Tonight was the culmination of weeks of hard work, sweat, logistics, cursing, juggling and planning. And that was just from the parents! Tonight my eldest chick and her classmates performed in the first heat of the national Wakakirri competition. The kids did an amazing job. And more importantly the costumes looked fantastic! All those hours that I and other parents spent making them paid off. They looked professional and impressive up on stage. We won’t know for another week or so how they fared in the competition but I can certainly report that they were winners as far as we were concerned. I have no photos yet, but will share some when they are available. (It seems only fair after all my complaining about making costumes!!)
I had a nice bonus tonight too, with the middle chick joining me for a pre-show hot chocolate at a flash café. It is a rare thing to have one on one time with any of the children, so she and I enjoyed chatting and being all sophisticated and grown up together! The boy wasn’t feeling left out though – he had a ‘date’ with his favourite babysitter, and enjoyed having her all to himself for a few hours.
I have started on a new project this week. It is one that I have been putting off for months as I couldn’t work out how to tackle it. A friend (my magical housekeeper) asked me to make her a quilt using the sarong that she wore, and the shirt that her husband wore, when they were married on a beach in Fiji. Lovely in theory, but difficult in reality. The shirt is a very light cheesecloth, while the sarong is Rayon and therefore moves everytime you look at it! But on Monday I decided to bite the bullet and start. And then a wonderful thing happened. The white cloth that I pulled out to use turned out to be fusible cotton (I thought I had bought some but hadn’t been able to find it over the last few months so decided I must have been confused!). It was perfect for ironing on the back of the shirt material to give it strength and stability. That gave me the confidence to cut the rayon. I am adopting the approach that I can’t stress about bits that might be a little crooked etc, as long as the overall product works. I am using the block pattern found on the Moda BakeShop site called Salt Water Taffy. I will use white in the blocks, and then will use some grey and brown from the colours in the sarong and shirt for sashing. Fingers crossed it works, otherwise I have just cut up two special garments for no reason!!
After the excitement of the day (we were doing full hair and makeup at 7am) and night (the performance didn’t finish until 9.30pm) I am exhausted and heading for bed. Sewing will have to wait a day or two I think!!
I hope that your week is going well and that you have found pockets of excitement of your own!
This has been a busy week, with the return to school and all the extra-curricular activies (although I did discover that the middle chick’s pottery class doesn’t start until next week when I rushed to drop her off on time on Thursday! For once I was too organised!)
The biggest event of the week was the eldest chick having a gastroscopy and biopsies under a general anaesthetic on Friday. She has had this procedure before, as part of the diagnosis for coeliac disease. Last time was in the public hospital under the only surgeon in town who performs this procedure on children. She had to fast overnight for a 6.30am admission, but did not go into theatre until 2.30pm so was quite distressed. She also didn’t recover well from the anaesthetic and was very ill for some hours afterwards. This time round we had the same surgeon but as he now takes private patients, we booked into the private hospital in order to have her seen this year. Once again she fasted for a lunchtime admission….. only to arrive at the hospital and be told by the nurses that they run a book on this surgeon because he always runs a minimum of 2 hours late in arriving for his surgical lists. So instead of going into theatre at 1pm as planned she went in at 4.30. Another long day for a hungry child. To keep busy I took my crocheted afghan to work on. The upside of the delay? Quite a few more rows on it! Having busy hands really helped to keep my mind busy. I understand why knitting and crochet are so often seen in waiting rooms!
Luckily the procedure went well, the surgeon sees no signs of the condition that was being investigated, and she recovered really well from the anaesthetic with no vomiting and lots of icy poles, ice-cream and lemonade. Her mother did need to retire to the lounge with a glass or two of wine once all the chicks were in bed after such a long day! The afghan started with only the request of the middle chick to make a colourful wool blanket. I think, after 6 months of crochet at martial arts classes and in waiting rooms, that I might be ready to finish it now! Which is great as it is still freezing here, so the blanket should get lots of use on the couch keeping chicks warm for a few months!
It was good that I had those hours to crochet, as, apart from repairs to the school production costumes, little sewing happened this week! I did, however, have time to play with pictures and colours suggested by the middle chick (and originally drawn by her) which have resulted in the new banner for this page, and the facebook page and Etsy shop. I am thinking of using the little birds to make some fabric, so stand by for a splash of little bird colour in the near future!
The week of watching the boy on his new medication has been interesting. His teacher reports that she can see a difference in him at school. I have still seen no difference at home, including over the weekend when he has been as full of energy and life as usual. The up side of this is that all my fears about him losing his spirit on medication have proven to be baseless. He is still full of affection, energy, talk, and enthusiasm. He scored two tries in his Rugby game yesterday, and encouraged his team on to score quite a few more. So the world has not ended and he is behaving well at school.
This week holds the excitement of the school production at the big theatre. The eldest chick and I have purchase the required makeup (!!!) and the middle chick and I have our tickets to attend and watch. (The boy is having a ‘date’ with his favourite babysitter!) I also need to find my balance, or rhythm, again to get the crafting groove back on after all the disruption of the last few weeks. Some of the disruption is self inflicted, as I have (gulp) started dating over the last few weeks. It feels so strange to say that at my age, with three children, some grey hairs, and a few decades under my belt, but there you have it. It is early days in a new relationship so anything could happen, but when there are children involved you have to confront a whole lot of issues much earlier in a relationship than would normally occur! Taking that step out into the unknown is so much more daunting when there are three little lives connected to yours, so at the moment I am flying blind and just keeping my fingers crossed that I am doing the right thing as I take each new step. Talk about new adventures in life!! A new relationship also brings up issues from the past that I hadn’t realised were not neatly labelled, sorted, and packed away. And reminders about not repeating previous mistakes. Not getting so caught up in the excitement that important parts of life get lost, bits of self are neglected and pieces of passion are misdirected. As a result one of the aims of this week is to spend some time on the business plan, and taking some important steps to put the plan into action. Because when all is said and done, if I am not exercising my creative self, the rest of my self is so much lesser.
Right – now that the pep talk has been delivered to my self it is time to start the prep for the week ahead, to consider some order in the household chaos, and to contemplate time for dreaming. Have a great week, wherever you are, and enjoy your creative groove, however it plays out!
I don’t know about you, but I seem to have an endless collection of scraps of fabric, pieces of yarn, pattern pieces, cotton threads, pencils and tape measures that I ‘must’ keep, but that seem to take over my work space. I have tried various methods of keeping them organised, tidy and under control, with varying degrees of success. I think that my next attempt will be to make myself some lovely bright fabric baskets or buckets, so that the odds and ends look lovely, rather than chaotic! I have gathered up a collection of links to free tutorials to do just that, so thought I would share them with you as I sort through them and identify which ones I will make to address my current state of disorder!
My exciting news tonight is that I am featured on the lovely blog Janes Apple. I am used to seeing the photos of my bags and pencil holders, but somehow seeing them on someone else’s blog makes them look a bit more ‘professional’! Please go and support Sian on her blog – she puts a lot of effort into supporting and promoting Australian craftspeople and artists – and has a lovely range of cards too! I am so honoured to have been featured. It has me turning my mind to how much I enjoy reading about other crafters, and wondering whether I might also invite some to be featured here to share with you all. One for the drawing board!
I also need to say thank you to all the wonderful friends who have responded with so much support after my post about my boy on Sunday. As the week has gone on the medication is starting to take effect and his teacher is seeing a real difference in his ability to stay in the classroom and stay on task. So it looks like we are on the right path. Of course, the medication wears off mid-afternoon, so we are seeing little benefit at home, but just having him focussed at school is a huge change for us all. Most importantly, he is happy.
I have been busy sewing this week, but nothing to display of any significance. I am back to making more costumes for the school production. This time I have cut up pale blue sheets to make 16 sashes. I will hopefully finish them tonight, which will free me up to return to the things I love doing! This time next week the costumes will have been on stage and the sewing will be over! There will be a large glass of champagne at interval with my name on it I suspect!
With everything that has been happening at home I have drifted slightly from my business plan activity. However my workshop friends have continued to post their progress, so I am not losing sight of the goals, and today took delivery of the Right Brain Business planning book. Although I had downloaded it to my Kindle app, there is something about the pages of a book that makes it easier to read, feel and think about. I think it might be just the incentive to re-engage with the process that I needed.
My house is a busy one at present. I have a cousin from The Netherlands here for the night, a child having a surgical procedure under general anaesthetic on Friday, and all the usual sports and school activities. I need to find time to squeeze in some making and doing and sewing……
I hope that you are having a great week.
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!
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.
I have decided that today is a good day to make a list of the patterns for Messenger Bags that I have collected. I love messenger bags – they can be as informal and hippie, or formal and suitable for office attire as you like. It all depends on the fabric that you choose and the attitude with which you wear it! They are great as nappy (or diaper if you are American) bags, good for students, for travelling, and for carrying a large amount of ‘stuff’, if yours is anything like mine! They are good for slinging across your body when you are on your bike, or need to be hands free, and can have as many pockets as you like.
I also like the fact that a messenger bag lends itself beautifully to different forms of decoration. You can add applique, feature fabrics, and stand out linings. There are so many options!
Here is the first one I ever made, based on the great pattern by Larissa at mmmcraft. It was a birthday gift for my beautiful mother, a year ago!
This is the one that I currently use, and that often features in my photos as my ‘mascot’ when I travel!
This is one that I have currently listed in my shop, made using my own pattern (which I will one day draw up a tutorial for!! Hmmmm…. how many weeks in a row do you think I will make that promise before I actually write up the tutorial??).
And here is the list of tutorials for you to try, so that you can make a great messenger bag of your own, to reflect your own style!
This week has been quite wonderful so far. I mean that in the true sense of the word – I have wondered and marvelled at all the lovely things that have been happening around me!
On Monday I had a great day at work, including a lovely visit with my career mentor, a good session with my chiropractor (who is helping with an injury to my back/neck/shoulder so I felt much better), a visit with a lovely friend (which enabled us both to laugh uproariously at the expense of her ever-tolerant husband), a great phonecall with another friend and an impromptu visit from another. All of those events on their own would have made it a great day in my books (even if only one of them had happened!). But wait – there was more! Some pendant making kits that I had ordered from Etsy arrived, another one of my bags was on the front page of the Etsy website, and my house was clean when I got home (courtesy of my cleaner, the miracle-worker/housekeeper). Then…I received an email from Sian at Janes Apple asking if I would like to be featured on her blog! Her site is great – tips for blogging, features on Australian artists, and links to her own shop where she sells lovely fresh original cards. I feel so humble to be asked – and so excited! What a great finish to a lovely day!
In the middle of all of that, those lightbulbs from the workshop on the weekend were continuing to pop, sizzle, flicker, burn and be fed by support and ideas from my amazing friends. I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who not only allow me to get excited by the things that make me happy, but encourage me and add their ideas to the mix. I have been working on my homework from the workshop and, if I follow my action plan, I should have some new ‘products’ to share with you within the next 6 weeks or so! I don’t want to give too much away now, but the ideas are fuelled by things that I am passionate about. Part of my homework was to prepare a statement of my ‘passion and purpose’. I thought it would be hard….. but the words kept flowing!
One of my first tasks was completed tonight (and much easier than I anticipated!). This website is now officially a ‘dot.com’!!! So my address is now www.alittlebirdmademe.com. (My sister and her husband helped, so I need to give them credit!). The next step is to register for an ABN (an Australian Business Number) which makes me even more ‘business like’. I feel sooooo grown up!!
As a result of all of this activity – no sewing to show you tonight. Instead I can share the lovely prints that I have purchased for the girls’ bedrooms. They are by Kelly and Adam from Colourscape and are just beautiful quality. I highly recommend!!
These two are for the artist-in-residence as part of a set of three. Words that I hope she will take to heart as she grows. Words that are good for all of us. Dr Suess. A very wise man.
This one is for the eldest chick. I am soooo tempted to keep it for myself. It certainly says what I believe (as well as being a quote from one of my favourite bands, Mumford and Sons).
There is a new decoration on it’s way for the boy too….. nothing like these. More Star Wars, glow in the dark, green and wise….. Once it is up on the wall I will share the giant Yoda wall decal with you! He will be so excited!
I hope that your week is wonderful too. Remember to do more of what makes you happy.
So much to report this weekend!! I have spent the last two days having lightbulbs pop in my mind – such a buzz!
The Right Brain Creative Business planning course, facilitated by Mikaela Danvers from Canberra Creatives was an incredible experience. I highly recommend participating in one of these courses if you are a creative type and want to map out a plan to build, establish or develop a business. Those of us there had goals ranging from having a first sale online to building a business with a 6 figure turnover. We came from quite diverse business endeavours and yet found so many links between our visions! (I now know who to go to in order to have a logo designed, stationery designed, children’s parties catered for, items upcycled, jewellery individually designed, photographs taken, and my overall health coached!!)
There were some amazing activities throughout the day that had my brain popping with ideas, then refining them, examining them, brainstorming with the group and filtering out the gems. Just the suggestions from the group alone have given me practical ideas for streamlining my processes, outsourcing other parts, and planning new ‘lines’. I have started to build the visual depiction of the vision that I have formed through this process but it is very much a work in progress at this point. The first part of it is here – in my first ever Instagram post! (Another product of the encouragement of my fellow workshoppers!) (If you want to follow me on Instagram then you will find me at #alittlebirdmademe !!)
I have some activities that I have assigned myself for the next couple of weeks, and will be accountable to the group, so will share my progress with you as I go (without too much boring detail!) I have to do a lot of research into my market, my competitors, my aspirational point, etc. So much fun to be had!
The other lovely part of this is that I have been able to share my excitement/vision/buzz with friends and family over the last day and they have added to my knowledge banks. One with a suggestion for a new product (that is so logical I can’t believe I never thought of it!!), another with some added material and mantras to include (such a great inner circle advisor!) and my parents with wonderful encouragement to just keep playing with the ideas and enjoying the journey. One of the biggest benefits in this process, and some other activities over the last week, has been a journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation. Being reminded of my strengths, my unique values and what makes me stand out from the crowd has been a joyous journey.
One of my discoveries that I am adopting as an affirmation is that being ‘quirky’ is a compliment. Standing out for being ‘different’ is a gift, not a burden to be carried, in this case. I am happily embracing my quirkiness and celebrating my differences – these are the things that will help me stand out from others in identifying my perfect customer and my marketing strategies.
Phew! After all the brainstorming and excitement of yesterday, followed by dinner, lunch and then afternoon tea with friends to allow for de-briefing, no sewing occurred. And that is okay. However I do have a photo of a bag I finished a few days ago to share with you. This one, and the Dr Who bag are both in the shop now.
Now to start the work week, do my homework from the course, start on my action plan, fit in a bit of sewing and then drive down to the farm (6 hours away) to collect the chicks and bring them back. Feeling so invigorated and inspired and happily quirky, the week is sure to be great! I hope that your week is full of inspiration and is appropriately quirky.
I have realised that if I am going to post a list of the links I have found, I should probably call them something! So here is the beginning of “Friday Finds”!! Tonight I thought I would go back to bags. Mainly because I keep finding more that I am inspired by, and that I want to make! Today’s list will be market or shopping bags. Where I live in Canberra shops are not allowed to provide free plastic bags for our shopping. We either pay between 10 and 15 cents per bag, or we carrying our own bags. I love my shopping bags. They are bright and bold and make grocery shopping a treat for the eye. But they are starting to wear out. My plan (along with all those other plans on my ever growing ‘to do’ list) is to make some new ones for myself and use fabrics that make me happy. (That will counteract the sometimes excruciating nature of grocery shopping with 3 chicks in tow!!) And that means that, without further ado, I present a list of links to free patterns for market bags that I have collected for this very purpose!
Ah…..the weekend is here! This week seems to have flown by in some respects, and dawdled in others! But on a Friday night, slipping into comfortable clothes, listening to my music without complaints from the children about my singing (heathens that they are) and contemplating which of my collected links I will share with you, I have to say that I do love weekends! Two days of ‘free’ time spreading out before me! Ah the joy!
Before I start on my collection for tonight I thought I would share with you my preparation for the Right Brain business planning course that I am doing tomorrow. (The details are in the link so I am just going to share my thoughts on it here rather than try to explain it!!) I needed to ask some people who I trust for three words that describe me, and three words that describe my ‘business’. So I duly sent off an email to a small selection of my trusted friends and family. (And recognised how lucky I am that the list is so long that I had choices to make!) The answers have been intriguing to read. None have been confronting, but some have provoked thought, which is a great start to creating a plan!
I am also meant to be gathering visual aids to help me visualise what I want to do with my business. Hmmmm….. I keep seeing a lot of white in my minds eye for this one. Not so much ‘nothing’ as a lot of clean and empty surfaces. So I started to chat to friends and colleagues, and slowly over the course of the day I have started to add some colour to the white. I don’t have the actual images yet but by the time I get to the course I think I will have some good ideas to add to my visual aids.
I have started to do the ‘dreaming’ part of visualising… you know – what if I could do anything I want? What would my business look like? That part is fun – imagining colours, people, products, spaces, marketing……
As tomorrow and the start of the course draws nearer I am getting a bit excited. A whole day to dedicate to thinking about me and my business. What luxury! (I have also been practising saying ‘my business’ so that I start to think of it this way instead of just ‘my sewing’!!)
Other things that have spurred on my excitement over the last 24 hours have included one of my bags featuring on the front page of Etsy, and one of my treasuries featuring! (Oh – and I worked out how to take screen shots!)
While writing this I have decided to break with my usual convention, and will add my Friday night finds in a separate post, so that this one can just be my musings at the end of the week and on the brink of a new adventure.
This means that I can share with you that I finished a couple of the bags that I started earlier in the week. I haven’t taken the ‘shop’ photos with great daylight yet (the perils of working in an office during winter – dark in the morning and dark at night!) but if you will forgive the use of flash, here are some images of the Dr Who bag completed!
I can also share that the chicks are having a ball on their grandparent’s farm. Yesterday they went up to the snow and went tobogganing. They have been fishing, playing in the mud, helping with the animals, and generally having a great time. The middle chick has conceived a plan to build an incubator to hatch some duck eggs from her aunt’s farm. I think I have dissuaded her for now (given that we don’t live on a farm and already have 5 chickens!) but I love her enthusiasm and the fact that she had researched how to do it before calling to ask me. The eldest chick has called a lot, just to check in and say hi. So grown up and so gorgeous. The boy has been very busy and reluctant to stop his activities to talk on the phone, but when he does he asks “How have you been Mum?”. Just delightful from a 6 year old! I do miss them, but know that I need this time.
For those of you who read my post a few weeks ago about questioning my judgement as a parent I can share that the professionals agreed with me that that particular diagnosis didn’t fit my chick. The paediatrician then suggested that we explore another diagnosis and the school and I again completed screening questionnaires. This time round we were both on the same page. So it appears that we are getting closer to have answers about how to support my chick. Any sort of medical diagnosis that will affect your child for the rest of their life is a bit confronting. I, and my ex-husband, are focussing on the fact that we now know what the issue is, and what the treatment/strategy/plan will look like. And hopefully by identifying it so early in a young life we will be able to build strategies to get through life better than a later diagnosis. There are silver linings. And of course, I get to breathe a sigh of relief that I do have decent judgement when it comes to my children!
Have a great weekend! I hope that you get some time to yourself, to focus on you and what you want to plan in your life, whatever it might be!