to help with handmade gift ideas – which as usual seems like a nice idea but is really my completely selfish way of working out what I want to make for my friends and family! I do have a head start though – I am a guest contributor on Sew Mama Sew as part of their Handmade holidays series for November, with my eco friendly gifts being featured on 10 November! (To say that I am excited is an understatement!!)

My final lyric that has been running through my head tonight is from Steve Earle’s ‘Every part of me’. “I love you with all my heart, all my soul, every part of me”. Sums up how I feel about my chicks really. No matter how much heartache I go through for them, I still love them with every fibre in my being. I am lucky!

I hope that your week is going well, and that the lyrics providing the musical score for you life are wonderful ones!

Ah the serenity.

The camping (or glamping) trip is over and the chicks have departed for a trip with their father for the remainder of the school holidays. The house is strangely quiet. Miss N is still here with me, but she is off doing something and the only sounds are the keyboard, the hum of the house staying warm, and the gusts of wind outside. It is lovely.

The camping adventure was just what we all needed. The weather was perfect, the sea was cold, the rockpools were teaming with life, the kangaroos weren’t too intrusive, our neighbours were nice, and the chicks met new friends amongst the other campers.

RooThe obligatory kangaroo shot for my overseas readers!

The middle chick had been complaining at home of ‘being too stressed’ which is, while slightly amusing coming from an eight year old, a sad indication of how we were all feeling by the end of school last week. On the camping trip she smiled, laughed, relaxed and agreed with me that she felt much better. She learnt to ride a skateboard and had a great time doing laps of the campground and gaining confidence and speed. The boy found new friends everywhere for the first day or so, then found a lovely boy to play with, whose parents were equally lovely so we shared some time with them. I didn’t give the boy any of his ADHD medication while we were camping and he just ran, talked, scootered, dug, ran, and enjoyed each hour of daylight – then passed out in his stretcher. He didn’t need to be focussed on anything, and there was so much open space for him to burn up energy in, that I decided to just let him go. I think it was good for all of us. It was strange to be away without the eldest chick but she had a wonderful time on her road trip with her father.

Beach

Another sunset shot from Monday night because it was just so lovely I have to share!

Now, while I try to clear my head and get myself mentally stronger so that I can go back to work in a week or two with all the energy I need to do my job properly, I have time at home without the chicks. Time for crafting. Time for planning. Dangerous time really! My ‘to-do’ list is long. Too long. So I am going to dive in and see what I accomplish before something bright and shiny distracts me!

My plan (in no particular order):
Finish the memory quilt.
Take the boy’s quilt-top to the quilter to be quilted.
Renew my driver license (because my birthday is soon and that is when it expires!)
Make a present for the middle chick’s birthday.
Prepare for the middle chick’s birthday party.
Prepare a submission for a grant to support the boy.
Make some bags for the Etsy shop, and for the December stall.
Make some cushion covers for both.
Make some overnight bags for both.
Make some nappy mats for both.
Make some zipped pouches.
Make some ipad covers.
Make, make, make, make.
Finish my shelf stands and paint the shelves.
Make a screen frame for the craft stall.
Work on my business plan.
Oil the front and back deck.
Oil the kitchen bench.
Oil the outdoor furniture.
Mow the lawn.
Clean the carpet.
Tidy up the disaster that the boy created in his room before leaving.
Change over the chicks’ wardrobes for the change of seasons.
Relax and rest and get better.
Join the gym.
Go to the gym.
Walk the dog.
Prepare my papers for the accountant.
Visit the accountant to do my tax return.
Do some bulk cooking so the freezer is re-stocked.
Go on a diet.
Recover the lounge chairs.
Plant a vege garden.

Hmmmmmmm……..I stopped typing, not because I ran out of things to type, but because as I typed I realised that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Again! Might need to work on priorities, or outsourcing, or ignoring some of the list.

Back to enjoying the serenity for a while as I contemplate that!
I will, of course, let you know how I go!

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!

Floriade

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.

cape3  cape2

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).

cape4 cape5

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.

cape1

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!)

Silver linings

My brain is full to the brim at the moment, teasing out new ideas and strategies to support my boy. I have moments of intense clarity, and then moments when I feel like I am swimming through custard (which sounds tastier than it feels!). Thinking about starting new sewing projects seems a bit overwhelming when there is so much else to think about. Instead I have finished one project (the beautiful pile of capes – more detailed photos will follow after the recipients have tried them on), and played with the camera on my phone to capture some of the colourful and positive things happening in our lives. We have much to be thankful for, despite my feelings of gloom.

The stress of trying to find the right support for my beautiful boy has triggered some fairly intense anxiety moments, so I have decided to use that for good and not evil, and today began the room by room clean up of the house that has been required for so long. Nothing like finding the silver lining in this cloud! The other silver lining? Everything I am doing to support him this week is working. He was so proud to report to the paediatrician today that “I have made good choices for four whole days!”. Yesterday morning I went to wake him up and he wasn’t in his bed. I presumed that he had snuck into my room to use the ipad. Instead I found him sitting on a chair in the lounge, cuddling the dog and having a gentle morning chat to her. Moments like that melt my heart and remind me of why I am fighting for him, and why I can’t give in or give up.  My two girls also need some extra love and support at the moment.  Thank heavens for Miss N the au pair who is proving to be just the beautiful soul that we all needed in our lives.

So please bear with me while I have a break from regular crafty blogs and instead provide the occasional photo of something that is making me happy. You never know – I might even finish cleaning the house and start sewing furiously! It has happened before……..

Little steps

I have christened the new sewing space quite successfully! Two fold up baby change mats, on order from a friend. The space works well – not just a lovely view in the day, but good table space for cutting and piecing, so I am giving it a big tick! I do have photos to share with you as long as you promise to ignore the piles of plastic bags under the table! I have collected free fabrics through the freecycle network recently and haven’t had a chance to sort them into keepers/trash/pass-it-on, so the bags form a messy mini-mountain at the moment.
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Night time (maybe the shadows hide the mess!)

sewingspace

Daylight (with my lovely big window view to distract from the mess!)

The change mats are an adaptation from the tutorial I used for the last one. I decided that the Velcro that I put on last time, and then had to create a flap to cover to the baby’s head wouldn’t be scratched, could be improved by a different method of closure – Velcro on a flap which highlights the fabric used to line it. So here they are!
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The situation with the boy has not been good this week. I have had to do a lot of soul searching, research and analysis to think about why/what/how – why he is the way he is, what is best for him, what is needed, how best to support him, why he flies into these vicious rages, how to avoid them, why he is worse at school than at home, etc, etc, etc….. I think I have worked out some answers. Yesterday I took him to a naturopath who ‘tested’ him and diagnosed that he shouldn’t have any additives, preservatives, colours, or tomatoes. Now while there is not a strong science behind the ‘testing’ I am prepared to try this as it can’t hurt, and may help. Luckily our diet is pretty good due to the girl’s coeliac condition, so it won’t take a radical change to our lifestyle.

I also attended a meeting with Education office and school officials today to discuss a strategy for him. For the first time I think that the school is going to be given the right support to be able to support him. I hope it isn’t a case of too little, too late, as the stress of supporting him has taken it’s toll on school staff. I am just quietly holding my breath and crossing my fingers that the plan will work, and he will be happier, safer, and calmer at school, which will allow him to learn and succeed. Little steps. Little steps.

Finding more sewing projects to keep my mind busy is not hard. Today I have been continuing to cut out and piece together the fabrics to make up an order of 8, yes, 8 super hero capes. One of the capes has a request for a minecraft pick axe as the superhero emblem. I am trying to work out if I can patchwork/pixelate it! Between that and a unicorn head, an old fashioned candy and various other requests I am having fun! Photos will, of course, follow!

I hope that your week is going well, and that there are bright things to balance the need for any little steps.

Sharing the wisdom of Christopher Robin

No list of Friday finds tonight. I have found many things today, but none suitable for a list worth sharing. I have been re-arranging the house in preparation for the arrival of the au pair. Beds have been moved, floors cleaned, couch covers washed, drawers emptied, desk legs swapped, bookshelves slid, and many, many dust bunnies uncovered. Nothing like an impending guest to have the complete Spring clean kicked off! We can now navigate the hallway without having to detour through other rooms to pass the piles of linen, soft toys and assorted ‘things’ I have found, but we are not quite there yet. I, however, am exhausted.

Yesterday was draining, so a day of cleaning, sorting, moving and creating new spaces was just what the doctor ordered. The boy had a day at home with me, at the request of his school, and it was a happy, calm day.  I am continuing to explore strategies and options to support him.  Last night I read pages of material on ADHD, in an effort to develop another strategy.  The MIML rang and talked through some suggestions and ideas.  It all helps to push back the feeling of helplessness and being lost.   Today I made some enquiries with some local schools that offer different approaches in teaching.  I will do some tours and investigate further, while I explore the idea that he may learn more in an environment that allows a more flexible approach to learning, with a higher ratio of teachers to students.  I don’t think it will be the answer to everything, but might offer some different options.  In the meantime I decided that another quote is required.  This one, from AA Milne, spoken by Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh, is needed by both the boy and myself at the moment I think.

We are our toughest critics ... so give ourselves a break and reflect on this.

On that positive note I welcome in the weekend, and all the joy (and electioneering) that it brings.

If you are in Australia – don’t forget that your vote counts!!

 

Being competitive!

Apparently I have a competitive streak. Who knew? (That is definitely rhetorical as I am sure that many of my friends and family would confirm that they have always known this to be true.) I wrote last week about my staff member who had started geocaching and found quite a few in a short space of time. That has (finally) spurred me on to get the kids out to find more and expand our searching territory.

Thursday saw us go for a lovely walk with the dog to find 7 geocaches. They were disguised in all sorts of ways. Our favourite for the day was one that was hanging by a thread of fishing line down inside a bridge railing.  We had a great time and agreed that we need to do it more often. The satisfaction for the day was finding a cache in a park close to our suburb that we have looked for without success twice before.  (I should add persistent to the competitive description!)

On Friday while we went to the chiropractor’s office to pick up the prize that the boy won in a colouring in competition (he was SO proud!!) we found one in the park next door – and realised that we could achieve 31 caches in 31 days, which is a geocaching promotion for August. As we log a cache each day we get a little award. Saturday I was trying to motivate the chicks to go out and find a cache to continue past day 1 (it logs on American time so our 7 caches on 1 August didn’t count!) but wasn’t making much ground. A short time later the artist-in-residence was on the computer playing Minecraft when an email arrived announcing a new cache in our area (which covers the Australian Capital Territory and parts of New South Wales). She clicked on it out of interest, realised that it had been released by friends of ours who don’t live too far away, and all of a sudden was motivated!  She and I jumped in the car (she still wearing her hair turban after her bath and me getting dressed in my jacket in the car) and raced off to be the ‘first to find’ the new cache – a very cute little mushroom hidden amongst autumn leaves!  We were very excited – and ticked the box for one cache for the day!

Not being content with this, and determined to stay ahead of the new team, today saw the children and I go for a 2 1/2 hour walk with our very good friends who introduced us to geocaching, to find 16 caches! So our stats are looking good. Our favourite cache – this sneaky hide up under a bridge where the cache was on a chain up the hole! (Defying gravity really – and spooky when the chance of poisonous spiders is ever present!). My beautiful friend Ms C was the brave one who retrieved it while I pretended to be busy checking the map (!!!).

geocache

The behaviour of the children on the walk had their mother feeling quite challenged. They weren’t misbehaving per se, but the whinging from the middle chick, the uber-competitiveness of the eldest chick (can’t think where she gets that from) and the boy’s obsession with wanting to organise a play date for the afternoon (imagine saying ‘no’ in every possible way pretty much non-stop for over two hours) wore me down. So I put myself to bed for a nap when we got home. I think that the concept of ‘time-out’ that we used when they were children – one minute for each year of their age – works quite well for adults. I need to put myself into time-out more often!

Of course, having a nap did mean that my planned crafting for the afternoon didn’t happen. I am close to finishing the blocks for the ‘memory’ quilt that my housekeeper asked me to make for her. I am happy with the way that they are turning out, although the rayon is slippery and doesn’t sit well. I am relying on the strong cotton sashing and the quilting process to hold it all in shape! She has asked for it to be sashed in brown as she has brown tones in her bedroom. I plan to incorporate more of the red into the border too, so hopefully will get that finished this week.

quilt block

So many of you have written beautiful words of support in response to my post a couple of weeks ago about my boy.  While his behaviour still challenges me, there are signs that we are on the right path.  This morning I asked him whether he feels any different after taking his tablets.  He said “It feels like the tablets are killing the brain scramblers”.  Wow.  (I clarified with him that this means that when he takes the tablets his brain feels like it unscrambles and that this is a good thing.)  What a telling statement though.  It gives me hope that we are doing the right thing.

I also had some lovely words of encouragement about the fact that I have started dating someone.  Some of the nicest comments have been that he will be ‘checked out’ to ensure that he is good enough for me, and one lovely friend who kindly wrote that she hopes that he knows that he is punching above his weight.  I feel so blessed that my friends think I am special, and that they have my back.  As I said last week, it is still early days, and anything could happen.  But in the meantime my cheer-squad are making themselves heard loud and clear and I love them!

My crafting plans for this week are simple.  I want to finish the quilt top, and make a bag to be donated to a school function I am attending next weekend.  And I have an order for a super-hero cape for a little girl.  I love that I get orders for capes for girls when so much super-hero stuff is aimed at boys.  I don’t make them all ‘girly’ but add a range of colours that identify them as super-heros, whether they are girls or boys.  Fun!

Now it is Sunday night, the pile of washing is in danger of causing an avalanche in the family room, baking for lunchboxes is required, and a bit of cleaning wouldn’t hurt!  I hope that you have a great week, with plenty of creativity and that you find something to be competitive about!!  (I will be aiming to log one cache a day – which might mean ducking out at lunchtime without the kids, just to stay ahead!!)