Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Twas brillig and the slithy toves...

did gyre and gimble in the wabe...



Minnie has a growing collection of toys in her cot and quite a few of them have been made by me. She has Miss Polly (from the first 'Softies'book), and multiple bunnies (from creating this little lass), an Owl and an Elephant (who escaped from the photo) just to name a few. As Minnie can sometimes be a little difficult to get to sleep (!), she was lucky enough to receive some of these softies as special night time gifts (or bribes depending on how you look at it).

One night when was carrying on a bit at bedtime she asked for mummy to make her a new toy - of course I said, what would you like? A Jabberwocky was the answer. Not another bunny or a cat or a doll or a bear. A Jabberwocky. Not a cute little squirrel or a dog. A great big scary creature that burbles in the tulgey wood and looses its head in a battle with the beamish boy.

'The Jabberwocky' by Lewis Carrol has been a favourite books in our house for sometime and Minnie has 2 great versions (this one and this one). Yes, it is a little gruesome for an under 3 year old but as we don't overly focus on the beheading, Minnie doesn't seem to get too troubled by it.

So the next day, between orders, I made the requested toy. I based it on the illustrations in this version of the book using only what I had on hand. I re purposed a few things for the Jabberworky - the hat is from a jumper I felted, the face and whiskers are vintage fabric, the body is from an old pair of PJ's, the tail is from a some quilt squares that never just much further than squares sewn together.




He is a little wonky and a more than a little odd. But the absolute best part of all of this is that Minnie loves him.

That evening Steve found Minnie in her room, sitting in the rocking chair 'reading' 'The Jabberwocky' to the Jabberwocky. Perfect.

Monday, 27 October 2008

the blue house - painting...

We have started the big job of repainting a number of rooms in the blue house. Starting with the most important - the playroom. The previous owners of the house, who I am sure are very lovely, had somewhat limited skills when it came to painting. Overall the paint work is a bit messy, with lots of hairs and brush bristles left in the paint work, drips and splotches on wood work and terrible colour choices. The 'blue house' blue colour is fine and as is the 'off white' in the main part of the house (still badly applied) but the orange/buttercup shades used in the back section of the house are not our cup of tea. Plus for some insane reason they painted the ceiling the same colour as the walls. The playroom is a dark room anyway so having the ceiling and walls the same light sucking colour makes it feel like a gloomy box. So we are painting it all - there will be a new white ceiling and some 'Whisper White' walls and a skylight to brighten things up.

I am a bit obsessive when it comes to brushes - buy the absolute best you can afford is my mantra. Go without chocolate or wine if you have to... And what ever you do, don't buy the cheap bulk pack because you will regret it when you spend 7 hours removing all the bristles from your walls.

I am planning to paint my sewing room at some stage and feel drawn to the gorgeous colour used by my friend and by the Mama herself. But the real priority in the sewing room is some cupboards or shelves. At the moment the room is far from calming and inspiring -on going in there one is not sure if they will ever get out.

The list of jobs around here is long and seemingly endless. The biggest job is an extension/rebuild at the rear of the house but this will have to wait until interest rates are 1%... So until then lots of new paint, new loo's, new curtains...

And of course, it wouldn't be fun if you didn't have a helper...

Thursday, 23 October 2008

6 weeks...


Todayit will be 6 weeks since Alice was born. 6 long weeks, 6 short weeks, 6 sometimes unbearable weeks. So much has happened and sometimes it feels like yesterday and other days it feels like last year.

For the most part I am fine and can talk about Alice without crying. But then there are times when I have no control over the tears or the quivering voice. Like at the gym when I was having my assessment 'have you been in hospital lately?' or yesterday at the review with the OB. Yesterday I think yesterday I was flipping between the controlled, sensible woman asking detailed medical questions and the distraught mother unable to speak.

The OB review was not all we had hoped. We were waiting on more test results that would ultimately answer some more questions about Alice. There were no answers. It doesn't look like they actually asked the questions. So we left sad and disappointed and admittedly a little cross.

The doctor said some things that perhaps he shouldn't have. He realised that and seemed to overly clarify his comments once my husband returned to the room. Nothing to kick up a din about but enough to confirm in my mind that many doctors have very poor communication and people skills. I have good friends that are doctors and my ex is a specialist now. My best friend and housemates from Uni are doctors. I am admire doctors in the same way I admire nurses and ambulance officers and judges and teachers and police officers. I respect them all because they have important, stressful and at times very difficult jobs. I appreciate that doctors are busy and that they have to remember a lot of things and have the awful job of telling people that they are dying or that their babies are dead. But I do not sit in awe of their position or their perceived status or take on their every, single word as being right.

Sometimes they are not right, sometimes they say the wrong things and sometimes they forget to ask the questions.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

And I am very lucky...


After my whiny post yesterday about not getting enough sleep, we all had a lovely sleep last night! Yippie. Of course I love her to the ends of the earth regardless of her trying sleeping patterns. Minnie also had an afternoon nap yesterday (admittedly I had to cuddle her and rock her to sleep). So we are all happy and full of the joys of life today.

I joined a gym last week. Its a new shinny gym full of lovely equipment and smiling people. I use to go to the gym, back before babies, but I was never a 'gym junkie.' I enjoyed working out and feeling strong and fit but I still drank lots and ate too much cream and cheese and did other things I shouldn't have. I have carried far too many extra kilos for far too long and after years of complaining, I have jumped back into it. Now there will not be any crazy dieting going on as I do not believe in it and ultimately don't thinks its healthy. All is moderation is the key.

We are very conscious of setting a good example for Minnie as exercise is so important and if it becomes a normal part of life, then it will be easy to keep up and enjoy. There have been numerous programmes here on ABC examining the new health problems of the future - obesity, diabetes, and stress. Given we have some clear genetic markers for all three, we decided it was time to do what we could to ensure we are here for as long as we can and to try and ward off some of these health problems.

So I have been getting up just after 5.00AM and heading to the gym, which is about 10-15 minutes away. Yep, its early but I enjoy that part of the day. I have always found it easy to get up early - to study or to start a long commute to work. There is something special about being up while most of the city is sleeping (or perhaps not, if they have a baby/toddler).

My time in the gym is really relaxing, under the sweating and grunting. Its the only time I have to myself. Of course I get to go supermarket shopping sometimes or to run errands but that's not my personal time. At the gym I can think about stuff and listen to my iPod and just be 'a person at the gym' for an hour. Not a mum. Or a wife. Or a grieving woman. Just a person at the gym.

Sometimes I think we all need to be just 'a person at the gym.'


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

sleep is for the very lucky...

evidence that Minnie can in fact sleep... Hong Kong

We have just had one of the worlds worst nights of non sleep.

Minnie started out as a terrible sleeper and some nights, she takes us back to that time to re-live it all over again. She didn't sleep for more than 5 hours in a row until 4 days shy of her 2nd birthday. Most nights she would wake every hour or two for a feed, a cuddle or something. She slept with us so as at least I could doze while she emptied my breasts every night. We were all permanently tired and given she was difficult to get to sleep in the day, we never seemed to catch up on our rest. At times I thought I was going to go completely doo-lally from lack of sleep.

So last night she was awake at 10.00pm and in our bed. She cried and carried on and I made regular threats of returning her to her cot (yes, she still sleeps in her cot as she is so small she fits in there happily). I spent hours awake holding her, moving her, patting her back. In these dark cold hours I think of Alice and find it hard to sleep anyway.


Finally Minnie dozed off but awoke a million times, perhaps because she is still a little unwell. She demanded to sleep on my 'boobies' so I was either flat on back and apparently woke everyone with my snoring, or on my side with Minnie lying over me. She was weaned in May after 2 years and 4 months of feeding but obviously still finds comfort in the 'boobies.' We were up and down as every now and then she would wake, scream and head to the lounge room. Steve just got kicked in the head and back most of the night. To add to this the cat was going mental and knocked glasses of water over on the bedside tables. Plus both Steve and I had similar disturbing dreams about the economy...

Ripper. Bloody ripper. Whinge, whinge, whine...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

ramblings from the veranda...

The blue house has a huge veranda that wraps around most of the house. We think the veranda floorspace may be in fact larger than the house itself. The veranda's were the one of the things we fell in love with when we first saw the house. We spend a lot of time out there, rain or shine. The orange chair lives out there, as does the piano that came with the house. Lots of chairs and cushions and mats for sitting on. Its where the painting and printing takes place as does a great deal of research from my gardening books.

As the weather is now really warming up, I don't think we will spend much time in doors at all.

Unless it has been too cool, we eat our dinners and lunches outside too. This salad, with Thai style dressing (I use oil, lemon or lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce and chili), went with the chili lemongrass chicken that is being cooked by the master bbq'er. Sadly none of the salad leaves are from our garden as we have only had the garden in for 2 weeks...

Since moving in we have had two lovely Sunday lunches with wonderful friends and family. Long afternoons of eating and drinking and sometimes loosing the odd toddler (he was fine - just busy in the garden...)

Today our niece, The Little Bear, came for lunch. What a hoot she is. We had some delicious salads from this great book and a lovely afternoon. Minnie has a cold and was not feeling too grand - she feel asleep on the couch after lunch. Minnie loves The Little Bear and was very miserable when she awoke to find that she had gone home. Lots of tears... But Minnie was happy to look at photos of The Little Bear in action.

And after a few weeks away, I am back in the sewing saddle with a few orders to complete. My sewing room is a nightmare but I can manage to squeeze past the mess to the sewing machine. I have a few new designs to list this week and lots more in my head waiting to get out!

I hope you all had a lovely week.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

alice's quilt...


After Alice was born and died I came home from hospital lost, sad and panicked. I didn't know whether to sit or stand or to run or scream. Amongst the million thoughts going through my mind I knew that I had to make something for our baby girl. Alice missed out on the handmade clothes, the bibs, the appliqued tee-shirts and the little blankets for her dolls and bears. She missed out on my terrible knitting, my printing and my not so neat embroidery.

The need to make her a quilt was overwhelming - I had to make her something. So I came home and did just that. I went up to my sewing room, carefully picking out fabric that meant something to me and to us and carefully cut my squares. I am generally a speed sewer but this time I was careful and pressed all my seams and lined up all my joins and was as neat as I could be.

I chose the Japanese double gauze for the inside as it felt like a babies muslin. Something that should be close to her skin.

I appliqued some mementos on the inside - some things that would be close to her, some things that had been close to us.

I worked on the quilt, hand binding it the next morning and finishing it throughout the day. I took it back to the hospital. I went to see our baby again to wrap her in this gift that I made. I wrapped Alice in the quilt with a small bear my mother made for me many years ago.

In some unexplainable way I felt calmer. I wanted her to be safe and warm and not to be alone.

Some of the fabric was new, some was vintage and some was recycled. There were stories in the fabric and they would keep her safe.

Monday, 13 October 2008

scenes from our sunny days...




Some photos of Minnie painting. What started as leaf printing moved onto hand printing and then onto big hand prints on my trousers...

We have more weeds than grass in our lawn. On the weekend we bought a lawnmower. A house and now a lawnmower - no mistaking that we have reached middle age.

The chair was a roadside rubbish find from a house just around the corner. Well actually 2 wooden chairs were. I was 'caught' taking the chairs by the owner, Jan. After chatting to me for a few minutes she took me into the house to see if I would like to have this orange chair. Jan's mother had just entered a care home and she was cleaning out 50 years of her parents life from the house. Jan knew our new house well as she played here as a child 50 years ago. 'Shame you weren't here yesterday, she said, as I had an art deco sideboard and some cupboards that you would have loved.'

Another day, another roadside rubbish pile perhaps...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

4 weeks...

This time 4 weeks ago I was in hospital, in labour. It was all wrong, the wrong year, the wrong month and the wrong thoughts in my mind. I should have been there in late January. I should have been there with a huge tummy and a huge smile. Not this time.

We collected Alice's ashes this week. A little urn in a little velvet box.

I wonder who makes these little urns? And the little white coffins?

I know people who had lost babies during their pregnancy and I know people who have lost their newborn babies. What I didn't know was that there are so many people who have lost babies. Work colleagues, friends of friends, friends of people I have recently met and a frightening number of women who I have found on blogs and websites all over the world.

I wonder how many women that I pass in the street carry this sadness inside? How women have this hole that they can never fill?

I guess it is a lot more than I could ever imagine.

Friday, 3 October 2008

3 weeks...

Its been 3 weeks since Alice Buttons died. 3 weeks and 1 day since she was born.

Today I received the death certificate. The birth certificate hasn't arrived. Death is a priority at the records office.

It arrived registered post. We thought it may have been a gift for Minnie from a grandparent or a forgotten order from Amazon or a returned-to-sender item from my etsy store. As soon as I saw the envelope I knew it was one of two things. Birth or Death - one of the two.

I opened it outside the post office. It was the certificate telling me that she had died. Telling me that she was never married, had no children, had no occupation, lived all her life at the same address, that she had two parents and why she died.

In their haste to get the certificate out, they made a mistake. It has to go back. They have to fix it.

Her birth certificate should arrive next week. I hope it does. For a few days I can look at that one and part of me can ignore the other certificate. I know that it doesn't change anything but it would be nice for them to tell me that she was here with us, a part of our lives, our community and our world before they tell us that she has died and will never be here again.