Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Make your own mermaid... part one!

My apologies, was hoping to have a completed tutorial for this! But this might just get one or two lovely ladies on their way to making their own mermaids :)

You will need:

Fabric scraps (I used polycotton for the tail and calico for the body/face)
Felt (for the hair)
Permanent markers (fabric pens or sharpies)
Ribbon, beads, buttons, anything you fancy, really (for decoration)

Step 1:

Print pattern pieces onto A4 printer paper. Cut out the pieces.

Step 2:

Lay pattern pieces onto folded fabric, right sides in. Trace.

Yes, I traced my pattern pieces with a biro. It was handy!
You might have a posh disappearing ink pen or fabric marker,
I generally don't bother with such niceties!

Step 3:

Pin your fabric. DO NOT cut out the pieces!

Step 4:

Turn your stitch length down to the lowest setting. Turn the feed teeth under your foot *off*. You will be need to be able to carefully guide the fabric under the foot.

Step 6:

Sew around the traced lines, leaving the top of the tail and the bottom of the body open (so that you can join them later).

Click here for part two

Mermaid update

I've had a few emails wondering when the pattern is coming! Never fear, it's on its way - I have the pieces traced onto one sheet, am just working on some photos to make the instructions easier to follow... Bear with me :)

Work update...

Over half-way through week 3 - that means I'm 25% through the term... HOORAY! So far, so good :)

I have been pushing myself to exhaustion slightly, trying to do things with my own kids after hours. We're still making the weekly trips to the park and our weekly beach excursion has been well received (although we won't make it tomorrow, as I'm having a night out with the girls instead). I'm still managing to get simple but healthy meals on the table (I'm learning to forgive myself if sometimes the mash has come out of a packet). We're still reading, playing games, singing and having fun together, albeit for only a couple of hours each afternoon.

Working fulltime, the PROS -
* the house does not get nearly as messy - we're out more often and lets face it, I'm often the instigator of messy activities ;)
* less mopping/vacuuming/scrubbing all round
* I have way more time and patience for the 'witching hour' each day - I haven't had all day to be wound up by toddler tantrums and I'm just so pleased to be with them, my patience stretches further
* I feel much better about my contribution at work and am able to relax a bit more about making deadlines, fewer meetings etc
* I get one-on-one time with my oldest - what a treat to go get an iceblock at the tuckshop with Mr Z when I don't have playground duty (he even holds my hand while we walk over there)
* Hubby is loving getting a bit more time/control at home with the kids, the daddy-child relationship is growing even stronger (my hubby has always been a hands-on Dad and is enjoying the extra time at home)

Working fulltime, the CONS -
* I'm still having a little cry each morning on arrival at my desk - can't bear to put my photos up yet, I will well up at the very thought of my small boy smiling and having fun somewhere else.
* I feel the mother-baby bond slackening (although I remind myself that this always happens regardless - weaning and walking take care of that even without working)
* I'm missing seeing/hearing/cuddling my precious babies and it hurts. Makes me wonder how people who have split custody arrangements ever survive!
* I now have even less idea where that missing sock/library book/teddy/lunchbox is!

I feel like I must have grown up a bit these last six years - motherhood seems to have made me more organised, the weeks are flying by without too much drama :) I just keep looking at the calendar and reminding myself mid-semester break is just around the corner and then everything seems more manageable :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

I survived!

I survived the first week... HOORAY!

I managed to do something 'special' with the kids every afternoon, so I feel a lot better about the whole 'missing out' at home. We went to the beach, did some gardening, built a huge (heart-shaped) trainset and had fun on the verandah. These are all things that we do regularly anyway, so they weren't that special, but I was really concerned that these staples of our 'pre-work' life might disappear. I think I'm going to have to work hard to keep them in the schedule though, as today I'm particularly tired!!!

Wednesday in the garden was funny. I'd just said to Miss Piggy that I would have to pull up the (nearly dead) pea shoots as they were never going to fruit (or whatever it is you call pea plants growing actual edible peas). As I pulled the browning strings from the soil I noticed we had actually (by some strange miracle) managed to grow real peas! NINE of them in fact! Yes, nine actual peas in 7 actual pods! Not a feast in anyone's book, but highly pleasing to a four-year old girl who fancies herself a green-thumb. We pulled them up anyway, and she planted 8 new peas to watch grow from the dining room window. We ate the peas. They were AWFUL, but she claimed they were yum.

We also planted some basil. She was disappointed to hear that the leaves were 'it'. I think she'll be happy when I let her attack it with scissors, though - actually, do we cut it or should we rip off the leaves as needed?

The Small Boy seems to be coping OK with the change - he got a little bit wobbly-mouthed on the second day, but other than that no dramas. It seems he knows I'll be back and is enjoying the attention from the rest of the family in my absence. I know he must be missing me a bit, though, because twice this week he has crawled out of his bedroom (after bed-time) to lie at my feet under the computer table while I work.
I love this little fat-man, and am sad that my days
of listing him as my employer are over :(

Work is really good. I've slotted back in without much drama and feel confident that I still have 'it'. I'm not playing my a-game yet, but I'm doing OK. I'm hoping that after a full-on first few weeks, the workload might ease a bit and I can go back to getting some actual sleep!!!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quick craft for new bubs

Am starting to crave creativity!!! Ran a four pack of these up last night - one went to a brand new bubba today.

These have been popping up all over the place online and it was just the right fast-and-easy activity to sooth the anxiety of a very jam-packed day :)

Now.. back to work I go :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

D-Day... life rolls on...

Well... it happened! After 5+ years being primarily a stay-at-home mum (working part-time as a teacher for 3 of those years) I have become a full-time worker once more.

The flowers my very best friend sent me for surviving
the transition back to work. I also had texts, phone calls and emails
from all the people I love the best x

It was so hard to leave my chunky little cherubs this morning, waving at me over their breakfast bowls - and the mms I got when I looked at my phone at work nearly broke my heart: "Good Luck, Mummy!" attached to a picture of them on the couch at their Nana and Papas.

It has been a bit of a shock among my circle of mummy-friends. Indeed it was a bit of a shock to me, as well! There is nothing I like more than spending time with my kids, working to improve their quality of life, so to go back to a full load at work seems a bit out of character for me. BUT... it was time for a change and this opportunity was too good to pass up. When I first considered the idea, it seemed a ridiculous step to take, but slowly the pieces began to fall into place and I really believe that this is going to be a great step for our family.

I am DETERMINED. I have scheduled into the weekly routine a visit to the playground to catch up with Miss Piggy's friends (as she will no longer attend playgroup), a family outing for fish and chips at the beach - I work at the beach so this is totally doable, and while not the healthiest food, once per week aint gonna kill us. I've learned to cook quicker, I've stocked the freezer with heat-and-eats, so that I will spend less time in the kitchen and have more time with my babies. I've bought books that are specifically for reading on days mummy works (you should see Miss Piggy clamouring for the latest installment of the Faraway Tree books) and I will remind myself that I need to spend those hours between school and bed with my children... running around the backyard, chatting over snacks and playing boardgames... and maybe that way, they won't really miss out on quality "mummy" time at all.

This decision is made easier by a whole lot of things:

It means I will have job security - and be connected to a school where my children will be educated. I couldn't risk losing the opportunity to see them compete in sports days, perform school plays and just hard at work in their classrooms. Last year I worked the two days Mr Z went to kindy. The hours were tricky and I was rarely able to drop him off and pick him up. I really understood then just how important that regular contact was with his place of 'work'. It helped me to ask meaningful questions about his day so I didn't just get the response, "Dunno... don't 'member!"

It means that we can save for another overseas adventure and see some of my family members in the UK before they are too old to really play with the kids. My grandfather told me - last time I visited him - that seeing his great-grandchildren, getting to hold them and rock them to sleep, was an absolute highlight of his life. Now that he's gone, the memory of that conversation - had face to face over a meal - is so precious to me.

It means that the kids will get to see more of their Daddy who will be able to work from home and take more of an active role in caring for them while I am at work. He in turn can share some of the burden of being the breadwinner. Working for yourself makes you really worry about what would happen if you became ill or incapacitated. So we can share the worry about providing for our kids. Of course the kids will also love playing with Nana and Papa when we are both out at work.

It means poor Small Boy will no longer have to endure an hour plus in the car each day travelling to and from schools. I figure if I'm driving all that way down there each day, I may as well stay and be paid anyway!!!

However, it also means that I have had to say goodbye to all the lovely friends I've made at baby-music, playgroup and my study group. It will be hard finding time to get together outside of school hours and I'll admit many tears have been shed over this loss. It also means I don't get to kiss and hug my baby whenever I feel the urge. After 13 months spent almost exclusively together, going to work without him felt like going without an arm. I physically ached each time I thought of his cheeky smile.

It also means I've cut some other corners. I'll be giving up a few other things to make more time in my day (might actually give up blogger, too) but maybe the best thing I've learned about being a mummy is that making a sacrifice for the benefit of being with your kids, actively helping them to learn and grow, is no sacrifice at all. It is a privilege, and one I'm blessed to have been given three times over.

Wish me luck while I work this tangled mess out. I'm hoping it will teach me patience and organisation :) I hope I'll be able to find the energy to fit everything in and enjoy the ride!


Do you work full-time? Do you have any hints? Please, PLEASE, leave them below ;)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Backyard picnic

Just had to share... look what the kids planned, organised and executed on their own? A Teddy Bears' Picnic in the backyard! They happily collected all the plates, food, teddies, blanket at the top of the stairs and then ran up and down the stairs delivering it to the yard. They even remembered to put on their shoes, bless them (usually that takes some reminding).

Yes, he is in his pajamas. They are easier to wash and don't show the dirt.
I often put him in them for outdoor play - don't judge me! haha

Waiting for stray biscuits

We made mermaids!

Miss Piggy has this fascination with mermaids at the moment. Along with mermaid stickers on her walls, she has a mermaid DVD and a collection of eight shop-bought mermaids. When I mentioned we might make a doll over the holidays, she immediately jumped in with a mermaid suggestion.

So worth sacrificing my TV time to finish them at night -
she opened her eyes after I took this picture, looked at
the mermaids and went back to sleep with a smile on her face

We lined up all the mermaids we could muster from around the house. They range from tiny $2 toys to a Dora version that swims alongside you in the bath. We then had a look at patterns for mermaid dollies on the internet (here's one by Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls) but we couldn't quite find what we were looking for. Soooo with Miss Piggy's bossing me around careful guidance, I drew a picture we both liked and set about making it in fabric. She chose all the fabrics, helped to cut them out, pushed the sewing machine pedal when it was safe to and generally watched the whole process with anticipation and patience.

And when I'd finished one, of course I had to make her a friend. You know, so we could play mermaids together.

I made the red mermaid a wig which I later sewed on, the blue mermaid had her hair sewn in before I turned the project inside out for stuffing. Like the Wee Wonderful pattern, I sewed the doll in two pieces (body and tail) before stitching together and embellishing. I did most of the sewing by machine and it all came together really quickly. I'm looking forward to making one of these with my niece next time she comes to visit.

If you'd like a copy of my pattern pieces, please leave me a message below and I'll get back to you with it :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Something else for the bedroom walls - covered initial

I bought some wooden letters years ago with the intention of painting them for the kids' (then shared) bedroom. I just couldn't decide on what to do with them, so after several bouts of creative procrastination I gave up and put them away.

I'm going back to work on Monday, so in these last days of 'stay-at-home' parenting, I'm trying to finish up all those little jobs on my to-do list. I ended up combining two projects:

1. Do something with the pretty wrapping paper that our wedding presents (ten years ago) came in. Preferably something that can be hung up

2. Put something up on Miss Piggy's wall

It was so quick to do, I'm kicking myself that I didn't have a go three years ago when I bought the wooden letters!!! Might try to get Mr Z's done over the weekend. Ok, maybe not... don't think the time bank stretches that far!

Not the most inventive or original recover (I had images of 3D flowers and leaves leaping off the letter when I bought it) but it looks nice with those other wall hangings... well it will once I get them all straightened up :)

Less procrastinating, more doing... that's the goal this weekend. Wish me luck!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

Or, as I can almost hear my sister hissing in the background, "More to the point, what's wrong with you?"

My family always joked that they could tell when I had hung out the washing - all the pegs would be evenly spaced with each line of our hills hoist boasting a different colour peg. I had been known to go back and rearrange the washing if, for example, I'd come to the last shirt and had only one blue peg left, despite having several other non-matching pegs in my arsenal.

Maybe today, a teacher might have shook their head and marked my file "ASD". Having studied psychology at uni, I know that I do in fact have several other indicators that could be ticked off. But where do you draw the line between 'perfection to detail' and having an Autism Spectrum Disorder? And does it really matter?

I know lots of people who are 'red pegs'. In fact, most of my friends today are red pegs. If I could go back in time and tell the teenaged, misfit me anything, it would be that she is not so different to everyone else in the world. Eventually you will go on to find other red pegs just like yourself.

If you look at some of the important community building professions: doctor, lawyer, engineer, designer... aren't those jobs filled with people of the red-pegged variety? Isn't it important that they are articulate, precise and perfectionist in nature? For me, I'd rather have a tradesperson in the house with attention to detail than one with a "she'll be right" persona.

We are all somewhere along that Autism Spectrum. I for one, am quite happy that for the most part, matching pegs is about as far as it goes with me. I can put up with my sister laughing at my clothes line, sniggering when I need to leave an overcrowded shop, telling me about surprises that family members have planned so that I won't burst into tears an an inappropriate moment. Cos I know, despite the giggle-factor, she loves me for who I am - someone who cares about the small details.
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)