Tag Archives: balance

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.

 

 

Two steps forward, one step back

My small start back into sewing went quite well last week.  I made a few more iPad covers, remembered (well – was reminded) that I still ‘owed’ my kids a few promised sewn projects, and started developing some new designs.

One of the products that I want to develop is a man’s wallet.  (I also want to make a woman’s wallet/purse but with Father’s Day around the corner thought that the men’s products had to take priority!)  I played around with some ideas and then made this prototype.

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I put it up on my Facebook page and asked for feedback.  Quite a few of my lovely female followers responded, with many of them commenting that it needed a closure of some description.  There were also comments on fabric, leather, colour etc, but I am not too concerned about those as simply making items with different combinations addresses that issue.  However I was concerned about the fastening issue, so I put a post on my personal Facebook profile, asking for input from males on the question of fasteners on wallets.  The first response was ‘No fastener for me. If you need one of those you’re not a man.’  And the following 40+ responses followed that pattern, except for one friend who responded that he had a fastener, then read the other comments and made various ‘manly’ statements to reclaim his manhood.  The respondents were of varied ages, educations, locations, backgrounds etc, so I think this is a fairly definitive indication that men do not like fasteners on their wallets!   I will tinker a bit with the design and hope to make some more this week, and will be sure to label the wallets as ‘man approved’ so that the women buying them don’t think they should have a fastener!

I also put out some feelers on whether people preferred baby bibs to fasten on the back or the side.  The responses were mixed, so I have decided for my next range of bibs to do a bit of both!  This was a custom order, but I plan to make a few more, and make some square ones with teether chews.

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I then had a great Saturday afternoon and produced a Kindle cover, shoulder bag, and library bag for my chicks (finally!!)

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The shoulder bag as a work in progress

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Kindle cover

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Library bag for the boy using the fabric he chose some weeks ago.

My steps forward were going well.  But I feel like I am going backwards this week.  The boy only managed to last 40 minutes at school today.  Last week he was there most days for between one and two hours, so I had some time to get things done.  This week, although we have only just started, I am feeling much more dejected about my ability to sew, to earn a living on my own terms, and to keep everything afloat.  I have finally decided to apply for some government benefits to help out.  While part of me feels grateful that the services are there, the other part of me is falling into a deep well of self pity wondering how I went from high-flying lawyer to government benefits.  Of course I know the logical answers – parenting a child with special needs means a change of course – but it is still sucking the energy out of me.    My mission this week, then, is that, in between filling out many, many, many forms, and organising my financial records for my tax return, I will find time to make things that are fun, and will re-energise me.

One of my ideas is to make a few more stencilled bags.  I made these two over the weekend as gifts, and enjoyed it, so a few more will be fun!

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I have also been playing with ideas for handwarmers and road tested a couple  with my boy and his friend yesterday – and received positive feedback from them, so will try to make a few more – sure to get me up and going!

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Right.  Here I go, off to get re-energized and move forward again!

 

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……..

Being human

This week I am able to announce that I am officially human.  Even better, I am a local human.  I am one of 101 local humans selected to be part of a ‘human brochure’ about Canberra.  My chicks think it is hilarious that I am now a local human.  Over the next couple of months I will meet my fellow 100 humans and we will get to visit all sorts of VIP events at local attractions – many of which involve food and/or alcohol, and places I haven’t visited.  The chicks get to attend a few events with me too.  Then we get to spend time sharing our experiences in our local region, using social media, culminating in a weekend in October where we can show our city off to family from out of town.  It is a pretty big deal.

Of course, you know me – part of me is terrified about all the juggling of competing priorities, about letting myself put me first for once, about meeting all these uber-cool fellow humans and remembering that they have all been fooled into thinking that I am uber-cool too.  The other part of me is really excited about getting to go out and have fun with adults doing cool things!  If you follow me on any of the social media I use (instagram, twitter, facebook – oh my I am so cool these days) you will see the hashtag #humanbrochure appearing and you will now know what it is about! (and I promise I will try to reduce my use of the word ‘cool’, given that it isn’t actually that ‘cool’ these days.)

Of course, with the confirmation that I am human, comes the realisation that I am a mere mortal, and therefore fatally flawed.  Which isn’t really a surprise to anyone!  The notification about being human also arrives at the same time as a whole slew of good things, and an avalanche of challenges.  Life.  Gets you every time doesn’t it?

Good things first (then you can choose to skip the challenges if you want!)  I was selected as part of the launch of a new feature on Ebay where you can make your own collections of things that you like.  They selected a pile of bloggers and other people to create the first collections, to set the scene for the launch.  So far I have had two sets of 5 collections approved, and am working on a 3rd.  I tend to use Ebay for very functional things, so taking the time to stop and look around has been interesting.  One thing I have learned, very quickly, is the importance of good product shots.  I have been aware of it for selling on Etsy for a long time, but really hadn’t thought about it in the Ebay context, until I was looking for images that would hang together well.  Oh my there are some shockers out there.  One image of a gorgeous vintage porcelain piece had a background of a piece of uncovered, dirty rubber foam.  Others showed delicate things for babies sitting on the carpet for the shots – which just didn’t work!  The whole image of Ebay as a place for bargains might be the reason, but given the amazing array of good available there, I suspect that the move to collections might start to have an impact on the way people choose to display their wares.

The next good thing was lovely feedback from a customer, lovely feedback from a colleague, and a request to be allowed to quote one of my blog posts in someone’s book (!!!) all within a day or two.  It is a bit like getting a compliment from a random stranger while walking down the street – it makes your day!  I have also managed to have some of my items on Etsy make the front page after renewing my involvement in my teams on the forums – one of those cases where promoting others really does help yourself.

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This one made the front page of the US site, so massive exposure for my bag!

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The middle chick is currently directing the shooting of a video that will star the boy, as an entry in a competition to represent the local milk company.  Whether they win or not is irrelevant as they are having so much fun making it, negotiating the story line, and adding special effects – it is hilarious to listen to them!

And finally, I was able to sit down and make my first bag using the leather I recently purchased.  It is very different from sewing with fabric – not just because of the bulk of the leather when dealing with seams etc, but because it seems to stretch and move when it is sewn (despite my judicious use of clothes pegs to hold it together) and unpicking (which I did a LOT of) leaves holes in the leather that don’t disappear like holes in fabric do.  Still – the results are so different to fabric that I think I will continue learning and practising.  I am considering investing in an industrial machine – I suspect that would help a lot!  For this one I used some leather from a piece of milled hide, a part of a sleeve from a suede jacket a friend sent me, and lined it with an indigenous print cotton.

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As for the challenges?  My boy.  That beautiful soul who snuggles in and remembers the most awesome details about conversations you have had years before, who loves to be able to help, who fills my heart with joy.  Once again we are back to dealing with challenges.  The respite gained after the trip to the chiropractor was short lived.  I suspect the change in houses over the weekend contributed to it.  For a boy who doesn’t deal well with change, moving between houses each week is challenging.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  Divorce sucks.  It doesn’t just suck because the adults are hurt and grieving. It sucks because the children who have no control over their environment get hurt, over and over, for years after the fact.  I struggle every day to think about how I can reduced the impact of our family circumstances on my boy.  There are no simple answers.   However his school continue to find ways to support him to feel okay about himself.  When a relief teacher did something in reprimanding my boy that still makes me shake with emotion, the boy was able to come home feeling good about himself (and completely unaware of how upset I was) because the executive teachers made sure that he was safe and felt wanted and useful.  God bless them.   We are entering another phase of analysis and diagnosis with yet another specialist.  The next few months will be challenging.  Again.  Thank heavens that when he is good he is awesome!

Heading into the weekend with the rounds of winter weekend sports, children who need to be ferried from friend to friend, and all the other activities that seem to fill our days of ‘rest’ I am hoping to be able to get a little bit of sewing done – and finishing those last few rounds on the rug for the girls’ room!  I’ll check back in and let you know how it went!

Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

Ticking things off the list

You will be pleased to hear that I am ticking things off my list from earlier in the week. Not a lot, but something is better than nothing!

I made two more cushions
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two of my smaller bags

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and then decided to create a new design for a “Big Bag”.

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I also did some ‘research’ and attended the Handmade Markets here in Canberra. Although I did break my self imposed rule and purchase a ceramic egg holder, a gorgeous tea towel, some beautiful soothing cream, and some very delicious locally made organic chocolates (so good!!)  I also did a lot of observing. I looked at how stall holders held themselves and interacted with their customers (the ones chatting to their friends rather than to customers lost sales), which stalls attracted my eye, how items were displayed, and how frustrating it was to not see the name of the stall holder prominently displayed. I also met a couple of my fellow Etsy sellers who I had interacted with online, got tips from a few other stall holders, and had a lovely chat with a fellow bag maker about the processes we use for our bags – so lovely to talk to someone who understands the practical issues!

I am ticking things of my list at a much slower pace than I would like, but am also listening to my body which keeps telling me that I need rest.  As is so often the case, I didn’t realise just how tired and run down I was until I stopped.  I thought that a couple of days rest after the kids left would do the trick, but apparently that is not the case!  My eldest chick rang me today and asked if I would like them to return a few days early from their trip so that they can be here with me for my birthday.  What a dilemma!  I would love to have them here, but I also know that this is my only chance to rest and catch up before school starts again, and that if they return early that will mean that I lose 4 days of rest…..  So I explained to her why I thought they should stay for the time they planned with their father and assured her that I would be fine on my birthday, even though they won’t be here.  Their father and I don’t always communicate effectively so trying to explain to him that I need the break didn’t go as well as it might have, but I think the eldest chick understands my reasoning.

I had missed a few things off my list when I wrote it – but have achieved a much needed haircut today.  Some medical appointments have been attended or are scheduled (I strained my back earlier in the week – looked like a 95 year old trying to get out of bed for a couple of days there!) and friends have been phoned for a catch up.

But for now, it is a long weekend here, so I am going to listen to my body and get an early night knowing that I can sew tomorrow!!

I hope that you have had a good week.

Things that make you go Hmmmmmm……

Feeling compelled to report on the weather, I have to report that it has been beautiful over the weekend! Sunny and dry. The perfect hint of spring, which is only days away now. In fact it has been so lovely that I have been dreaming of a camping trip. The children’s various sports commitments, plus a looming federal election mean that it is hard to find a weekend that is free, but I have the calendar out and am poring over it intently! (I may just decide to leave town for the election, but it is unlikely that any of my friends will join me!)

The two girls played hockey yesterday and it was a joy to stand next to the worlds smallest goalie and to be in the sun without a jacket on. They did well, with the middle chick/goalie saving two goals and the team winning 5-0. In a scene that had everyone smiling she ran out to save a goal, gave an almighty kick that did the job, and landed on her backside. She immediately sat up saying “I’m okay” in a very chirpy voice, the coach ran onto the field and picked her up so she was upright again and the game continued. It was verbally replayed several times over the course of the day, with much mirth. Her big sister did a great job in defending and was also full of mirth about the world’s smallest goalie and her ‘I’m okay’. The boy was incredibly focussed on the whole game and provided non-stop cheering and encouragement for the whole game. We had a great morning together!

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Look at that sky!!

The rest of the weekend has been busy with children’s social activities. The middle chick had a party to attend for her best-boy friend on Saturday. That, of course, required a gift. I, of course, had not been shopping. She assured me that he didn’t like drawing enough to warrant a pencil roll. Hmmmmm…… then it hit me – a t-shirt with Star Wars fabric. She approved the concept and was happy with the end result, and a crisis (due to a very tight timeframe) was averted!

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While she was at her party the eldest chick had a friend over to play. The visit had been conditional upon both girls cleaning their bedrooms and completing their homework before the appointed time. I am slightly astounded to report that the eldest chick did an amazing job on her room – including vacuuming the carpet. Unfortunately the homework didn’t fare so well as she had ‘forgotten’ to bring it home. Hmmmmm….. On balance, however, the play seemed justified in both households. The two girls decided that they needed to bake. They are both gluten free so were excited to have a cooking buddy. As they pored over books and questioned me about my available ingredients I finally suggested salted caramel fudge (because I had all the ingredients ready from the aborted attempt the week before and knew it would stop the deliberations!) They did a great job, and with a friend visiting, the clean up actually occurred without prompting. Wonders will never cease!

They then decided that, having made the fudge, they should sell it to raise money for breast cancer, which is a cause very dear to the friend as she watches a much loved aunt undergo treatment. After initially supporting them in their concept, a bit of judicious questioning revealed that the audience for the sales was limited to…..me. I pointed out that as I had provided all the ingredients it was a little cheeky to ask me to buy the fudge back. This left the friend a little deflated. But all is not lost! I have since suggested that she host a Pink Ribbon fundraiser morning tea, and that fudge can be part of the menu, and she is now busy planning a fundraising event that will give her a lovely positive focus and a way to help. Ah the complexities of being young women full of ideas. I admire their spirit and optimism and want to bottle it and preserve it for them before they get worn down by life!  I saw this sign on Pinterest today and it made me think that I need this reminder so that I can have that same daily optimism again!

Love it!  I need this as a reminder.

Today was another day of socialising. The boy had a visit to the little sister of the eldest chick’s friend and the two of them had a ball playing with puppies, with lego and in a big cardboard box. Then he came home to have another friend waiting for him and the two of them played a bit of Wii, a lot of imaginary games involving spies and sorcerers in the back garden, and then (unbeknownst to me) a bit of re-decorating the eldest chick’s bedroom with marker pen. Another hmmmmmmm……. Luckily it was waterbased!

The middle chick had her best-weekend-friend (they play together a bit at school but on weekends are usually each other’s first choice of friend to play with) over for the day and they explored the mountain reserve across the road, coming home with animal bones, stones, dirt and a beer bottle. They said that they are examining the environment to see if it is being damaged. They seemed to be drawing a link between the beer bottle and the animal bones. Hmmmmmm….. not a lot of logic but a good conversation to be starting!

The eldest chick had the afternoon at another friend’s house and was apparently soundly beaten playing Yahtzee her friend’s father. There was a bit of fake fist-waving at him in the retelling of the story so I think a good time was had by all.

I am sure you are thinking, well, that is all quite lovely, but where is the crafting bit of the story? Apart from the shirt being whipped up for the gift, not a lot of crafting occurred. I have started working on a commission that is a gift for a very special little person for her birthday, so I have all the fabric cut out and the interfacing prepared. Just working out which pieces I was going to use took quite a while. I don’t want to rush it though, so decided that instead of pushing myself I would give the chicks the time that they needed to see their friends, enjoy the outdoors, and catch up on socialising a bit. I am still not back into a good rhythm to dance through life, but I am slowly picking up the beat again (to overuse the analogy!)

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The week ahead does not hold much prospect of sewing. The eldest chick has the finals of Wakakirri tomorrow night, and then I am away for a work trip overnight in the middle of the week for two full days. Which, with other sporting commitments, takes me through to Friday before I am likely to be free to do anything…. Hmmmmm…..Rather than being upset about it I am thinking that this will be time to think and plan and dream. Then I can return and ‘do’. Hopefully!

I hope that this week sees a hint of spring (or a touch of fall if you are on the other side of the world) and time to do the things that are important to you.

Making new things

This week got off to a great start when I decided to bite the bullet and book my first market stall.  Not content to start small and test things out I jumped straight into a two day booking at the Canberra Christmas markets in December!  Eek!!  I think I will try for a casual stall at a smaller market before then just as a practise run!  Despite worrying that I may have jumped in above my head I am quite excited about the prospect and have spent time researching different ideas for displaying goods, thinking about packaging and banners, tags, small items, and creating a cohesive display.  All so very exciting!!  That is the same weekend that the chicks’ father returns to the country, so the timing couldn’t be better in terms of them being busy catching up with him, and me being able to just enjoy being a stall holder.

With that spurt of adrenaline I decided to set myself some targets this week, instead of being distracted by social ‘stuff’, and it is paying off already!  On Monday I whipped up yet another Trojan tunic for the school performance as one of the eldest chick’s classmates has returned from holiday in time for the finals so now needs to be costumed up.  That took longer than expected while I wrestled with my overlocker tension, but I got there in the end!!

That meant that last night I was free to start on a gift for one of my staff who is about to go on maternity leave.  This achieved three things.  First I get to make something personal for her, secondly I got to try out a pattern I have been eyeing off for a while, and third, I sewed laminated cotton for the first time.

The pattern was a free tutorial on the Jordana Paige blog for a Diaper Changing Pad Clutch.

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Of course, in my measuring and cutting I somehow managed to cut the laminate 3 – 4 inches shorter than I was meant to and wasn’t confident about piecing it, so the mat ended up a bit shorter than it was meant to.

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I also decided to deviate from the pattern a bit (!!) so added sewn in hook and loop fasteners rather than the button and elastic in the pattern.  Then I realised that the spiky hook side would be near the baby’s head, so made a little flap to protect the head!

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I also used bamboo fleece as the batting and decided to quilt it to the lining so that it doesn’t lose its shape when it is washed.

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Overall I am happy with it, although it is wider than I imagined it would be  (which is ridiculous when the measurements were provided and I measured and cut the fabric!  I am rolling my eyes at myself here!).  She will receive it on Friday so I hope that she likes it!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was to sew the laminated cotton.  I had read a lot about how tricky it was, and I just didn’t find it tricky at all, so will now be more prepared to tackle other projects using it!

Not bad for the middle of the week!  Next on the list is a bag for a raffle at work on Friday, superhero capes, the quilt top, the long list of things bursting out of my head at the moment……..  I need more hours in the day!!!

I am struggling with the dance of life a bit at the moment.  Trying to fit in the things that I want to do (sew, design, sew, market, sew, plan), the things that I want the kids to do (sports, homework, music practice), the things that we have to do (eat, sleep, bathe, etc), work (fairly essential to pay for everything else) and time with the new (insert appropriate word here – ‘boyfriend’ seems so silly at my age, we are not yet ‘partners’, ‘flame’ is a bit dramatic, ‘man’ seems a bit pejorative, ‘lover’ takes the blog places I don’t want to go when my parents read it, ‘friend’ seems too coy, and all attempts at incorporating some reference to birds or chicks in keeping with my descriptions of myself and the kids just look majorly dodgy when I type them!!  Suggestions are welcome!)  The analogy of dancing to the rhythm to find the right path through life seems particularly appropriate at the moment.  Maybe I just need to find the right soundtrack!!

I hope that your week is going well, and that you have had small spurts of creativity energy to keep you going!

The holiday is over. The chicks are back in the nest, ready to return to school tomorrow. While I am delighted that they are back, healthy and happy, I did like my little break while they were away! The chance to only worry about me was truly like a holiday. So today we are back to the usual Sunday night routine. The eldest chick has baked cookies for their morning tea at school this week, the clean laundry pile is threatening to hide half the family room, and I am turning my head to the week ahead and trying to recall what I want to share about the week just past.
One thing that I can report is that we have returned to Geocaching after a long, unintentional break. I introduced one of my colleagues to it a couple of weeks ago. He took his family away on holiday and found 23 caches in one week. After one year we were only sitting on 46! Being the competitive creature that I am…..that was enough to spur me on. So while on the road trip to collect the chicks yesterday we found three (and searched in vain for a fourth). Today we went for a walk, with some friends, up the mountain that we live on and found three more. Given that there was a threat of snow and the temperature didn’t get above 6 degrees C, you might start to get a picture of how determined I am to keep ahead of him!! We haven’t stayed true to our aim of achieving 365 this year, but staying ahead of him should keep us going for a while! One of the caches we found yesterday was a delight. It contained ‘licences’ including the laminating pouches for them. The chicks are so proud to now be licensed as follows:

I do hereby grant myself permission to use multi-million dollar military satellites to find hidden Tupperware.  Furthermore I certify that this license is issued in accordance with no known legal requirements in any jurisdiction whatsoever.  This license expires with its owner.

My plan for the time while the children were away was to sew, sew, sew. Although I don’t regret the things I did do (a story for another day) I didn’t get to sew very much. So I set myself a target, (and told my Facebook followers to make myself accountable) that I had to make one colourful bag this weekend. I have done it! And once again I feel like my groove is coming back as a result!

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The return of my chicks has been a little confronting in some respects. I have debated writing about this for a while, but think that to not do so leaves an unexplained gap. Everything in our life is so intertwined and so much results from the issues of my chick, that I think it is better to write about it than to not.

Having a diagnosis for my chick with ‘issues’ just before they went away means that I have had time to think about the implications, to research the options, and to contemplate it all in isolation. It also meant that I have had time to doubt the diagnosis, to think that maybe we (me, teachers, doctors, etc) have all been over-reacting and that I haven’t tried enough, or used enough strategies, or been a good enough parent, or, or, or……… But upon their return, with my eyes wider open, I can see that the professionals are right. My boy, who I describe as all boy, who is always on the go…..is really always on the go. He climbs the door-frames, can’t sit still on the couch, can’t play without talking non-stop, can’t shift his focus to listen to me, including to stop stepping out in front of cars on the road. He gets one idea in his head and can’t be shifted from it, and he moves, non-stop, even in his sleep. My boy, my beautiful boy, who comes into bed in the morning and answers my question of ‘what are you doing’ with “Coming to sleep with you Mummy because I love you”, my boy who loves hugs, and animals, and his family and his friends, my boy has Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder. There. I have said it out loud.

I love him. I love him with my whole being. But he exhausts me. And I am still not sure how I have managed to care for him for nearly 7 years without realising that this was more than a behavioural reaction to his father’s absence, or because I work full time, or because he went to daycare, or because he has anxiety issues, or because his diet needs improving, or, or, or…… That this is biological, and not a minor glitch.

So, after struggling for 20 months, he has started on the prescribed medication today. I was so scared. I thought it would change my boy and stop him being the boy that I know and love. But I need to give him a chance to sit in class for a whole day. To not be labelled the ‘bad’ kid. To learn and succeed. With much trepidation I started……….and nothing happened!! We are starting on a low dose and building, in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, so I expect that there will be some gradual effects. However after being so worried and feeling so guilty and alone this morning, it was almost a disappointment that there was no effect! Talk about a very silly mother! I will persevere and keep loving him and advocating for him and trying to balance his needs against those of his sisters who have suffered so much as a result of the issues we have faced over the last year or two. And I will keep sewing, and making things, and staying as calm as possible. He has a long life ahead of him and we have much to do in order to ensure that it is a good and happy life. I predict many, many bags being sewn over the next few years!!

This week starts off with the hope of things to come, of great opportunities, of colour and creativity, and of love and strength. In other words, back to normal in the nest! I hope that you have a wonderful start to your week, wherever you are.

Nurturing the muse (or just attempting sanity)

Sunday night in the nest is always a little chaotic. I try to hold on to the freedom of the weekend as long as possible, and then reality sets in at about 6pm and I remember that I need to clean up from that very ‘freedom’, prepare for the week ahead, load my photos, list any new items, write this blog entry, put clean sheets on the stripped beds, sign notes for school, feed the dog, and tackle Mount Washmore (which is really Mount Foldmore but is still referred to as Washmore – a teetering pile of clean clothes, sheets, towels, school uniforms, sports uniforms, and generally everything that will be needed urgently first thing tomorrow morning if I don’t fold and sort it tonight.)

In case I haven’t said this before, I LOVE weekends. After years of being a busy social butterfly I am now the complete opposite and work very hard to keep weekends as free from commitments as possible. Sports fixtures and birthday parties are about the extent of it. When I find myself with a day with no ‘bookings’, instead of rushing off to ring my friends to see who is free to go off on some wild adventure with multiple children in tow, these days I stay very quiet about it and inwardly breathe out at the thought of a day where I don’t have to be anywhere at any time.  Which means that I have time to sit, have a cup of coffee and take in the sight of hot air balloons drifting past the back of my porch, looking like musical notes against the electric wires.  (I was feeling a bit poetic this morning!)

Of course I love it when I do catch up with my friends, and think ‘we should do this more often’ – there is just no pleasing some people – but the reason for keeping weekends as simple as possible is that it is part of my plan to keep myself sane (or on bad days – to attempt for sanity!) I suspect that it also contributes to nurturing my creative muse, mojo, or whatever you want to call it! Between a busy office during the week, lots of after school commitments with the children, and all the other busy ‘stuff’ that just comes from being a family, if I don’t carve out some hours for myself on the weekend, then I start to disappear.

Luckily this weekend had a good balance of sports and parties – only one of each – and great weather, so I was able to do lots of thinking, planning and some sewing. I felt rotten on Saturday and thought I was getting another cold, but a bit of resting seemed to do the trick. I used the resting time to make lists. Lists of the things I want to make, lists of the things I want to make right now, lists of the things I could make if I suddenly had a time-turner and could be in two places at once, and then, lists of the supplies I ‘need’ to buy. It was a long list of lists. The inability to do everything I want, all at the same time, can be a little overwhelming, so I chunked it down. The end result? Two overnight bags from the great pattern I bought at the beginning of the year from Gingercake.  One with some lovely fabric I received from Spoonflower earlier this week…

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And the other with some divine retro fabric I bought a few weeks ago….

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I am quite happy with them.  I also intend to make a travel pack to go with them – a zip up pouch and a draw-string bag, but the reality of life means that that might not happen for a day or two….

During the week I made the bag to go with the pouch I posted on Wednesday – a custom order for a colleague at work.  Again I included an adjustable strap – will definitely be making more of those!

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Some of the other ideas I am itching to start on?  A series of appliqued t-shirts, some travel bag sets, some cushion covers, some hats, hot water bottle covers, skirts, pillowcases, ipad covers…..  sheesh!  You can see why my brain is buzzing!

Taking one thing at a time…… have a look at this delightful offering from Spoonflower….

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one of my friends, immediately upon seeing it on Facebook, asked for scatter cushions.  She has a fantastic eye!  I had just been sitting there admiring it and wondering how best to use it….. and cushions are perfect!  (As are travel bag sets I suspect….)   So at some point, that is what will happen.

I often write here about my ongoing struggle to ‘maintain the balance’.  I read an online article today where it said “Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.”

I think I like this concept.  Balancing always feels a little precarious.  Dancing, however, has moments of fun, of pure joy, and of fumbled steps.  I might adopt this.

I had two random moments of joy today at the hands of my children.  The boy was playing with an electronic world globe that they got for Christmas (from grandparents who don’t have to hear it all day long…….) and started singing the national anthem.  I was quite proud of his patriotism, and knowledge of the song, until I listened a little closer and heard him singing “Avast Australia Fair”……. apparently we live in a land of pirates.  (For the non-Australian readers amongst you the correct phrase is “Advance Australia Fair”.

Then some hours later the two girls were talking about something on the computer and the eldest chick said to the middle chick “You are one little world of weird”.  Her sister (fortunately)took it as a compliment, while I sat and marvelled at the imagery one phrase from a 10 year old can elicit.

As I head off to tackle the mountain of clean laundry, and face the working and school week, I can reflect that I am still one of the lucky ones.  My sanity is reasonably present, my muse and mojo seem to be in the vicinity and my children are delightful.  Especially now that they are all asleep.

Have a great week as you work towards another fabulous weekend.

Getting my mojo back

This has been a week of personal growth and revelations. It coincided with having to miss a lot of my paid work to care for children. Could be something in that!  I should post a warning that this post contains very little about sewing (for once) and more of my self-revelation musings!!

Having time at home gave me time to clear my head a bit, to think about various aspects of my life that I tend to tuck away into the ‘when I have time’ basket, and to rediscover parts of myself. I have written before about how I have found the process of making things gives me a chance to de-stress, to focus and to work through issues in my mind. What I hadn’t really appreciated before this week is that once I start that process, I also gain in creativity.

What have I achieved this week? As I wrote earlier in the week I came up with a plan for managing my blogging more regularly. I also spent some time preparing some posts for weeks when I don’t have as much time. I looked at my Etsy shop and realised that I didn’t like the overall look and feel of it. So I did some reading on taking photos, played with my camera a bit, tried out an Etsy App for ‘fusing’ photos (and abandoned it) and then re-shot all the photos for my Etsy listings. Instead of the outdoors backgrounds I had been using,  I have gone with white. I have used the macro setting to get some close ups, and to gain different perspectives on my pieces. While I can still spot room for improvement, I am much happier with it now. (And am happy to get feedback if you have time to have a look!)

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Before and After

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Before and After

I was feeling a bit virtuous by this time, so decided to keep going. I joined some Etsy teams, and created a couple of treasuries (curated collections of other people’s listings – not my own), and enjoyed that so will try to keep it up. Then I made the decision that I am still a bit directionless with all of this, so registered to attend a Right Brain Business Plan workshop with Canberra Creatives.  The timing is perfect as it is on while the chicks are visiting their grandparents during our July school holidays.  I am hoping to create a plan and focus my energy in one direction instead of stopping to look at every bright and shiny thing that comes along!

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Hey look – better light today!

All of this made me feel a lot more connected with the business side of my creating.  Which lead to my creation of the new bag design yesterday (in my last post) and a feeling that I had ‘got my mojo back’.  Which was interesting as I wasn’t aware that I had lost it!  This is a recurring theme in my life.  I think I am happily pottering along, then something happens and I find myself being truly happy again and realise that until that point I have been slowly sinking into survival mode for a while, without realising it.  A year after my husband left me some dear friends gave me a gift with a card that read “Celebrating the becoming of Theresa”.  It was a sharp reminder that by the time my marriage ended I had lost so much of myself, and hadn’t realised it.  Although the pain and grief that came with the end of my marriage was so strong, and still lingers these years later, the rediscovery of myself and the things that make me feel happy and alive was a gift that kept me going.

A few years later, after being a full-time single parent for a couple of years, I am conscious that I have lost a bit of myself again.  Creating things, and having another focus in life seems to be a good way of keeping those bits of me sustained when everything else is getting a bit much!  So the realisation that I had lost a bit of my creative mojo, when it returned this week, was a good reminder that I need to nurture that side of my life too.  I am not quite sure how to do this yet, but am mulling over a few ideas as I sit and sew bags and match fabrics and colours, so I will see what pops out at the end!

These are the fabrics I am playing with for my next set of bags!

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I hope that your week is full of love and support – and that you are able to nurture your mojo too!