Saturday 7 May 2016

Yours truly

It's Mother's Day tomorrow, here in Australia.  I always find it's a strange day.  One where I prompt the husband to make sure he's organised.  For the sake of the kids.  Of course ;)  Which makes it feel very contrived and like I'm big-noting myself, because I'm totally rocking this mothering job.

But with 2016 heralding the start of a very long season (only eighteen years to go) of school runs, homework (or, home 'fun' as we call it), assessments, head lice and worms (yes, already) I have felt a little less like SuperMum and a lot more like curling into the foetal position and banging my head against a wall.  Repeatedly.  Like, over and over.

However, while sitting down with my husband this morning to pray, I realised, after a day at home yesterday that consisted of chunky coughs and snotty noses being dragged down my thighs, but also catch-ups with much loved and very dear friends, that I mustn't get caught up in the busy-ness of the school life and just 'doing stuff', and forget about my own friendships.  And without barking on about how I'm a person too and I need this and I need that... well, I am.  And I think I sometimes forget that 'my' person needs to be nourished and refreshed in order to keep going at the break-neck speed that motherhood occurs at, and nourish the little souls I have with me each day.

Now, I'm not talking about taking time out, or 'me time' consisting of a day at a health spa, or spending a handful o' fitties getting some retail therapy.  Although they sound like fantastic things to do and I'm totally in if anyone wants to shout me.  I'm just talking about having a cuppa and conversation with another adult who doesn't feel the need to discuss the colour of their poo with me, OR why there's chunks in it.  (This also includes, much to my dismay, going to bed early.  Earlier.  Not midnight.)

Because, as much as my personality likes to think life is all about achieving things and ticking boxes, it's not.  It's about relationship, and friendship, and spending time, not money.  It's about giving yourself.  And as Rosie says, it's about being a bucket filler, not a bucket dipper.

So, although I reminded husband that tomorrow is Mother's Day (not that I needed to, he had it covered!), and then proceeded to purchase a dress that will tonight be wrapped up and given to me tomorrow morning, at which point I will feign shock and surprise at the amazing choice the children made, I want you to know that I do not feel like I deserve any great accolade on this day.  In fact, I feel like I only just made it.  Hence, the very tongue-in-cheek 'Dear Mummy' phrases I created for this post.  But I couldn't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.  This is what I chose, and I wouldn't give it away for anything.  Presents will always be appreciated however.  I love presents.

Finally, I would like to apologise to my own dear Mummy for saying this to you after Evangeline was born.  I now also own a water bed.

Thursday 14 April 2016

There's always time for Wings

Something about having a baby gets my creative juices flowing.  As I was putting Ezra to bed tonight I realised the same thing happened after Lewis was born.  Ideas.  Lots and lots of ideas.

Maybe it's to do with all the time I spend sitting around feeding... lots of time to think...?  Or maybe it's something to do with the physical act of growing a baby - all those extra hormones or something...  Whatever the catalyst happens to be, it would be really nice if it could also find a way to create more hours in the day so I could actually DO something about those ideas.

What with a school run that takes close to two hours, a preppie, a three year old and an eight month old to chase around after, and a laundry that seems to have a science fiction level capability of growing dirty clothes, I honestly struggle to find the energy some days to even clean up the brekky dishes!  And then these creative ideas have the hide to dangle themselves in front of me, mocking me, jeering about the fact that I haven't washed my hair since the weekend (or was that the weekend before...?), and discussing whether my leg hair is yet long enough to braid.

In my frantic attempts to bring some semblance of order to a chaotic life I have dabbled in mono-tasking (it actually works if you can remember to do it), tried (failed) to go to bed earlier, bought a diary (I keep losing), and hung a rack in the laundry to house the school bags.  Winner! School bags are now homed (and I'm pleased to say the kids can actually reach their own bags - all they have to do is climb the mountain of washing underneath.)

But somewhere in the chaos, although I can't remember where exactly, just like I can't remember what exactly we did last night (ok, at all), I actually found time to make some Butterfly Wings.  Several pairs, in fact, but two particularly exciting pairs that were made out of the debut fabric lines of two ladies who have both been an inspiration to me on my own creative journey.

Sedef of Down Grapevine Lane asked me to make some wings for her booth at Quilt Market with her lovely and very aptly named 'Sweet Orchard' fabrics, and of course I said why good golly gosh yes!  And can I say, there is something a wee bit exciting about opening a parcel of fabric that you know only a few people in the whole world have been asked to work with.  And also a very big wee bit terrifying, because if I make one wrong cut I'm done for.  Sedef's fabric will be available to purchase in August this year! (September for Aussies - but remember, good things come to those who wait.  But honestly, I think they just say that to try and make us feel better about always getting everything later than everywhere else in the world.  All I can say is thank goodness for Netflix and Foxtel.).  Oh, and did I mention Sedef's writing a book?  It's called Quilt Petite!  What a great name!

And if you're wondering why there's no shots of Sedef's sweet little daughter looking at the camera (you probably weren't but I think it's the funniest thing so I'm going to pretend you were) it was because she was in a 'mood'.  And it did not happen to be a 'getting dressed up and wearing Butterfly Wings and getting photographed by her mother' kind of mood.  But then you probably already guessed that ;)

The second pair of wings I made were a surprise pair for Amy Sinibaldi (of NanaCompany fame) and her littlest girl, Mia.  I recently made a pair of wings from Amy's debut fabric line 'Paperie' for a customer's wedding and fell in love with the designs.  

Parchment in Soft Grey makes a perfect base, Manuscript in Navy gives a nice contrast and a bit of pop!, and the remaining florals and geometric designs have the right amount of contrast to make the applique stand out just so - all in true Amy style.

In my hastily scribbled note to Amy I quoted a slightly adapted version of the first sentence of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, which I felt was quite fitting and went something along the lines of:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, 
that a little girl, in possession of a fabric designing mummy, 
must be in want of a pair of Butterfly Wings."

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased to see Mia gave the wings a pretty good workout recently at the beach.  Head over to Amy's Instagram feed to see more!

Saturday 12 December 2015

About those Butterfly Wings...

I am so pleased/excited/a little bit nervous to announce that the Wife-made Butterfly Wings pattern is now available!  Waaaahoooo!

It has been such an exciting time working on this little project of mine and I am so glad it has been finally released into the wild, so to speak ;)  (You're not that wild, are you?)

I have been absolutely floored by the response to the pattern so far - and it has certainly given me the confidence to continue my pattern-making endeavours.  I have had ideas rolling around in the back of my head that I have just left sitting there, waiting to see how this one was received, so I guess I'll have to do something about them now ;)

I don't want to sound corny or twee, but there are many people to thank for helping me get to this point.  I had a fantastic group of pattern testers who are an absolutely lover-ly bunch of coconuts.  Their feedback helped me to fine tune my pattern drafts to get them to the point that I am now receiving Etsy reviews of five stars!  Wheeee!

I also need to thank Chrystal of Poetic Light Photography for the amazing and very beautiful photos she took of my wings.  My photography skills are sorely lacking and I could never have attained this level of beauty!

And of course, I must thank my dear husband, who now hopes to retire.  Not likely.  Or we'll surely starve!

If you would like to purchase my Wife-made Butterfly Wings Pattern, head over to my Etsy store where it is available for immediate download upon purchase.

Friday 30 October 2015

Life is grand in Babyland!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook will already know that this little fella joined our family almost three months ago.

Ezra Mac is a much loved member of our family, and as is always the way, it is hard to remember what life was like before he was with us.  I have vague recollections of more than 4 hours of sleep at a time, but life is definitely richer, albeit much tireder.

His arrival was well planned (third c-section style) and I have to say I really didn't like the planned part.  It all felt very clinical and I felt really nervous, despite having been through it all before twice (although both times before I was almost incoherent from exhaustion).  And though the process of it was vastly different to a natural labour, the magic of childbirth showed itself the moment they lifted him out of my cavernous belly and I heard his squeaky cry.  Needless to say, there were tears.

My newborn has already disappeared, and the baby I hold now is smiling and starting to coo and laugh.  These are precious precious moments that pass all too quickly, and I really am trying to soak them up, just in case this is the last time I get to experience this baby stage.

Rosie is loving being a big sister, and Lewis is too - yes, you read that right.  He is adamant he is a big sister.  And he is definitely no longer a baby, so be sure not to call him one, ok!  It is pretty funny to see Lewis, not THAT much older than the baby he's referring to, saying "Oh, he's sooo tyooot!".

Settling on a name was a journey this time.  Both times before we had one favourite, and although we didn't formally name them until we'd met them, we were pretty sure they were going to be Rose and Lewis.  This time however, I really struggled.  Initial discussions were about calling him Mac, after my Dad.  But when it came to the crunch I just didn't feel like I could do that.  It didn't feel right.  Then we talked about Jonah, and although we liked the name, the bible story of Jonah left us both feeling a little underwhelmed.  Ezra was a name that we both liked and the meaning, helper or God helps, felt right.  We'd love him to be a help to those he's with - what a lovely meaning to live up to.

And so, life as five is plodding racing tearing along.  At breakneck speed.  I feel like each day has suddenly lost a few hours, and everything I have to do takes me ten times longer.  For example, the vacuuming, which would normally take me a half an hour now takes me... *jokes* I don't have time to vacuum!

They say life gets simpler the more kids you have, but I think it's more to do with the fact that your expectations get lower the more kids you have.  If you can manage to wash and dry your hair once a week, well then that's a good week, and hairy legs are the reason God created long pants.

Monday 27 July 2015

Patchy Wool Cushions and That Thing Called Life.

Well, don't I feel like the naughty schoolgirl who hasn't been doing her homework!  It's been over three months since I posted anything on this poor old blog.  It's almost as bad as those dreams you have where you turn up to school and find out you have a key maths exam that day that you haven't studied for.  And to top it off you forgot to put your pants on before leaving home.

Needless to say, life has been busy and I've been busier.  Three weeks to go in my third pregnancy.  Half-way through house renovations (Kill me now.  What the heck was I thinking trying to grow a baby, manage a household with two toddlers, run a small business AND renovate an entire house??  I'll admit, all I heard my husband say was 'new kitchen'.  Hee hee.).  And then there's just been the usual lifey stuff on top of that.  You know, the stuff you can't possibly expect, that just turns up on your doorstep and expects you to take care of it..?  Well.

But in amongst all of this I have been plodding along, plying my wares on Instagram and Facebook and Etsy.  Just not this blog.  Something's gotta give, after all.  I may be Super-Mum and Super-Wife, but Super-Blogger I am not.  *sigh*  Please forgive me.  (I'm not really any of those, just to clarify.)

So, if you're still here and interested, allow me to show you what I've been working on of late.  Apparently it's winter here in Australia (my kids are currently walking around in shorts, so who's to say for sure), so I've enjoyed getting out my vintage wool blankets and having a play.  I recently cleaned out my sewing room (not that you can tell now!), and after sorting out all my scraps I started fiddling and cutting and stitching and ironing and stitching some more, and this is what I came up with.

 And I kinda went, "Wow. I really like it." So I kept cutting and stitching and it became a cushion top.

And then I just kept cutting and stitching and made another cushion top.  And another one.  And I think I may have started something I can't stop, but I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily, unless I become some kind of weird Dr Seuss-like caricature that collects patchy cushions... But that's what husbands are for, right?  To prevent their wives from becoming weird Dr Seuss-like caricatures.  Yeeeeeeeeeeeessssssss.

So here's one of the finished cushions - a bolster.  Which I worked out myself, no pattern or anything.  Not that that's anything to brag about particularly, it's just that I really like how it turned out.

 Even the wrong side looks cool.  I think I need to make a reversible version so that you can have it all rough and raggedy like this, or neat and tidy.  Depending on your mood.  Or the state of your lounge room.  Cushions should reflect your level of tidiness, after all.

So, before I head off again, I just want to mention I'm having a 25% OFF SALE on selected items in my Etsy store, The Wife-made Emporium.  It's only on the items that you can see in the 'Sale - Vintage' and 'Sale - Handmade' categories, so if anyone tries anything shifty, be sure I'll know!

And hopefully I'll be back here again soon, with some more pics of what I'm working on currently.  And possibly even some pics of lovely finished renovations, although probably before that I'll have photos of an even more exciting project I've been working on for the last 8 months and is currently sitting on my lap in the shape of a very large basketball...  No, it's not a crochet basketball cover, in case you were wondering.

P.S.  I go on maternity leave in three weeks.  It's basically a working holiday.  Minus the holiday.

Friday 17 April 2015

Cushions | Tickled Pink Market

Last night I worked like a machine.  Honestly, I don't know what got into me, but the husband was out, the kids were in bed and I was on FIRE!  And four finished cushion covers are the result.

The cushion tops have been staring at me for a while now.  Pleading with me with their big, sad unfinished edges to "Puhlease!" be made into something useful.  But I had misplaced me 'sewjo' and was ignoring their unwelcome pleas.

But yesterday I found my sewjo again.  Surprise!  'Someone' had hidden it under that purple and chartreuse cushion top, so when I finally forced myself to look at the pile again I saw the edge of it peeking out.  Darn cheeky thing.  But I guess that'll learn me for leaving something unfinished for so long... (Probably not.)

I will at some point post a pattern for the purple and chartreuse cushion top.  I've been wanting to make one of these for a while (have seen them over in Pinterestland a fair bit).  I couldn't find any measurements on the net anywhere so I had to make my own up, which I'll happily share with you at some point.  I've called it my 'Mis-matched Matchsticks' Cushion.  So stay tuned for that!

I styled the cushion above around Heather Ross's Briar Rose range, which sadly I am starting to run out of. Not sure if I'll buy more of it... but I do love it so!  Very bright and cheery.  It also has a combination of modern and vintage fabrics - of course!

This next cushion was the result of me playing with bits and pieces.  I was originally going to make a traditional patchwork but then I started fiddling and decided to do a pinwheel.  The back is from the lovely Verna Mosquera Rosewater range.  Soft and pretty.

And then there's this one.  Modern vintage to a T.  A combination of vintage Sanderson upholstery fabric and a bright, modern pom-pom trim!

All waiting patiently to go to new homes :)

Tuesday 14 April 2015

April | Caesarean Awareness Month

Daniel, Rosie and Lewis (aka. Bubby Boy)
Did you know that April is Caesarean Awareness Month?  I didn't until tonight - in fact, I'm still not even sure if this is just an American thing... Anyway, while my kids were tearing around the McDonalds playground (don't judge me) and I was making use of the free wifi I stumbled across a post on the website Cordmama called 'Three Truths about C-section Mamas', and being a so-called 'C-section Mama' I was intrigued - what were these truths this person knew about me, which they supposedly knew just because I didn't birth my children 'the way nature intended'?

I don't really have much to say about the three truths the author mentions.  Am I brave?  I know I was so terrified at the thought of having an epidural that my husband struggled to hold my sobbing, rocking body still so the poor anaesthetist could get the needle in safely.  How about strong?  Well, my poor husband also had to get up through the night to pass me the baby for the first few weeks after having my first ceasarean because I was so sore, and then he had to go to work for 12 hours each day.  Ok, let's try beautiful?  Love, ain't nobody's beautiful after being 10 days overdue, followed by 39 hours of labour and a c-section! 

Meeting my first, Rose.

But, as this article implies, there is, without a doubt, a stigma associated with c-sections.  At times, I have felt like less of a woman because my body didn't (or couldn't?) do what it was supposed to do.  I have felt like less of a mother.  I have felt like I failed.  I have felt disappointed.  I have felt sad.  And while I acknowledge it is completely valid to feel those emotions at missing out on what is undeniably an absolutely mind-blowing miracle, I now know that the thing that tries to tell me I am less of a mother and a woman and that I failed because I didn't have a natural birth, well, that thing is a lie.  It is a complete and utter untruth.  

I don't know why I couldn't birth my children naturally.  I don't know why my body took so long to progress.  I've wracked my brain trying to find the one reason that will let me put this to rest once and for all.  That one elusive reason that will finally be the death of that darn undermining question that pops into my head every now and then (mostly when I'm pregnant, which just happens to be now).  

Maybe it was that their round little heads just didn't fit my hips... Maybe the relaxin in my body wasn't enough to make my tendons stretch enough... Maybe I didn't do enough yoga beforehand... Maybe I should have read that birthing book just one more time...  Maybe it was this.  Maybe it was that.  

All I know for sure is that sometimes God has other plans...

With my first, complications arose towards the end of the pregnancy.  My fluid levels were low due to a failing and calcifying placenta and my baby's growth rate was declining instead of the usual growth explosion they go through just before birth.  So, fully aware that things might not go as hoped during labour my Obstetrician decided he didn't want me to go more than four days over, and as first babies don't often come on time, I was induced.  After 18 hours, with many of those spent attached to a drip pumping me full of what is commonly called Syntocinon (but which I have henceforth renamed 'the torture drug'), my baby's heart rate dropped.  I have never seen nurses move so fast (except when I fainted post-caesarean, boy did that nurse move fast!).  There was no mucking around.  The decision was made.  Emergency caesarean.

My favourite post-birth photo of me and Rosie.

With my second, I went into labour spontaneously, which is what I had hoped for.  I woke up at 6am on a Wednesday morning feeling uncomfortable and achey (remembering I didn't experience spontaneous labour for the first one, this was all knew to me!).  After a couple of hours of timing contractions, I called the hospital to see what they thought and after speaking with my Obstetrician the midwife told me to come straight in.  As I was attempting a VBAC there were certain precautions that needed to be taken, so off I waddled to the hospital where I spent the next 35 or so hours working very hard to have a natural birth.  

The week leading up to the birth my daughter had been quite ill with a virus, and I remember lying in bed one night holding a feverish child and wondering what would happen if I got sick during labour.  Little did I know, I was about to find out.  

The morning of the second day of labour I knew I didn't feel right.  I hadn't eaten properly for a while because I'd been vomiting (not unusual during labour), but I also felt fluey.  And then, after taking my temperature, my Obstetrician started to quiz me on whether I felt ok because my temperature was up.  Determined to have the baby naturally, I told him I felt fine (I do not recommend doing this by the way - labour makes you do stupid things).  By about 1pm that afternoon I asked for an epidural because I was completely spent.  I felt absolutely horrendous.  But being as stubborn as I am, I was still keen to keep trying, so once the epidural was in, the midwife turned the Syntocinon up to 'Ludicrous Speed' and I slept, letting the drugs do their thing.  At about 5pm that night I attempted to push, until it was decided I needed another hour or so to be really ready.  Halfway through that hour I told my Obstetrician I couldn't do anymore.  I had had enough.  There was nothing left in me.  I felt so, so sick and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to find the strength to push this baby out.  So, it was another caesarean.  Not emergency, but definitely not elective.  Unfortunately, this was only the start of a two month stint in hospital with a very, very ill baby that I never ever want to repeat again.  But that's another story.

My boy, Lewis.

At times, when I have thought back to my second labour I have questioned my decision to end it.  Did I give up too quickly? (If you can call 39 hours too quick!)  Maybe I could have pushed him out if I'd only given it another half hour...?  Because that would mean that I'd be able to have another natural birth this time, instead of bizarrely knowing already when I will most likely be meeting this new member of our family.  In the end though, I just have to trust the decision that past Xanthe made (that Xanthe knew fully what was going on back then, unlike present Xanthe who struggles to remember).  I also have to trust that wonderful, knowledgeable and very experienced midwife (whose name escapes me right now!) who was there at the end, and who, when asked if I'd made the right decision, told me very matter-of-factly and without a flicker of doubt that there was no way I was going to push that baby out.  And finally, I have to trust my Obstetrician (who I do still trust implicitly, by the way!), who could obviously see how sick I was, because he didn't try to talk me into giving it a bit more time.  

And I'm realising more and more that it just doesn't matter.  It is what it is.  

I have two healthy kids and another on the way.  Hallelujah!  Just because they didn't leave my body the way its been done for thousands of years doesn't mean anything.  In fact, thank God I had the choice.  Thank God me and my children didn't become statistics of death in childbirth.  And thank God I had a wonderful and attentive Obstetrician and team of midwives who were with me the whole time, were completely on the ball and didn't let anything slip.  For this I am forever thankful and eternally grateful.

(Gold Coast mums-to-be, if you want to know the name of a great obstetrician and private hospital, send me an email!).