Tag Archives: Geocaching

7 Free things to do in Canberra over the Spring school holidays

Our two weeks of school holidays start today!  The children definitely need the break, and their mother isn’t complaining either!  While we have a camping trip planned for the second week of the holidays, for the first week I thought we might explore a bit more of the city we live in, rather than sitting at home with eyes glued to screens.  (Wish me luck!)

There are some amazing classes, programs, and activities available during the holidays, and my children have a long wish list.  However money is a little tight, and I realised that it was probably time for us to craft a list that focussed on things that don’t cost a lot of money, but will be really enjoyable.

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

1.  Floriade.  Yep – it may be clichéd but the huge floral displays are open throughout the holidays, are free to enter, and provide lots of different opportunities for being involved.  There is a different program of activities every day.  The tips I gained from head gardener, Andrew Forster, were to check the program first thing each morning before planning your day.  There are great things in the ‘Fun for Kids‘ section, including potting their own plants, attending Bunnings workshops, a circus playground with workshops, and more!    (And Bindi Irwin will be at the inspiration hub giving talks one day.) If all else fails, take a picnic and let the kids run around on the big grassed areas.

2. Arboretum.  The national collection of plants is free to enter, and roam around.  In addition to the wonderful wooden pod playground, there are also open spaces for picnics and running around, and amazing photographic opportunities.  There is a free creative corner during these holidays, plus a program of workshops ranging in prices from $10 – $30.  My personal plan is to pack some food and take the kids there with their cameras/iPods etc and run a family photo competition.  If it works I will publish their entries here for you to enjoy!

National Archives of Australia |a little bird made me

3. National Archives of Australia.  You might remember that I enjoyed a tour of the National Archives as part of the discovery phase of the Human Brochure.  I have been wanting to take the children there ever since, and with the opening of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize this week, the timing is perfect!  Entry to the archives is free, and there is a great range of exhibitions that I think my children will enjoy exploring – including one of ‘banned’ material that I think will appeal to my son!!

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

4. National Gallery Sculpture Gardens.  I suspect that taking my active children (well, let’s be honest, my son) into the Gallery could be a recipe for stress, but I think that exploring the Sculpture Gardens, with reflective sculptures, floating heads, and my favourite, the James Turrell installation “Within Without’, could be much less stressful!  I might even include that in our family photo competition!

5. Geocaching.  We have been a little slack in our geocaching for about a year (oops) but the upside of that is that there will be lots of new caches around town that we haven’t discovered.  If you aren’t aware of geocaching it involves looking for hidden caches/containers that contain a log book, and occasionally swap-able  or track-able items, using GPS coordinates.  You can download a free version of the app to your phone, or use the GPS from your car (or go really rustic and use a compass!) and search for different caches hidden in public spaces, and logged on a website so that others can look for them.  I like to pick a geographic area, park the car and then go for a walk with the kids to find as many as we can before someone gets tired and complains!

6. National Museum of Australia.  The museum is always great for an interactive experience with kids, and these holidays they are running free drop in workshops in their Discovery Space, including one where you can make your own wire sculpture.  (Wonder if the kids will realise that I am there to do it for me, rather than to entertain them?!)

7. National Library of Australia.  On 2 October the Library has a story time session and a movie for children, both of which are free.  But the thing that appeals to me for my children is the Library detective – a free ‘find it’ trail of discovery.

Handmade Markets | a little bird made me

Plus one more.  Handmade Markets.  Entry to these amazing markets (no I am not at all biased) is free!  Of course it won’t end up being truly free as the temptation to buy so many of the beautiful products there is hard to resist, so I haven’t included it in my list of 7 – but wanted to remind you that it is a great day out!  4 and 5 October at the National Convention Centre!  (I won’t have a stall there but will be there helping out anyway!)

There are many more things to do in Canberra over the holidays, but this list will keep us going I think!  What ideas do you have for free activities these holidays?

A taste of Spring

I realise that writing about the weather can be the equivalent of watching paint dry but I really do have to celebrate the delightful weather we have had for the last two days! After a winter that has been long, gloomy and icy, the last two days have felt like a harbinger of Spring. The sun has been out, the sky has been blue, and we have all been able to be outside with less layers of clothing on! I am considering getting the hammock out, thinking about finally planting my front garden, and imagining a camping trip to the coast. Of course, this is just a teaser – the real spring is still weeks away, but just a taste of it is so delightful it has to be celebrated!

The nest has been a busy place for the last few days. Last night I attended a Gala Ball connected to celebrations with the children’s school. This of course necessitated a trip to the hairdresser, during which the artist in residence (who has the straightest glossy hair) convinced the hairdresser to give her curls…. what a sight! Because I try to protect the chicks from full face photos on the web I won’t put up a shot tonight – but she loved it so much she has convinced me to buy a curling wand so that she can have curls again – so we will try for a shot of just the hair very soon!  (Nothing quite like an 8 year old who knows her own mind when it comes to fashion!)

The hairdresser did a great job with my hair – and even added a subtle touch of glitter as a giggle! I had my new dress, the obligatory high strappy shoes, and an extremely debonair partner in his bow tie and black suit. But do you think I managed to remember to get even one photo? Nope. So you will have to take my word for it that I looked glamorous! It was a lovely night with great friends, good music etc. My date coped very well with meeting a table full of strangers, and I had a number of compliments from friends about how handsome he is!!  Luckily several of them also noted that he seems to be a lovely person!

Before starting on the path to being glamorous, we had the children’s sport yesterday. All three chicks played really well in their games of rugby and hockey respectively, but I do need to share a photo of the middle chick being goalie in the hockey game. She is quite petite, so the shin pads covered her thighs! She managed to stop quite a few balls going into the goal, and enjoyed playing the position, so may do it again next week. If it keeps going I might need to look for a better fitting kit!

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I have also had a lovely weekend with a couple of my items making the front page of the Etsy website.  I missed seeing the first one, which appeared in this treasury

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Then the same pillowcase was on the front page again today

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And then tonight one of my bags was on!

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Then, while I was writing this post, that pillowcase popped up again on the front page!!

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How have I managed to get such great coverage?  I am part of the Australian Wandarrah Team, a team on Etsy representing Australian sellers. One of the things that the team does is to take turns at promoting each other’s items.  We put together treasuries, featuring items from fellow team members’ shops, and comment and ‘favourite’ each others treasuries.  These treasuries are then available for selection for the front page.  It is a great way to get to see the talents of other artists, to support each other, and to have some fun.  So if you are an Etsy seller I encourage you to join an active team and form a network!  If you are not, I encourage you to look for items tagged as being from the Wandarrah Team when you are browsing Etsy, as there are a huge number of very talented Australian artists who belong to the team.

As for sewing?  Not a lot in the last few days.  I have spent most of today tackling some of the long term household tasks – sorting piles of paper into new piles, sorting toys into keeping and non-keeping piles, and doing the same with some bookshelves to make way for new books.  Not very exciting, but quite satisfying in it’s own way!  Once the house is a bit more tidy and organised I can return to sewing with gusto, knowing that I am sort of on top of things in the house!  And I do need to sew – I have a number of orders for superhero capes coming in – and so far the majority of them are for girls.  I am enjoying the continuation of that trend.

As for geocaching?  Not so good!  We picked one up on Wednesday night on the way home from school, then on Thursday and Friday completely forgot to do it!!  Although we discussed picking up some caches this weekend, we didn’t actually get to it…… so the drive of last weekend was a bit short-lived!  However, all is not lost.  The children have found a place that they think is appropriate to release a cache and are busy planning how we will do it.  They took the dog for a walk this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time scoping out their chosen site.  I am very impressed with their ideas!

The week ahead ‘should’ provide time for a bit of sewing.  I haven’t quite finished the quilt top, so want to get to that.  I also want to make a bag to donate to an annual function at my work where we raise money for Medecins san Frontieres.  And of course it is time to  look at costume repairs, one new costume, and any last minute changes before the big performance in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime I am off to continue tidying up this house while I am on a roll!

Wishing you a week of Spring weather and time to do things that are important to you!

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Getting down to it

Very exciting news in the nest with the announcement that the eldest chick and her classmates have made the finals in the Wakakirri competition! This little bird is (not-so) secretly pleased that all those costumes get another outing! We will be off to the theatre again on 26 August for the regional finals. I am so proud!!

I am also pleased to report that I am achieving my crafting goals for the week quite well! I have made a super-hero cape for a little girl called Emily,

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a bag with matching zip pouch to donate to the auction at the ball I am attending on the weekend,

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a pencil roll as a separate donation to the same auction,

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and have almost completed the sashing on the memory quilt top!

I also managed to get another three rows on the crocheted afghan while watching the martial arts class last night. Feeling quite satisfied with my efforts!

In the midst of all my planning and thinking I have missed doing what I love doing – making! I have a few other orders to fill now, and am looking forward to making them.

Having a good week has also given me time to reflect a bit. Over the years, through trials and tribulations, my girlfriends have supported me, picked me up, given me perspective, told me not to be melodramatic, and generally kept me going. I am so lucky! So many people ask me ‘how do you do it’ – work, parent three children, etc, without any family support in town. Apart from the answer that my parents give me a huge amount of support even though they aren’t local, I am always able to say that I have amazing friends. They keep me going. Celebrate the highs, and prop me up during the lows. This week a couple of those amazing women had to face their own challenges. I felt so helpless, being able to do little except try to make one laugh, and offer food for another. Then I remembered the times that my friends have done just that for me. Talked to me about inane things to keep my mind occupied. Did airport runs to pick up or drop off people. Dropped in with a bottle of wine. And I realised that to be a good friend you don’t always have to do BIG things. Just being there, in the quiet times when you need another voice on the end of a phone, or to email you a silly story, or to drop in and say hi. Those are the things that make us friends rather than acquaintances. The things that keep us going. So to my girlfriends – thank you. Please know that I will always be there to help prop you up, to drink wine when required, and to make you laugh (either at yourself, or at me) to keep you going. Because what goes around comes around.

I can also report that we have maintained our ‘cache a day’ target. Despite rain and late work days!  The kids are committed too, so we are having fun!

Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to celebrate the people in your life who are your true friends.

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 (!!!).

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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!!)

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.

Return from Easter

I am back!

Back from a week of no computer, no responsibility, no children and no routine.  Back from an unintended break from blogging, sewing, crafting, and cooking.  Back from a fuzzy head – almost.

So – where have I been?  As promised/predicted/threatened I went on a road trip to Byron Bay to attend Bluesfest – a five day festival of music based loosely on a celebration of blues and roots music.  In reality there is probably more non-blues music than blues – but no one cares.  The countryside around Byron Bay is spectacular, the weather is temperamental, and the lifestyle is very relaxed.  The people who attend Bluesfest provide a lovely cross section of society – ranging from older retirees in their neatly ironed shorts and shirts through to the barefooted, dreadlock wearing hippies, with everyone in between.  I reckon I fall right in the middle of the range – and I am okay with that!  I did get good wear out of my two Tova tunics – and actually remembered to get a photo of myself in one!  (My photographer went a bit crazy….. and I am pulling a face in most but there are a couple that show the shirt….)

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Camping on site at the festival is part of the fun – you get to know neighbours, compare which bands you have seen or want to see, and share the joy in finding a clean toilet, stocked with paper…..  and compare gumboot styles as the rain hits and causes mud that has to be squelched through to be believed.

So did I enjoy it?  For the most part – yes.  Driving there and back on my own was tiring (it is about a 15 hour drive including breaks) and affected my enjoyment (I slept early on the first night and missed seeing Chris Isaak, which I regret).  On the way there I stopped and camped overnight on my own – and enjoyed the experience.  On the way home I pushed through and did the trip in one day – not as enjoyable.  I did find that looking for geocaches was a good way to break up the trip, so will be doing that again.

My ‘campanion’ (pun intended) was suffering from ‘man-flu’ and ended up leaving on the fourth day.  The rain was depressing and meant that there was mud and hot steamy crowds…..  so I found parts of it quite challenging.  There was a moment on Sunday night when I put myself to bed early and lay in the tent listening to the rain, and the sounds of a Ska band blaring through the rain, when I wondered what on earth I was doing there – and whether I really needed a life lesson in coping with anxiety and depression right at this point in time.  But – the next day the sun was out, I ended up having a nice day on my own and I got to hear/see Paul Simon singing, which moved me much more than I expected, and it all seemed worth it.

Highlights?  Meeting some lovely new friends in the campground, finally seeing Ben Harper in concert, seeing Robert Plant and Paul Simon, and Busby Marou, discovering new music through the band Current Swell, and hearing other legends like the Counting Crows, the Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, and a plethora of great blues artists.  And going into Brunswick Heads for a swim in the ocean.  Such a simple treat!

So now I am home, and back to the challenges of life as a single parent.  By yesterday afternoon I was completely overwhelmed – yet another meeting with teachers at school about my son, making new childcare arrangements after the babysitter’s timetable changed, trying to think about groceries, homework, housework, gardening, paying bills, caring for animals……..etc.  So I went to bed, convinced that I was getting sick.  This morning I felt dreadful but got up and went to work, and then to an early morning chiropractor appointment.  I quickly realised that in fact I wasn’t sick, or overwhelmed.   I was in pain.  Once I was ‘adjusted’ properly the world seemed quite decent again – and all the little bits and pieces that had been threatening to pull me under last night were quite manageable again.  A good lesson in being aware of the impact of pain on my mental and physical wellbeing!  (and a good reminder that dancing in gumboots, driving long distances, getting tumbled in the surf and sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a week aren’t good for my back…….)

My mum will go home on Saturday after her epic effort in looking after my children, then in a week the children go on holiday to visit their father.  So my mind is slowly starting to turn back towards creative thoughts.  Some bags, some patchwork, a kindle cover or two……  my sewing fingers are getting itchy…..!

Lessons learnt?  Keep things simple, enjoy the moment, and don’t forget to dance.

A decade of love

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

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

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

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

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She promptly put her ipod straight into it.

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

 

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

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

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

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

Lessons learnt

I am laughing at myself right now. In my last post I was apologising a bit for sewing things that weren’t on my February “To Do” list – but in fact everything that I sewed WAS on the list! I was looking at the list written on a scrap of paper at home, and not the one I publicly shared! So in fact I am doing really well at addressing my list right now!!

I also answered my own question of ‘to-crochet-or-not-to-crochet’ on the pillowcases I made – if I had to ask, then the answer was ‘no’. My wise friend Jo pointed out that there is something about bunting and crochet that doesn’t work – neither of us know why but we both agree on that point! So I listed them in my shop today, after taking photos in the lovely sun – and a friend snapped them up straight away! So I might need to make some more.

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Finally I am laughing at myself for forgetting the very simple rule – people read blogs. So some of my staff knew why I was at work having a chat, before I had told them in person, and one of the lovely teachers at my children’s school, who also loves fabric, was very tempted to call me after I announced that I should get stuff done, if only the school didn’t ring….. Good lessons to learn with no damage done and much laughter.

I have been sitting and admiring my delicious stash of fabric a bit, and was inspired to make this up during the week. Again, it has been snapped up, so I will make more using this lovely blue paisley.

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As I gear up to return to the office on Monday I am trying very hard to maintain my carefully won balance and not feel that I have to frantically sew to get things done before Monday – and it is working. Last night I had a lovely evening with a friend, some great Asian takeaway, and decadent ice-cream. When the power went out due to a storm we just turned on a torch and kept giggling and sharing. No sewing to be seen!

I had a list of things to be done this weekend – including three presents for my children to give to their friends at parties they are attending. In my mind I was planning to sew each gift, but this morning I sensibly went shopping and bought small gifts. The artist in residence was attending her best friend’s birthday party and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to make something for this little person who has a special place in our life – but we fixed that when we realised that a bird softie that my daughter had been making would make a perfect gift to accompany the purchased gift. So a very special handmade gift was delivered instead.

Having found some time to attend to other things (like housework) I then sat down and whipped up two simple pencil rolls (making up my own pattern) for the party that the boy is attending tomorrow (for two classmates), to accompany the small gifts I bought. I am quite happy with them and think that I will make some more for the shop.

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I also unpicked and altered a gift for my friend who has a special birthday tomorrow – and am now much happier with it. Taking time to do it right instead of just ‘okay’ feels good.

The return to work is a little daunting because, since my last post, it has been confirmed that I will take on a new role, beginning on Monday. I have also discussed my wish to work different hours, subject to finalising my before-school care arrangements, and they are supported. So the idea of a new position, which involves leading a service delivery area (something I haven’t done before) is exciting but also challenging. The idea of starting work early each day and then finishing at 3 in order to collect the children from school in person is wonderful, but I am apprehensive about finding the balance at work. All in all, I am sure that once I am there and have moved into my new office and remembered all my passwords etc I will be fine – but the anticipation of new things does have me thinking about work a bit more than normal!

Of course while I was in the office I managed to talk to one of my colleagues about a bag that she wanted…..and then came home and made it. Although it fits the description of what she asked for I am not happy with it yet, so think that it might be the next thing to be unpicked and re-shaped – the flap isn’t sitting quite where I want it to and the bag is a bit deeper than I think it should be. Back to the drawing board!

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Finally, an amusing sight while the kids and I stopped to find a geocache on our way home this evening. To find it we had to pass an administration office, and in the window, on the side of a tissue box, was this sticker, that the children loved!

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I am not sure if you can read the sticker, but apart from making it clear that this is a geocaching friendly environment, the small print says “Where else can you use billion dollar satellites to find plastic containers in the bush?”

I hope that any lessons that you have learnt this week are positive!
(My other lesson is to post more regularly so that my posts aren’t this long!!)

New ideas

Balance has returned to the nest since my last post.  We have been out and about, and while chores were achieved, so were fun activities.  More of that later.  I have also managed a bit of sewing, and as a bonus, have been able to organise my sewing gear a bit more too!  A lovely new box from Spotlight has room for all the ‘things’ I was throwing in a basket – and then digging through every few minutes, creating tangles of hook and loop fastener, thread, offcuts of interfacing, etc.

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I received such lovely support following my post – both here and privately.  Thank you – your words do make a difference!

On the sewing front I have been beavering away at my ‘to do’ list – making more bags and constantly exploring new ideas.  A lovely friend (and one of my best customers so far) asked me to make a bag for her sister – a new Mum, in Ireland, with a 30th birthday.  I started thinking about when I was a new mum and finding that balance between being completely focussed on my child but also trying to retain my grown up separate identity, (in a midst of bags covered in ducks and toys etc) and decided that she needed a bag that looked good, but was also useful to carry ‘mum stuff’.  So I sat down and designed a new bag!  The photos are a bit ordinary due to rain outside meaning flash lighting inside…but you get the general idea.  I put a slip pocket on the outside, 6 slip pockets on the inside, and a zipped pocket.  I am thinking of it as a Tardis – average on the outside and enormous on the inside!  Now to play with different colour combinations!  (And different pocket combinations/arrangements.)

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It also gave me a chance to play with some new fabric that arrived here on Friday morning!  My fabric addiction is well and truly being fed at the moment.  The ideas and possibilities that come with new fabric are delightful.  The deliciousness of the prints for children have me thinking of skirts, pillowcases, art wallets, bags and more!  The prints that aren’t specifically designed for children lend themselves to all of those and more.  My brain is ticking away busily, creating and re-creating ideas and combinations.  So much fun!

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Of course, because, as I have now confessed, I am good at creating my own pressure, I want to be using it all instantly!  However I am just remembering to breathe, to enjoy the other aspects of my life, and to enjoy the dreaming, because, lets face it, the dreaming is often better than the reality!!

The children and I have been doing all sorts of things now that the cranky mum has gone away again!  We have geocached (and found some nifty hides)

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had a trip to the zoo (which we plan to be the first of many),

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played board games (‘Carcassonne’ is our current favourite),  baked (from great heights!),

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spent time with friends, and talked.  I have even managed to start the seasonal cupboard clean out!

I am also enjoying doing a bit of researching into camping gear.  I have a camping trailer, that I love, and which is now set up just the way I like it, so I don’t need any more gear for it.  (I can’t believe I actually said that, but it is true!)  However, my mistake for the Easter booking means that my friend K and I can’t take the trailer with us when we travel (sans children) to Bluesfest at Byron Bay.  In order to overcome my frustration with myself I am immersing myself in research into the best tent for the best price for us to take instead.  (We have been offered tents to borrow, which would be the sensible option, but that isn’t half as much fun as researching accessories for my favourite sort of getaway!)  K and I keep having phone calls and text messages where we share our latest find, and then talk ourselves into the sensible borrowing option, and then share the next find!  We are as bad as each other!  Having been friends since we were 11, it probably makes sense that we operate in a similar way.

While I start to think about getting organised for the return to school and work, and rearranging my work life so that I can continue to provide my children with the level of support that they need at the moment I am trying to continue planning for other fun activities for them.  So, with the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show coming up soon, I have asked the girls if they would like to enter the baking competition run for under 12s.  They are very excited at the prospect and are already planning their gluten-free entries for the general entry section!  They were disappointed that they can’t enter the sewing section as entries closed two months ago, but I pointed out that two months ago neither of them knew how to use a sewing machine, so a bit more practise before next year would stand them in good stead!  I love seeing the benefit of having been able to spend all this time at home with them. I am realistic that I can’t financially sustain that as a lifestyle for us long-term (apparently it is the law to clothe, feed and house them) but am certainly working on coming up with a work arrangement that will allow me more time with them after school than we have been able to manage for the last year or so.

While I am itching to be creating, I know that doing all of this other ‘stuff’ is good for me too!

I hope that you are all managing to do the things that make you happy.

Simple things

As the weekend is drawing to a close I have been reflecting that we hadn’t done much of note. Then I reflected a bit further and realised that we had actually achieved a number of things over the weekend, and that they were worth noting! I was trying to work out why I thought we hadn’t done much, and then realised that for the main, the things that were the most important to me are in fact very simple things.

Over the last week, with a combination of very hot weather, very tired children and some background stress from our friend’s emergency I have been letting the children have much more screen time that I would usually. Yesterday morning, after the children’s swimming lesson, I was negotiating once again with the boy and the eldest chick about who could access the computer and who could play on the Wii when it struck me that I had lost control of the house! So I promptly announced that all screens were off for at least two hours, but probably longer. After the initial 2 minutes of complaining, and the boy trying to trick me into letting him on a screen 5 minutes later, they all went off and found things to do.

The boy set up a very complex Lego scenario in his room, which involved lots of instructions from him to ‘his men’.

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The he built a “Millenium Falcon” and told me that it was built to look after me, as it was made with his love in it. Oh my boy – he is so sweet despite his amazing energy levels.

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The eldest chick also started building with Lego, and after repairing her Knight’s Bus, took a shoe box, some tissues and a pile of Lego figures and was playing her own quiet but apparently very complex game.

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The middle chick decided that she needed to create (hence me referring to her as my artist in residence – it is almost a compulsion!). She drew another bird, based on the one she drew for me to use on my packaging tags (in my last post) and decided that she wanted to make it into a stuffed toy. So with some instruction from me on the order of things, she did!

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Such simple things, but all of them were using their imaginations, which is the true joy in these activities.

In the afternoon when they were getting ratty I put them all in the car and we went and found 4 new geocaches. They loved it! The boy had to be hoisted by his mother to reach one tiny micro-cache, which he was thrilled by. Another cache was disguised as a piece of chewed gum stuck under a table (ewwwwww!) and another was a multiple hide, involving us bashing around in the bush, finally finding a panel in the grass to lift, then in the dirt another panel to lift before we finally found the cache. Again the kids were so intrigued by the sneaky hide that the time in the bushes, worrying about snakes etc, was worth it! One cache defeated us, so we will have to return another time and try again.

This morning, with no swimming lessons, we all slept in – another simple thing that gave me great joy!!

After a cup of tea with a beautiful friend, I had the afternoon to myself while the children were out with their father, so I played with my new toy. I haven’t found a name for the sewing machine yet, but one will come, I am sure! It is such a joy to sew with! Blanket stitch for applique is so neat and smooth!

So I made a new super hero cape for a friend’s son. The applique was so smooth I added a few more stars….. just because I could!

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I also finished the present I am making for the eldest chick and am very happy with the way it turned out. Photos will of course follow once her birthday has passed!

My next simple joy was the bowl of delicious Thai-style sweet potato soup with chicken that a lovely friend had dropped off to me earlier in the day. The colour alone was joyous and then I tasted it – mmmmm mmmmmm.

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A walk with the dog around the block, seeing cockatoos, parrots and galahs, and returning home to watch the chooks scratching around in the garden (they get to free range each evening while the dog has some ‘inside time’.)

Simple things but lovely things.

I then started to complicate things by dreaming of creating my own fabric to make ‘things’ from, planning toys that I could make, fabric labels……and started playing on our paint editing software……so now both the eldest and middle chicks are busy trying to get in on the action, with great ideas of what they will design and then have me make things from…….ah well, technology had to intervene sometime!

So – how was your weekend? Happy I hope!