Friday, 30 September 2011

Surviving Disappointment

 I was staying up late. I shouldn't have been. Eve hasn't reliably been sleeping through the night long enough to warrant such a late bed time. But I was excited. I was so sure I was going to make it to the short list for the Celebrate Color comp which I'd entered my drawstring play mat in. Finally I decided to wait till morning and with one last refresh on the laptop, I stood up to go to bed.
Wait! The results had been posted! I nervously and excitedly clicked on the link and started to read the list of names. I read it again just to make sure mine hadn't hidden from view the first time.
It hadn't.
My heart gave that kind of thud it often does when I've been met with disappointing or sad news.
And then I got that repetitive wave of feeling as I processed what had happened.
I had gotten a bit ahead of myself.
I had gotten my hopes up.
This creative thing is a risky business. It's so easy for me to set up each sale, each 'like', each comment or page view as a measure to tell me I'm ok, and each knock back or silence as a personal rejection.
And we avoid disappointment like a cancer in our culture. We are told not to get our hopes up. Not to count our chickens before they hatch. Not to get ahead of ourselves. To prepare for the worst.
Why? (Why bother living through the disappointment before you even know the outcome?)
The other night as I sat in front of the computer, I just let myself feel disappointed for a while. It was, after all, disappointing, and therefore felt like just the right feeling to let myself have.
And after a moment, a little voice inside me asked, "Do you like what you've made, Jodi?"
"Yes," I replied, "Very much."
"Even if it doesn't sell or win prizes?"
And then I felt like I could keep doing this a bit longer. Keep making things that are an expression of me and put them out there to be critiqued, judged, sold. And that I could hope people like them. And I could be disappointed with the outcome. And still be ok.
Because I feel like this whole thing is only going to work if it's a beautiful expression of me and not just one massive question mark, "Am I ok??"
And that way I can enjoy the beautiful expressions of other people, the ones that do get 'chosen' because they are wonderful too. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Big Ideas for Little People (and big people too.)

This week I've been perusing Pinterest for ideas for organisation and communication. I've been thinking a lot about rhythms and routines in the home, weekly, daily, ways of building predictability and safety. These are words I've always shuddered at but I'm starting to long for them for these reasons:
- I spend half the day feeling like I should be doing something else
- I get asked about 20 times a day by Tully if he can watch TV
- I rarely finish something I'm working on. I start sorting the washing, put some tea towels away, notice the dishwasher has finished...

Have you found ways of being more organised, or to encourage you kids to play creatively, or just sure it's the right time to be doing something? I just love the idea of a chalk board! I would love to paint my back door black! But alas, I live in a rental, so I've been thinking of ways to use what I already have to create some kind of weekly calendar on our wall.
Then I thought of this:

Yesterday, Tully and I cut up some yummy Anna Maria Horner fabric and put it in photo frames. I was in charge of the scissors and he was in charge of the little tabs holding the back boards in place.

I finally used the beautiful middle print which was given to me by my lovely friend Lucy for my birthday. It's now out of print and very rare and I dallied for ages, looking at it before I cut into it. In the end, I reasoned that it was such a generous gift, that a good way to honour it would be to use it on my wall rather than keep it on my shelf.

I didn't have many plain, light fabrics. I always go for bold, bright prints, which are difficult to write over so the hardest part was choosing the colours. But you could use paper, either with designs already on it, or have your little one paint it with water colours first.

I feel excited about this because it can either be used as a weekly planner or a daily one. And I could use the large print for notes, messages, or a place for dates to remember for the month. This morning as I was arranging them (on the floor, we haven't bought hooks yet), I thought that each morning, Tully and I could stand at the frames and write what we wanted to do that day. You could even draw the day in pictures in each of the frames (play outside, read a book, help mum hang out the washing) so little kids could understand and be part of planning the day.

And for those who can't read Tully's handwriting, this says, "Go shopping and then come home and ride scooters."

Have you found something that's worked for you? What helps you build structure and encourage creativity and play. Any other ideas for distracting your toddler from the lure of the TV, or getting involved in the household chores? Please share them with us!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

To Lavender, Bare Feet and Picnics at the Beach

After a long and arduous week, 10 month old Eve Lily and I are proud to announce the arrival of TWO new pearly whites. FINALLY!

So to celebrate this fine achievement, Evie slept a total of SIX HOURS today, giving us all a well earned rest and that wonderful feeling you get when you know that something awful is finally over (till the next teeth)!
 My reward for several days without sleep was a day at the sewing machine. (Well, who wants to go to bed when you can sew?)

Before the onslaught this week, I had started madly sorting through my huge mess of a scrap bin, cutting and sewing 2.5" strips together according to colour, and cutting them into large triangles because all my drawstring play mats had sold out within 2 weeks of opening shop! I've been so excited by this response because I love them too!

Rachel, over at Stitched in Color is hosting a competition called "Celebrate Color" to welcome Autumn to the Northern side of the globe. Here in Sunny Newcastle, Australia, we're just starting to enjoy wearing t-shirts, playing outside without shoes on, going to the beach for picnic dinners and watching the iris' and lavender come into bloom in my garden. So, to celebrate the 'in-between' seasons, a time of mildness, fresh air, bare skin and colour, I made this happy colour wheel.

 For those who have dropped in for the first time (welcome!), this is a drawstring play mat. A funky shoulder bag steps into a phone booth and becomes a fun, hexagon quilt! (We like alter egos around here.) Use it to carry your toys to playgroup, a picnic to the beach, or to rest your head under a big red autumn tree and read a book in the park.

 I loved the way my old stash of Anna Maria Horner fabrics went with my new acquisition of "Children at Play" by Sarah Jane, finished off perfectly with Joel Dewberry's "Ginseng" for the bag. I used soft cotton wadding and machine stitched around the hexagon's lines.
 Celebrate Color includes a competition to enter colourful handmade goods. You should duck over and see the beautiful things other people are making in autumn colours. In the next few days, five top entrants will be shortlisted for people to vote for their favourite. (Ooh, I can't wait!)

 This funky bag/play mat is now available in my shop!

The Hindsight Checklist.

After 4 days and nights of those nasty teeth cutting relentlessly through Evie's poor gums, it feels like I've achieved nothing except record low sleep levels and a messy kitchen. A screaming baby puts the whole house on hold, or so it seems. But as I was sitting outside on the back steps, asking Tully to collect various things aorund the garden of a particular colour, an afternoon game which kept both kids happy, it occured to me the task of parenting isn't always about getting things done, but sometimes involves just a whole lot of comforting, watching, patting, singing and sitting on the back step.
So, to remind myself of all I have achieved in the last week, I have compiled a checklist, in hindsight.
  • sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star repeatedly.
  • sit out on back step and play colour game with Tully.
  • make sure Tully has a well rounded diet of Vegemite sandwiches, milk, cheese, Weetbix and apples.
  • resourcefully find items to calm screaming, teething baby (mobile phone, shoes, champagne cork).
  • leave washing out to ensure extra drying/bleaching. (and now, an extra wash)
  • watch Cars with Tully and answer the same questions you do every time you watch Cars with Tully. 
  • teach Tully to vacuum lounge room floor.
  • get up several times during the night for cuddles and quality time with Evie.
  • administer Panadol.
  • place all edible items in bottom cupboard for easy toddler access
  • find educational viewing material to amuse toddler.
  • sway back and forth with baby in front of mirror.
  • resourcefully feed family with eggs, broccoli, rice and orange juice.
  • slow dance with baby. 
  • fall asleep with tired baby on chest.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Things in my Head

I hope you don't mind me occasionally sharing the things that happen in my head. I'm enjoying slowly learning to see the things that wrap me up in myself and stop me caring, creating, living.

I think my little girl is teething. Poor thing. And today was going to be vaccination day. And after our sleepless, sad day yesterday, I decided to put it off.
But this morning, I doubted my decision. Maybe I just wanted another whole day of sewing. Maybe I just wasn't willing to put up with another day of high temperatures and grizzly baby. And for the sake of her long term health. Maybe I was just being very selfish and I should just harden up and get over it.
You know, I'm getting better at listening to the noise in my head. Normally, this would just play over and over till I caved or it hit 4pm and the immunisation clinic closed. But this time, I stopped. And thought, wait. Eve's not well, she's sad. I don't want to add to that. I can wait till next time. I am a caring mother and I'm ok with this decision.
And the noise stopped.

Help me to be kind to myself today
To take a deep breath
Relax my shoulders
To stop and listen
Help me to see life and colour
in what today brings
to be proud of what I achieve
and let go when I don't
Help me do the thing before me
without going back over the list in my head
living completely one thing at a time
Help me not to second guess my motives
Rest in what I've chosen
Care for those around me
Let them be who they are

Monday, 19 September 2011

What's the BIG Idea?

Hello, how was your weekend? Mine was full of in-laws and tired kids. The former was great, the latter, not so much. And if we're allowed to be honest here, we could say that the former caused the latter. But that's ok. Let's hope we all catch up on some sleep and good moods through the week.

So, during one of the times I was feeding a tired baby, I was acquainting myself with Pinterest. Have you heard about it? It's the perfect 'pass the time while feeding a tired baby' website. You look for pretty or interesting pictures, post them to your virtual pinboard, and promise yourself you'll make that or go there or buy that one day.

Well one great idea I found used an old wipes dispenser and immediately connected with me because Evie is renowned for her covert operations finding the tissue boxes around the house and emptying them of their contents (and then eating their contents.)

I also knew it was something I could do one day (like today!) because I'd just been cutting a whole heap of 2.5" strips for some new drawstring mats (because I sold my last one today! Yay!)

First, I grabbed an empty baby wipes dispenser, and some strips I prepared earlier by cutting up my scraps and sewing them together. You could use old t-shirts, pillow cases or denim jeans if you don't have a big fabric stash.

 And, you don't even need to sew them together, but tie them instead!

Then I placed the long fabric strip in the dispenser, careful to keep hold of one end.

Then I tucked the end through the 'teeth' of the lid, closed the lid, and pulled it through!

Then, I sat Evie in front of it to take a photo and she burst into tears. Obviously still too tired for exciting new handcrafted games. :(
Don't forget, (and I know you won't, I just need to add), if you make one too don't leave your little one unattended with this. You don't want them to tie themselves up! Or have your 3 year old wrap your 9 month old up like a Christmas present, as I'm sure Tully would love to do. :)

So, have any big ideas to make parenting, sewing, living more colourful or just easier? Share them with us! I'll be looking for fun things to do with or for kids, or for anyone to feature in "What's the BIG idea?" each week!


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

According to Plan

Today hasn't gone according to plan. Tully's home sick from daycare. Tim's off sick from 'Daddy and Eve Day'. And I had a very fun, full list of things I wanted to get done today. On my own.

When Tully is sick, poor little man, he hangs out on the couch, all meek and mild, telling me all about his sick nose and his desires for ice-cream and watching the Octonauts. He asks if he can go to bed early, please and then sleeps the afternoon away. Apart from feeling sad for him, it's easy peasy.

But then comes the next stage. The "I've got all this pent up energy to burn but I'm still not well enough to go to daycare" stage. And that's what stage we're up to today. He jumps on the couch while watching TV, falls off the couch while watching TV. So I take him outside and think, 'I'll be able to take photos of bibs while he rides on the driveway.' But he jumps and falls down the stairs, the slide, the skate board.

So then we come back inside for morning tea and to tidy up the toys in his room. Tully loves when I tidy up his toys. It's probably the main time of the day when he and his favourite things get my undivided attention. We talk about each thing as it goes in the box. We pretend to post the little things through the holes cut out for handles. We play peek-a-boo with Evie through the cot bars as she plays happily in her cot.

Then Tully jumps in the cot too and says, "You should take a photo of us, Mum. Lots of photos!" And I think, well, I haven't blogged in ages, and the light is very good in here. And it would be good to get a nice photo of them together.

But do you think I can get one shot where both kids are looking at me at the same time and smiling?
"I said smile, Tully, nicely. Don't say cheese, it looks like you're in pain."
"Tully, kneel next to Eve and look at me. No, don't get too close, you'll push her over. Evie! Look at Mummy!"
Nope. Not one. Sigh.
I decide it's time for lunch, feed the hungry zoo, put Tully to bed, make myself a cup of tea and sit down.
And here I am now. Looking at these cute photos of my kids. Feeling a bit sad that I had such a certain idea of what kind of picture I wanted, of what kind of day I wanted. One where they sat still, face together, but not too close and smiled. At the same time. Where they played happily on their own and didn't need my attention.
But I didn't give birth to puppets. Or adults.
And these ones are more fun.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Someone get me a hot chocolate!

Because I've already reached my caffeine limit for the day. (If I wasn't still breastfeeding and running the risk of awake baby all night, believe me, I wouldn't care!) I'm exhausted!

So here's our stall at the markets today!

So, you wanna know how it went?
- I was up till 2am this morning pinning labels and sewing buttons.
- The table was about half the size we were expecting. So all our stuff got squished up too tightly.
- I sold one bib.
- I got to talk to about 10 people, which was fun and exciting till I realised they weren't coming over to look at my stuff to buy, but they were other bored (but friendly) stall holders.
It. was. so. dead. :(
The main organiser had a baby (via cesarean, no less) 4 weeks ago! So there was no advertising, no signs to help people find this little dungeon and all those discount vouchers I printed out to go in show bags just sat there next to this sleep-deprived woman, idyll. Part of me is "poor woman" and the part that paid $50 for the table is "who starts a new market when you're expecting a baby???"

But I did receive several text and Facebook messages from lovely friends wishing me well. And I had a wonderful fan club turn up and tell me everything looked great.
SO! Lucky for all you wonderful people, all those beautiful things I didn't sell will go up on Tickle & Hide slowly through the week.
And seeing no one got to enjoy my 10% off vouchers for market goers, you can! Until the end of September, use the code "market10" at checkout for a 10% discount in store! I'll keep you posted about the new yummy things going up this week.
You guys are great!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

To Market, To Market!

 My friend Anna (from Feathering Nest) and I are off to Market on Saturday! The new Newcastle Handmade Market is located at "The Place" in Charlestown near Charlestown Square. If you're local, come and say hi!
Today, I've been madly putting my beautiful birthday fabric (above) to good use.

 I've put button holes in these (they've been waiting for said holes for months.) I'm so, so afraid of button holes. So big pat on the back for me.

 I still need to do the last of the stitching on these lovelies. Oh yummy tea pots and cute kids!!

 I've put tags on these, made by my amazing husband. (Anyone want to employ him? He's seriously an all-round star.)

 LOOK! Aren't they adorable! I got so excited about these, I made 6! (2 in each size). I put the pretty parade picture on the front.

Then on the back I used funky dots, or stripes. Then used matching cute prints from this "Children at Play" fabric line on the reverse.
The kids better sleep tonight because I have a lot of buttons to sew on and shoulders to stitch up!
If you'd like to get in before the market, (or want more detailed photos,) let me know and I'll put aside the size you're after. Otherwise, whatever's left will be put in Tickle & Hide on Etsy next week.

Woohoo! Jodi. xx

Does anyone who makes kid's TV actually have kids??

Tully and I love Lazy Town. It's colourful, melodramatic, it has singing and dancing. And the super hero, Sporticus, does somersaults on the way to saving people. Super Tully has turned into Sporticus recently. He leans against the wall, stretching his calf muscles, wiles the hours away outside jumping over things and rescuing with the the Octonauts (a bunch of animals who live in the ocean rescuing sea creatures). It's everything a parent wants in a kids show to help her not feel quilty about her 3 year old watching television. Until today.
We love Sesame Street. It's educational and politically correct. But my 3 year old hasn't learnt how to count to 20 yet. He has learnt how to eat a rice cake without any of it actually making its way down his throat. Tully doesn't care that they've started talking about cookies as 'sometimes food.' He doesn't want cookies. Rice cakes make a heaps better mess, thank you.
And has anyone noticed that Sporticus grabs an apple to give him energy, takes one bite and throws it away. In the past week, I have found 5 apples with one or 2 bites taken out of it then discarded, behind the couch, under the bed, on the barbeque. Added to that, our beloved superhero can't hold anything without throwing it up in the air, running, somersaulting and catching it on his way to where he is going. This morning it was a book that he finished reading. (Oh yes, it's good to show super heroes enjoying reading). He threw the book up in the air, flew after it and caught it just as he reached the bookshelf to put it away.
Tully, excited by this new trick, has since thrown cushions, spoons, books, cups.  (And has not, we've noticed, taken up reading.)
"Tully, please don't throw things inside. We only throw balls or other throwing things outside."
"But Sporticus throws things in his house."
Does anyone who makes these shows actually have kids?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Did I actually do that?

Orange juice, sunshine, wearing a t-shirt and flowy skirt. Newcastle is treating us well these days. Tim's out, Tully's at Amanda's (daycare) and Eve's asleep. And Katie Melua is serenading me. In fact, just to feel the vibe with me, you should open a new tab, go to youtube and find a Katie Melua tune, maybe "You Taught me How to Dance." and then have it playing along in the background while you keep reading. Go on. I'll wait...

My first sales ready to post!

Well, this past week has been so far out of my comfort zone, I've hardly known what to do with myself. In some ways opening an online store has felt more me that I have for a long time. In others, it's gone against every natural grain in me.
I've always had such strong, idealistic views about 'valid' employment. For example:
Working with orphans: valid; social work: valid; feeding the poor in Africa: valid.
Marketing or advertising: greedy; writing: indulgent; making baby clothes and selling them online: extravagant.

I always thought I was going to live overseas. I've visited orphanages in Russia and the poverty-stricken in Poland, I've been to a church in Brunei decked out as a dance studio with all the blinds closed because they didn't have the freedom to express their personal beliefs in public (or even privately as a group).

Tim cuddling a deaf and blind boy in a Moscow Orphanage.

Oh man. I was about to go on confidently about 'but this is me and I just have to be me...' until I went looking for a photo to add interest and found this one.
And now I don't know.
While we were in Russia, we wanted to give everything to those kids. Then we came home and had our own...
Maybe I don't have to have all the answers. And maybe making something beautiful for someone to buy is as much a contribution to the world as cuddling a little blind boy. (Can it be?? Do I even need to compare it?) Maybe being who we are now is a beautiful contribution. And maybe there'll be another season where we head back over and give ourselves to those kids again.
A beautiful friend of mine who paints said to me yesterday, "My art isn't feeding starving children or rebuilding war-torn countries but it is beautiful."
And I thought it was so true! I would never scoff at her art because it isn't something else. It is what it was intended to be. Maybe I need to enjoy my creativity as if it was someone else's.

Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a rambling, unsure, existential blergh. But more a "Look what I did! I can hardly believe it and I'm proud of myself!"
Thank you all for your excitement and encouragement. I sold 4 dresses and a drawstring mat on the weekend! So now I'm frantically sewing up a heap more for the markets on Saturday. It is very, very fun.
Will you keep trying to figure it all out with me?

Jodi. xx
"It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, we must hunger for them." - George Elliot.