Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A day in the mountains

Yesterday, the girls and I drove to Mt Tamborine to meet up with an old uni friend of mine who now lives in Malaysia. She was visiting her family with her little girl so it was a great chance to catch up. It took us an hour and a half to drive up to the far side of the mountain (we had to stop once or twice for extra directions) but it was worth it. Apart from the gorgeous views and fresh air, the little townships are very picturesque with lovely gardens and the road up the mountain is lined with lush rainforest and towering trees. We arrived at the B & B where our friends were and the girls had a lovely time running about with their new pals and feeding bread and carrots to the miniature ponies. Just blissful for my city children and lovely for me to catch up with my friend.

After admiring the view and ponies and eating lunch, we set off to do a rainforest walk. I went bushwalking a lot with my family as a child and have felt very neglectful not doing it with my children. The spot we visited had a high steel pathway above the trees so it was a great way to admire the rainforest. Then we arrived on terra firma and enjoyed walking past the ferns, giant trees and vines and various fauna and flora. The girls saw a snake and also a little bush turkey rummaging on the forest floor. It was lovely to be out of the city and enjoying the bush.

I think we'll have to take Scott back for a relaxing weekend.

Monday, December 21, 2009

more sewing!

It's been a big week sewing wise. I finally made the Lazy Days skirt that I first saw on Tammie's blog. This one was for my big girl, seen giving her new skirt a twirl in the above photo. I fell in love with this green ladybird material months ago when I was buying patchwork material for baby quilts. I thought it would make a pretty skirt so I bought some elastic and some red ribbon for when I was feeling confident enough to make it. After rereading the instructions several times and emailing Tammie for extra advice, I took the plunge on Sunday afternoon when Scott took the girls to his mum's place. It was easy peasy! And the first skirt (or any item of clothing for that matter) that I have made since Grade 8 Home Economics in 1978. Which I hated by the way.
Here's a close up of the material as from a distance it looks like large red spots. I have some matching blue material with ladybirds and daisies to make a skirt for my little girl. I want to get some yellow ribbon for the edge and don't know how I will face traipsing back to the shops before Christmas to buy it. I have to drive through about 5 suburbs for goodness sake just to buy ribbon. The local shopping centre is HUGE with a zillion upmarket shops but no ribbon!

Next exhibit is me (looking a wee bit grim but just wondering whether my girl could fit both the quilt and me into the camera viewfinder) with the quilt I made in the beginners' quilting class I took for six Saturday mornings. The pattern is called "Rail Fence" or something similar and it is apparently a perfect beginner's quilt as it is very "forgiving" (ie doesn't matter if your seams don't match up perfectly". Thanks to the patient women at Quilt Essentials for all your help.

I had to put this photo in of the back of the quilt as my big girl chose the material for the back. I didn't think it would go with the colours I wanted on the front so I said we could put it on the back and now I really love it. I'm ready to make a quilt for both girls (E wants blues and golds and horses and stars and G wants a "rainbow" quilt) and one for the special baby arriving in our family in April. I guess I'll have to keep neglecting the housework!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trying to live in the moment

(G tries out the new headphones but doesn't worry
about plugging them in anywhere!)

I've been rereading a great book this week called "Buddhism for Mothers" by Sarah Napthali. (Sorry.....I'm too tired to organise a link but I'm sure you can google it if necessary). It helped me a lot when I was struggling with motherhood the first time around and it's been packed in a box for a couple of years and stored in my sister's garage. Funnily enough, I managed a quick child free browse in a book store this week and saw she has written another one along the same lines called "Buddhism for Mothers with Young Children". has such great stuff in it about the Buddhist approach to life and how you can apply their philosophies and way of thinking to coping with parenthood - a whole chapter on anger management (I very very rarely lost my temper before motherhood but now sometimes have a short fuse) and lots of stuff about living in the moment. It has helped me slow down lately and this morning when I walked to the train for work I thought to myself (like a buddhist monk according to this book) "I am walking. I am walking". Then I thought about feeling the cool morning air (it was 6.30am) and the warm morning sun (it's summer here) on my skin at the same time and about all the noises I could hear. It was so much nicer than rushing madly and worrying about missing my train. As if anyone really cares (or actually knows) whether I am at my desk by 7.30am or not. Still...I do have 7 and a quarter hours to do twice a week and I do have to rush out at 3.15 pm to collect the girls).

Usually, bedtime here is a bit of a farce and Scott and I struggle to stay patient. We usually don't eat dinner until the girls are asleep and so sometimes we aren't eating until almost 9pm. My little girl is particularly crazy and somehow does not have the idea of bedtime routines through her pretty little head despite the same routine for the last 2 years or so. Tonight, I relaxed the rules a little bit, we let them stay up late while we ate our Friday night nachos cooked by Scott, and then G fell asleep lying on me in her big bed as usual. Sometimes I lie there and grit my teeth and take deep breaths trying to be patient until she falls asleep and then I gently roll her off me and go and do my own thing or tidy up or whatever. But tonight...I just lay there for ages after she fell asleep and enjoyed the sweet weight of her on me and the sweaty but yummy baby smell of her head. I listened to another song or two on the lullaby cd and then came out to do my own thing (ie check some blogs).

Scott took this photo of me doing my big girl's hair for school this week (her last week of Grade 1). It's not the world's most attractive picture of me but I like that it captured an ordinary moment in our lives. It shows our living room in all its lived in glory - the books overflowing on the shelves, the toys on the rug, the discarded nightie on the couch with its daggy blue cover. I feel like it's time to edit my life a bit less, go with the flow, and maybe stop dyeing my hair and let it go whatever colour it is (ie half dark, half grey). I don't feel like having fake hair anymore. I brave enough to be real? I'm not sure I'm ready to look middle-aged yet so I have to work up a bit more courage. (Scott is all in favour of me going a la naturel).

I've also been thinking a lot about Jen, from the Comfy Place, who passed away from cancer a week or so ago. Her ex-partner has taken over her blog and, like Jen, he is pretty amazing. Jen had an incredible knack for finding the positive in the midst of facing a premature death and leaving her two much loved children. She was really an inspiration to me so this post is dedicated to you Jen. You have really helped me get some much needed perspective on this life. Thank you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

babies and quilts

There's been a bit of drought of babies in my life the last few years, but suddenly there are beautiful babies appearing all over the place. Part of my motivation for learning to quilt was so that I could start making baby quilts.

My big girl has had a fantastic year in Grade 1, mostly due to her lovely teacher. So when Mrs C announced she was leaving at the end of the year to have a baby, I thought it was the perfect time for another baby quilt to be made. I secretly told the children in the class that I was making a rainbow quilt (with help from my girl) and took the squares of material in to show them while we made Mrs C wait outside the classroom. All the children managed to keep it a secret right up until we gave the teacher the quilt on Wednesday, although one little scallywag of a boy kept threatening to give the game away. Mrs C loved her quilt and here she is holding it up. I edited her out of the photo though for privacy reasons. (Not sure that she wants to appear in my blog!)

I was originally going to try and get the children to write their names on baking paper and trace them on to the quilt and embroider over them so that they would be part of the quilt making process. But time was running out so instead, I gave them all a square of white cardboard and asked them to draw a picture for Mrs C - maybe of themselves, Mrs C, her baby or a quilt. I was stunned at the beautiful artworks they produced. They really love this teacher and it showed in the effort they put in and all the loving messages and love hearts etc. Here are a few samples. We punched holes in the pictures and joined them into a little book with a piece of ribbon.

At the same time as this was all happening, the friends of the beautiful Jo were making a quilt to celebrate the impending home birth of her third baby. The amazing Melissa sewed all the hand made squares together into an absolute work of heart. (That was a typo but I think "work of heart" works just as well as "work of art"). Here's the link to the photos of the quilt on Melissa's website. A beautiful "blessing way" was also held to honour Jo and give her and her baby lots of love leading up to the birth. I had never heard of a blessing way before and I described it to Scott as sort of a hippie baby shower. As part of it, we all sat quietly and sewed little felt angels with crystal, embroidery etc to make a mobile for Jo's baby. Here's a photo of Jo with the mobile. Her little baby boy arrived safely at home last week and was safely caught by his Daddy, Simon while Hugo and Isobel watched in excitement. Jo is so clever that she gave birth to Otto in less time than it takes to bake a cake and before her midwives arrived.

The next baby to arrive is my brother's and his new wife's baby boy in April. My family are over the moon and my sister and I are going to make a really special baby quilt together. His wife is East Timorese so we think we might buy some beautiful colourful Bali pop material to remind him of his part of the world. My sister and I haven't met our new sister-in-law yet so we are impatiently waiting for her to arrive in Australia on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the new no dig garden

Just a few photos to show what's been happening in the garden......

The hydrangea bushes that came with the house when we bought it in 2007 have burst into bloom. I find the sheer abundance and colour of the flowers so beautiful.

Early Sunday morning, my little girl and I went out to inspect the new no dig garden that I made when home alone Saturday afternoon. She was wearing her prettiest nightie, which is a rare occurence. She normally refuses to wear any sort of pajamas to bed and at 7.30pm I really couldn't care what she wears as long as she goes to sleep. So...I shall treasure these photos of her wearing nighttime attire. She had a lovely time doing poses on the edge of the new garden for the camera.

As you can see, the puppy fence didn't reach all around so I had to improvise with some crates. There is also some serious clearing of bladey grass clumps that needs to happen but I am delegating that to someone in the family with bigger muscles than me.

I still need a few more layers of compost, manure, sugar cane mulch etc before I can start planting. The nice thing was that I managed to make the garden with things that were lying around (ie old bricks and bits of wood, the old puppy fence) so for once, I felt I was doing my little bit for the planet.