Thursday, May 30, 2013

in stitches: heidi and finn downtown hat

PDF sewing pattern received for free for testing and reviewing purposes from Heidi and Finn.

It's starting to cool down here. The beachside breeze is getting colder and decidedly stronger. Hats that cover little ears are in order.

I was lucky enough to be chosen to test Heidi and Finn's new pattern: the Downtown hat. I got stuck in, using a range of stretch fabrics I already had, and had made up four hats in 24 hours. A lightweight green one, two fleece and a check polar fleece. I found the polar fleece the best fabric for this pattern- it has a good amount of stretch, with enough thickness to make the hat look nice and sturdy. I love the way the ordinary fleece sewed up, but would suggest going up a size for this less-stretchy fabric. The interlock fabric was a little trickier to sew, but makes up a lovely light-weight hat perfect for season's change weather. The instructions in the pattern were so easy to follow and provided this stretch-fabric novice much-needed support. I loved the pattern so much I took the kids to the fabric shop and let them choose a print from the polar fleece range. Thirty centimetres of a 150cm wide fleece fabric is ample, and with a half price sale on, each hat cost under two bucks!

And, seriously, how cute do they look?
 Have you been sewing lately? Are you using what you have? Have you ever made a hat?

Monday, May 20, 2013

a bad case of the mumdrums

As I slid my clean clothes into their drawers last night, I did some boring maths and realised something a little sad. Approximately 72% of my clothing worn the previous week was pyjamas. The next 14% was trackies (exercise gear not used for exercising), the rest was undies. I wore nothing that required ironing, and stuck to my gardening clogs for all-about-the-town shoes.

The fact that all my clothing ends in 'ies' rings alarm bells.
Let's face it, my self-standards are slipping. Have slipped. Are now non-existent. I have succeeded in becoming invisible under that pile of dishes, on the school run, putting away the laundry. Nobody notices me, so it doesn't matter what I look like, does it? The more ordinary I look, the more invisible I want to be. The more invisible I am, the less I need to care.
I wish I could say, I really don't care. I don't care if you judge me based on how I look. That what I wear bears no importance on my abilities as a human, that my value is so much more than my stretchy pants. Because essentially, morally, this is what I believe. But I know that this is also not the issue.
My invisibility-ugly cycle is my own doing. I make excuses to avoid booking a hair appointment- there isn't any time! I allow soft squishy rolls to gather around my belly- exercise is impossible with little kids! I don't meet up for coffee or lunch- toddler needs to nap! I don't believe that anyone would find me interesting or worthy, so I avoid social interaction with humans over the age of eight. Which just isn't right, really, is it? Who am I to presume to know what other people see? I am deliberately making myself invisible, to purposely avoid social situations.
It's time to pick myself up by the furry lining of my gardening clogs, put on some big girl pants and get on with stuff. I am making sure I miss out on a whole bunch of life by being invisible. But it's so comfortable, being invisible! Comfortable, but not fun. Hiding is not living. I'm not really sure where to start, though. Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

when you run out of babies

Today we celebrate our little one heading out of babyland and firmly planting her competent feet in the toddler arena.

I have been a little grumpy. She has been a tad unwell. I made a chocolate cake, iced it like my mum used to, and just went with it.

We had a little party over the weekend, entirely un-pin-worthy. It was family and friendfamily, kids we have all known since pre-birth. Party games consisted of small children (and perhaps some adults) hurling themselves down a sheet of plywood on a hill on various wheeled devices. Food was home-made hamburgers and milkshakes (not a stripy straw or small glass milk bottle in sight). We thought it was time to call it a night not long after the disco ball and glow sticks came out. All perfectly lovely and totally lacking in cool.

My pregnancy and birth of this little one was a changing time for me. I am amazed to reflect back and see that we do things quite differently, as a family. We are different parents to our three, than we were to one and then two. We have changed and grown with each new child born, and now we face a new era.

A end to baby times. No more candy-striped bunny rugs in plastic bassinettes. No more fuzzy soft heads or transparent toenails. No more exhausting nights and exhausted days. I know we are firmly in Toddlerville now. She has refused to take off her new pyjamas for the last two days. She has long blondish hair that falls in her face and which she swoops out of her eyes with great flair. She can tell me My tummy hurt and Stop it, Mummy. Shhh when I sing silly songs. It's a good place to be. I am seeing brief opportunities for self-development; I had forgotten that existed!

I am looking forward to more fun and surprises with this girl. I am excited to see her wicked humour develop further. I know she will take enormous physical risks over the next year, and I know that I will probably helicopter less than in previous toddler times. I know that she will be watching me closely and listening to me carefully, so I will endeavour to show her love, patience and kindness.

Happy second birthday, Baby Mine.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

defining mothering: we're doing it wrong

One of the most fascinating things I've discovered since our sea change three years ago has been the ever-changing outlook of the beach. That girl looks different every single day. Some days are like a lake, other days are tumultuous and wild. Some days there is a vast expanse of sand to walk on, other days we scramble over a narrow stretch covered in weedy debris. I initially felt unsettled by this daily change. Nervous, because every day didn't necessarily fit my preconceived definition of 'beach'.

Whenever I try to navigate the parenting landscape, I'm struck by the need to define the indefinable. Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, laissez-faire, retro, instinctive parenting, passive parenting, authoritative parenting: at some point, so far, I've defined my self as each of them. But there is not a single one I could pick to define our parenting choices throughout. Because, like most parents, we are of the "make the best decision we can, with the knowledge and resources we have at the time" school. Our family unit model has changed, growing over six years to include one, two, then three children. We have had combinations of full-time working mum, stay-at-home-dad, part-time working mum, full-time working dad, stay-at-home-mum, with spatterings of formalised long day care, before and after school care and grandparent and uncle care.

Today, I am letting go of the desire to define myself as a 'type' of parent. Because that inherently leans towards placing value on one type over another. It has taken me some time to accept the ebbs and flows of the beach conditions, and know that every circumstance is in some way ideal; not just the sweet, sunny days. Rugging up in warm clothes and meandering around the rocks on a windy day gives us an opportunity to see things in a different way. I never expected our circumstances to involve an extended period of full-time leave from work, but I am very grateful for the time and the lessons I have received in that time.

This parenting work is truly a task of building the plane mid-flight. Children are growing, their needs are constantly changing. Adults are evolving constantly, too. Circumstances around finances and values (and how to align the two) are always shifting, and vary wildly between families. From now on, I will stop working so hard to label what I do (and what you do, too) as a parent, and work to enjoy the connection and the ride.


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