About Me

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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cushions of Love . . .

and mountains of gold!

It's been one of the most trying weekends to date and it's only been watching some lovely things unfold beneath my fingers that's kept me sane.

I know of parents who dread holidays and long weekends and they're the natural parents to their children. I struggle with two days at home: this weekend we have four days at home and the strain is starting to tell. This morning I lost the plot completely and I'm sure you could have heard my voice at the other end of the street as I laid down the law to three unruly children. We even had a stint at the park, but it was freezing with the southerly wind starting to get going. Then we ended up at school for a play as it was more sheltered. There the behaviour wasn't any better . . . they tried a gang terrorism of another little boy. *sigh* I wish weekends were easier. So, I've decided that if the sun is shining tomorrow morning, I'm packing up a few bits to eat and drink, I'm going to bundle the children into a dozen layers of clothes and we're off to the Mount beach in search of shells and sanity. Keep your fingers crossed that we find some.

I wanted to call around to give Greedy For Colour some of the last roses today due to her cold but just couldn't bring myself to subject her to my noisy and terrible tribe. I'll call you tomorrow to see how you're feeling and if you're up to half an hour's chaos.
Tonight I'm out for a big night. (If you know me I can hear you sniggering as you'll know "big nights" aren't my thing at all.) My neighbour came over yesterday and she's offered her son to baby sit while I go over there for dinner tonight. The children are blissfully unaware of my fiendish plan as they'll be all tucked up in bed by the time my lovely baby sitter arrives. I can't even begin to imagine eating a meal without standing up through most of it, refereeing disagreements and without having to do dishes afterwards before falling exhausted into a chair somewhere wishing my evenings were longer and my days shorter.
I sound like a moaning old minnie today and I apologise. Only two more sleeps and school starts again. I'm sure I'll be a new woman tomorrow after my night out. Until then . . .

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One Week Down . . .

only seven to go.

Yes, we've survived the first week. Although, I have to be completely honest and say that I'm exhausted and am looking forward to post-lunch naps. I'm even going to make a concerted effort to go lay down and shut my eyes this afternoon.

This week has been a very busy one, with the added challenge of sorting out some damaged relationships, a death and washing. Yep, washing! I inherited five huge rubbish sacks of clothes from someone who has finally started to accept the status quo. They absolutely stunk and were in great need of washing. I haven't washed all five rubbish sacks worth, but been through everything and taken out just what we need to get through the winter. Nine loads of washing later and everything is almost dry and in the drawers where they belong. Whew, I have a feeling I may never get to the rest of the clothes.

Well, my cushion is almost on the home stretch, the children are in the conservatory making a real effort to play nicely and not kill each other so I'm going to get hooking and try my hardest to relax before lunch. Mmmmm almost sleep time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Crafty Girls . . .Cup Cakes

How much fun was last night? Sooooo much fun. I watched our professional cake decorator make gorgeous flowers and thought - oh no, another craft I'll be hopeless at! Well, they're not exactly roses (more like frangipanis and lilies) but they're fun to make, fairly easy and so effective. I believe this could become the icing equivalent of crochet!

This is the one I'm least happy with. But something like this would be good for a home birthday cake.

This is my next least favourite . . . it was the first of the flower I tried to make.

This one is getting there . . . the nossel on the icing bag was a bit big.

And my favourite of all . . . which was the second cake I did. I can't believe I made a frangipani. It's quite ironic really as it's my favourite scent and it's one of my favourite flowers (aesthetically speaking).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quote of the week . . .

"It's healthy to have a bitch with a friend on occasion as it ensures that one doesn't become too introspective!"


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A fabulous website

I've found the most fabulous website today with amazing patterns and supplies. The best part about it is that it's in US stitches so there's no confusion with double and treble crochets etc. Check it out . . . it'll keep me going for years!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The need for speed

With Mum away, I am quite rushed off my feet: I knew I was relying on her to pick up the slack . . . justifying it to myself that it was a little holiday for me before she went on hers. I'm not complaining about the workload (except for the dishes that still need doing post-post dinner) I'm just amazed that I'm getting the time - and the urge - to create. The guilt also got to me in that I hadn't got around to making Rogan a blanket yet. Not wanting to go out and buy yet more wool I've gathered up all my left overs and unused balls from other projects. Then, I got out the Happy Hooker book and decided that he'd get a crocheted patchwork blanket, made up of swatches of a variety of different designs and stitches. I've done three and am on to my third. I love the puff stitch but it's very thirsty on wool. I'm cheating a bit as I'm making the squares 21cm x 21 cm to make it go a bit quicker. Rest assured, there'll be plenty of good, ole, reliable granny squares in there too!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Never Look Back

I let myself do something that is, in my life, a cardinal sin. I allowed myself to imagine what I'd be doing if I had my old life back.

I was down in the pool, the air was freezing, it was raining, I was tired and Kayley and Rogan kept jumping all over me. I made them go make a lot of noise and splashes in the corner of the pool and took a moment to just close my eyes. Without realising I was day dreaming about what I'd normally be doing on a cold winter day.

As a rule, Sunday's were my non-contact days. I tried not to see anyone or speak to anyone. So I know that I would have slept in until about 10am in my lovely little flat and got up to do a bit of house work, washing etc. I'd have browsed the net for a bit, read a bit of my book, done something creative, had an afternoon nap, watched some delicious drama on UK TV. I'd have something wholesome prepared for dinner, had a hot bath with my book, got into my pajamas about 5pm, closed all the curtains, got the fire going and revelled in the bliss of aloneness.

Quite a different scenario from the one I lived today: and blatantly obvious why I do not let myself look back on what life used to be like. Yes, my life is fuller. Yes it's full of joys I had no idea about. Yes I am so blessed to have three beautiful, intelligent, inquisitive . . . and noisy . . . children. That's not to say I didn't love my past life either.

But . . . as with every difficult day, I have half an hour to myself once they're all in bed, then I go into each of their rooms and see them sleeping all snuggled and warm and know that the day is done, we survived and I still love them more than life itself.

Sugar Bowl Beanie

The tweaking of my beanie pattern ended up in a whole new remodel. Hopefully this works okay.

1 50gm ball of 8 ply wool, and 1 50gm ball of contrasting colour 8 ply wool. Tapestry needle. 5mm hook.

Abbreviations: Ch = Chain, DC = Double Crochet, SC = Single Crochet, sp = Space

Start: Chain four in main colour, slip stitch into last chain from hook to form a ring

Rnd 1: Ch 3 (throughout this counts as 1 DC), 9 DC into ring. Slip into 3rd of three chain. (10 DC)

Rnd 2: Ch 3, 1 DC into same stitch, 2 DC into each DC around. Slip into 3rd of three chain. (20 DC)

Rnd 3: Ch 3, 1 DC into same stitch, 2 DC into each DC around. Slip into 3rd of three chain. (40 DC)

Rnd 4: Ch 3, 1 DC into same stitch, 1 DC in next three DC, *2 DC in next DC, 1 DC in following 3 DC. Repeat from * until last three stitches, 1 DC in last three. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch (49 DC).

Rnd 5: Ch 4 (counts as 1 DC, 1 ch), 1 DC in same stitch. *Ch 2, skip 2 DC, SC in next. Ch 2, skip 3 DC, (DC, Ch 1, DC) in next. Repeat from *. Slip into 3rd of 4 chain. Tie off main colour.
Rnd 6: Join contrast colour. Ch 3, (3 DC, Ch 1, 4 DC) in 1 Ch sp. * Ch 2, (4 DC, Ch1, 4 DC) in next 1 ch sp. Repeat from *. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch. Tie off contrast colour.
Rnd 7: Join main colour. 3 ch, 1 DC inot each DC (skipping 1 ch spaces) and SC into each 2 ch sp around. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch.
Rnd 8-11: Ch 3, 1 DC into each DC and SC into each SC around. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch.
Rnd 12: Ch 3, DC into next 7 DC, * Ch 2, skip SC, DC into next 8 DC. Repeat from * around. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch. Tie off main colour.
Rnd 13: Join contrast colour. Ch 3, (3 DC, Ch 1, 4 DC) into 2 ch sp. *Ch 2, SC in sp between 3rd and 4th DC. Ch 2, (4 DC, Ch 1, 4 DC) in next 2 ch sp. Repeat from *. Tie off contrast colour.
Rnd 14: Join main colour. Ch 3, DC into next 3 DC, skip 1 ch sp. DC into next 4 DC. *SC into SC, 4 DC into next 4 DC, skip 1 ch sp. DC into next 4 DC. Repeat from *. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch.
Rnd 15-17: Ch 3, DC into next 7 DC, SC into SC, *1 DC into each of the following 8 DC. Repeat from * to end. Slip into 3rd of 3 ch.
Rnd 18: Join contrast colour. Ch 1, SC around. Slip into Ch 1. Finish.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My New Hat

I went to bed last night full of thoughts of mum leaving in the morning, of gorgeous crochet patterns and ideas of hats swirling endlessly. So, as you do, I got up, grabbed some wool, a hook, some paper and a pen and got started. I can't believe just how well it's turned out. I'm going to call it my Sugar Bowl Beanie as when I was about five rounds in it looked just like one of those ghastly crochet covers to go over a sugar bowl that my grandmother used to have.

So here's Kayley modelling it for me. It's a bit big for her, but you get the general idea. The pattern needs a little tweaking, but when it's right I'll post it. I'm going to make a scarf tonight to go with it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thank you Debbie Stoller

I've finally cracked it! I've been struggling with some of the trickier patterns in Debbie Stollers Crochet book and I've finally got the hang of it . . . by using her stitch charts strangely enough. Once you learn the symbols it's easy to see what you need to do, where and how many times. (Shame there's not a stitch pattern for life.)

This is a picture of something I've been working on in Debbie's book. Once I'd learned to read the stitch guide it just started coming together. It's going to be a short little cardigan for the summer and the only disappointment is that I can't wear it for months yet as it's freezing these days. If you want to check out stitch guides go here or here. You won't regret it!

The bedspread is out the window

I've had the most wonderful morning in consultation with my Colour Consultant. Mmmmm that just sounds good doesn't it! I thought I was going to sort out the exterior and, in fact, we discussed the colour scheme for the whole house. What a joy. And, most amazingly I totally suprised myself with some of the choices.

As a rule I hate wallpaper; now I'm having a wallpaper feature wall in my bedroom, in the entrance and in the lounge. Think bamboo for the bedroom. I know! It sounds crazy! Trust me, it's just gorgeous and I've been able to carry the theme through to my ensuite also. In the lounge the feature wall is going to be a grey/silver textured wallpaper. Again, I'm thinking the sound of it is odd but the sight of it is lovely. I wanted those two rooms to be escape havens of child free oases.
So that means that the lovely rose and white bedspread I had planned for my bed is no longer viable. It's just not going to look right with browns and greens so I'll have to dig out that pattern I have for a wave throw and create that instead. I've also changed my mind about cork tiles throughout the living area (it's a woman's prerogative you know). I have watched, over the past couple of days, and noticed that children continually play on the floor. While cork is warmer than wood or lino, it's still not that warm without the benefit of underfloor heating. Add this to the fact that cork tiles are at least $30 a metre more expensive and the area is HUGE the decision has now been made. I'll have cork in the kitchen and around the breakfast bar but the rest of the room will be carpet. I have a lovely friend who's going to love visiting . . . the carpet I've picked is so soft and warm: better yet, it can take being cleaned with janola if necessary. Woo Hoo. Can't wait until it's all done now . . . shame it's still four to six months away!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thank you Kate

A quick thank you to Kate who informed me that the Tauranga Knitting Shop had loads of four and eight ply cotton. I took a sneaky trip in there this afternoon after picking out bricks for the house. Needless to say, I came away with a full bag and empty purse. I'm re-starting the bedspread in the new soft cotton and, although I'm only half a flower in, it's going to be much better this way (not to mention quicker!).

What to do with the other four squares I've already completed and sewn together? I thought I might cadge some of Greedy For Colour's lovely vintage lace, sew it up both sides and make the toilet roll holder for a mutual friend who suggested the idea in the first place. I think it'd be a very humorous gift and would look perfect in Manchester!

To laugh or cry . . .

This morning I was busy trying (unsuccessfully) to make gluten free muffins from a gluten recipe when Rogan said I had to come look at what Janae was doing . . . NOW! I went over and looked down to see the floor covered in tissues, an empty tissue box and Janae merrily stuffing as many tissues as she could into her trolley. Her grin was so cute that I just couldn't resist taking photos instead of letting myself be annoyed that I'd have to clean it all up. I also reminded myself that it was a box of $2 tissues and was thankful it wasn't my box of expensive ones.

I know Janae has figured a lot in the posts lately and I feel bad that Kayley isn't featuring more; it's just Janae's time of life, she's just so cute right now and Kayley's cuteness comes more from what she says than what she does. However, I've made a mental note to keep the camera handy when Kayley's around too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mainly Music

Wednesday is our Mainly Music day and I just couldn't resist taking this picture of Janae playing her part in the Mrs Bunny song. The pink bunny ears meshed perfectly with her pretty pink dungarees. As you can imagine, the ears didn't stay on for long but she loved the sparkles and the fluffiness so she was quite happy.

Unfortunately there are no photographs of Rogan as he caught up with his pre-school pals and wasn't to be seen for the entire hour . . . until I rescued the morning tea trolley from him. He had climbed on the side, had two handfuls of biscuits and was trying to figure out how he could carry a drink also. He had the best time and wasn't clingy with me so I'm not complaining.

Crochet New Born Clothes

Well, I just couldn't resist making the whole outfit once I'd completed the hat. All I'm waiting for now is the elastic for the top of the pants and it's ready to be wrapped and wait for the expectant mother to arrive back in the country. These are new born sizes and they still are big enough to make my eyes water and be very thankful that I've ended up with three children without having to actually give birth to them.
The pattern comes from a book I picked up in Spotlight in Rotorua. I've searched through the limited number of wool stores here in Tauranga and haven't come up with too many interesting patterns outside of cotten doilies etc so it's good to know that a quick trip to Spotlight will always result in interesting things. My next project is going to be a white cotten cushion cover from one of the circa 1970 pattern books I found in my mum's stash. I've asked Mum to scour around the shops in Canterbury (England) while she's there and to raid all of Aunty Min's patterns too so I'm hoping that by August I'll have so much material I won't know what to do with myself.

I quizzed mum this morning and asked her whether she thought, having seen my work, I'd be any good at sewing. I know I learned in school and I can sew up something basic but I'd like to get into making some "knock about the house" clothes for the kids in the summer and, when I finish my cardigan I'd love to know how to put the zip in. As it stands, I've had a kind offer from Greedy For Colour to borrow her mother-in-law for the sewing bit as my mum will be on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hunger Pains

I had one of the worst starts to a day that I've had in a very long time. I got Kayley to school okay and then it all started to fall apart. Rogan got grumpier, naughtier and more annoyed with me and the world as the minutes wore on. We tried time out, we tried discussing the issues, we even tried losing our tempers. Nothing worked . . . until I realised that Rogan had been tempted by Kayley to go and play boats out in the conservatory and hadn't eaten his breakfast. With him in his bedroom screaming blue murder, I quickly pulled out fruit, bread, spreads and whipped up a very hearty snack. Within minutes of eating my chirpy, chatty, happy boy was back from the dark side. From now on there's a much stricter routine at breakfast . . . I new it was the most important meal . . . but not just how important.
The big break through - as I write this - Rogan has informed me he needs to wee. A small thing? Not by a long shot. It seems his brain has finally connected with his bladder and we're all go on the toilet training from. Ahhhh at last!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Puddles of Fun

Janae is such an outdoor child that she'll "escape" at any opportunity. Today the sun was shining on the big puddle in the middle of the driveway, created by yesterday's rain. Puddles are something she loves best about the outdoors. She managed to race through it with her trolley a number of times before the urge to just revel in it became too much to resist. Here she's loving the glory of a very wet bottom. Good on her for finding the joy in the simplest of things!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Treasure Trove

This morning Mum dug out all her old knitting patterns in search of a crochet poncho she wants me to make for Janae. Well, what a trove of gorgeous treasure dating as far back as 1964.

As I discussed in an earlier blog I am not really a knitter but I searched through each pattern, each women's magazine (with dates like July 1972 and costs of around 15 cents) searching for crochet patterns. I've found all sorts of exciting things. I've also found some that I will never make because, as much as retro is fun, it's not a look I'm going for.

I can't wait until the two project I have on the go now are complete and then I can start on something new and exciting. Hmmm, which to chose first.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Dig Deep Day

Today has been what I call a 'Dig Deep Day': It's one of those days where I've had to dig deep to find the will to do the smallest tasks; to dig deep to find the encouraging smile a child needs; to exercise patience with a child filled up with a cold and feeling awful; to say the I love yous knowing I mean it from the bottom of my heart but just don't have the energy to express.

As I hide in the mudroom I look back on the day and know that it's just one of those days and that tomorrow is a clean slate. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, knowing that I'll be well slept, brighter and more receptive . . . I'm just pleased that children love you whatever your mood. I'm determined that tomorrow we'll go to school for a romp around in the playground . . . they can have the place to themselves on a Sunday morning. Kayley can have another go at making pom poms knowing I'll have a little more patience to teach her properly. Janae can squeal and chatter as much as she likes because it won't cut through me like a blunt knife and Rogan can snuggle up and sneeze all over me and tell me how bad he feels.
Bring on tomorrow!

Knitting v Crochet

It's a dilemma. I'm one and a half sleeves and a collar away from completing my cardigan and the crochet keeps calling me. I've discovered that knitting just isn't my cup of tea. I'm doing it okay but it's not nearly as much fun. So last night, when I couldn't sleep, I couldn't resist the temptation of whipping up the hat of the little baby set I'm going to make for my friend's new baby. It was such joy making it that I couldn't stop until it was finished. Now I'm back working on my cardi, but reluctantly so. Ah well, another few days and it'll be all done and I can go back to the craft I've come to love!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Working Girl

It's a cold and wet day in Rotorua, but I'm in a lovely, warm office doing lots of important things. Well, I'm probably not doing lots of important things, but at least it feels like it. I'm back at Rotorua District Council making very long lists of work to take home and keep me occupied over the next month.
I must say, as I make this long list, I am mourning the time I've had over the past couple of weeks where I've had time to crochet, knit, paint, read and relax during the times when the children are having their afternoon sleeps. However, giving up that time puts me one step closer to my new furniture for when the house is built so I must not complain.
Strangely enough, I'm also missing the chaos of a day focused around children. I was there for the breakfasts, the rows over hair and teeth brushing and the lovely kisses and cuddles at school. But I've missed out on Janae's snuggles when I'm putting her to bed; I've missed hearning Rogan tell me he loves me $100 countless times throughout the day; and I'll miss taking Kayley to swimming lessons this afternoon. The upsides of today are being able to catch up with so many friendly faces. It does me good to see the smile on a friend's face when they see me and rush over to hear the latest 'kid' gossip. And the best part is that it's Friday and I'm going to join the Social Club for a quick drink before heading back to Tauranga. It feels like a lifetime ago since I sat upstairs on the balcony listening (and participating) in the laughter of work colleagues unwinding after a busy week. It'll do me good.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A night of bliss

One can never underestimate the importance of solitude. Last night I spent the night alone on the boat. I took my latest project - a cardigan I'm knitting for myself - my computer and a couple of DVDs. It was pure bliss. It's the first time in a couple of months that I've spent time completely alone. And best of all I watched a film that was though provoking.
Last night I watched And When Did You Last See Your Father? which, in all honesty, I chose because of Colin Firth. But, I went to bed afterwards thinking of my Dad. My Dad who took the time to meet me at the boat and hook up the power so I could run the heater, the computer and the electric blanket. My Dad who got up on the bow in the freezing wind to tie up the rope that whines across the bow in the night keeping me awake. My Dad who, over the past four months has always been there when I've needed him. While this might sound like classic Dad behaviour, my relationship with my Dad is very much like the relationship Blake had with his dad in the film. He felt like his Dad was never quite pleased with him, that he was always almost a failure in his Dad's eyes and that life might just be a whole lot smoother without him around. When Blake's father finds he's dying of cancer Blake starts to assess his life and finds that, yes his Dad berated him and his choices; he embarrassed him in front of people he'd striven to impress, he reminded him constantly that he'd wished Blake had become a doctor instead of a poet. However, when the crunch came there was a love there that surpasses or outweighs all the inadequacies, regrets, and emotional baggage we drag throughout our lives from adolescence and that, if we were smarter or more able to be self critical earlier in life we'd shed much sooner.
I think I need to remember last evening and try to teach the children how to be self critical, and how to shed useless and weighty baggage. They've been through so much, have so much more to go through and, on top of all they have now, they're going to have a whole lot more that I instill in them (it's inevitable as a parent I've decided). And I want them to have the freedom to say to themselves "ah well, that's who I am, like it or lump it" and enjoy that freedom. Wow, that's a lot to come out of one night of solitude.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Creative Success

The weekend is over almost as quickly as the week was. And this weekend I managed to create some things that are actually useful . . . well one was. Here's a pic of Rogan sporting the beanie I made for him and the scarf I made for Kayley. The scarf is more decorative than warm but it looks kinda cool. The hat is fabulous, took only a couple of hours to make and Rogan loves it. (He wanted to wear it to bed last night.)

Now I'm making a cardigan for myself. I'm going to knit this so I'm not holding out much hope as knitting has never been one of my strong points. However, I will just take my time and enjoy the process. Who knows, maybe I'll try another new craft once this is done. I must admit though, I've got a quilt three quarters made that needs finishing.
I'm going to try and find a quiet spot this afternoon and get to work on my jumper as Rogan's off to pre-school, mum's off to a ladies luncheon and Janae will be fast asleep. Ahhhhh the bliss of children who sleep in the afternoon. Long may it last!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thanks Dad

What a thoroughly enjoyable day! Dad let me know that he was incharge of running kids about today and that I should use the time wisely. That I certainly did. I've spent the day creating tiny flowers and things for Janae's painting and finishing Rogan's painting. I've had such fun.
I decided that the children need to be able to take ownership of their rooms in the new house (when it's built) and tried to find that one artistic bone burried deep within myself by creating them a painting each. Kayley's is inspired by her love of Bratz and bling. Rogan's by his new love of fishing with Granddad and Janae's was insipired by her love of digging in the rose garden while I hang out the washing (oh an my insane love of creating the smallest crochet flowers imaginable). I'm not entirely sure if I totally like these paintings or not but the kids do so that's the most important thing.

Well, another week has flown by. Kayley and I took a trip to our little library after school and as I write this she and Rogan are snuggled in the beanbag watching Little Mermaid. I got some time to look for some things myself and have discovered the most amazing book that I have to buy. Stich 'n Bitch Crochet the Happy Hooker is a brilliant book with step-by-step instructions to every stitch imaginable, a great historical look at where the art of crochet came from and amazing patterns. I won't have enough time to really go through the book while it's on loan from the library so I've decided I'm going to try and find it to purchase. It's one of those books that just has to live on my bookshelf and be thumbed through often. I intend to spend much of my time this weekend with my head in it (wet weekends can sometimes have a silver lining).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The success of morning teas

This picture shows the carange of a successful morning tea. The noise (I want to say cacophany, but that's pretentious), the laughter, teasing, tasting and trying to fix the coffee machine. Despite the inability to fix the coffee machine, we had lots of fun and I was exhausted afterwards. Thankfully, the gluten free carrot cake went down well . . . as did the 1970s recipe cheese ball.
One thing to come out of today is that I'm not a confident artist. I worry about the stuff I do as it's all stolen from other people's work. Apparently, according to those who shared the morning tea, there's not an original idea left so I'm not to worry about it. Hmmm, there's a novel idea - me not worrying about something. To all those I scalp ideas off, I apologise ;).
It's been a hectic day, and I'm a little grumpy this afternoon following a late night last night; however, it's almost over and I'm going to hide myself away in the mud room tonight having some quality alone time. I can't believe a whole week's gone by and I haven't really had any time by myself. Dad's been away all week so I've been hanging out in the lounge with Mum. That's all good, but I'm starting to feel a little like I've got cabin fever so, before I bite anyone's head off for looking at me the wrong way, I'll check out of life and check into my own space for a bit.
Here comes the weekend so sanity is a scarce commodity right now!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The ones I've loved

I was standing in the kitchen making a carrot cake for a couple of friends who are coming over for morning tea tomorrow, smiling at the enjoyment I get in cooking for people I care about and I noticed the plant I call Pat's Purple Plant. It got me thinking about those people I've truly loved that are no longer with me.

Pat was a wonderful friend who had a smile that lit up the room. She was my mum's friend really, but she was the most gorgeous lady. She used to give me all these little pearls of wisdom, some with a humourous twist, and always with a smile. Pat left us through Motor Neruon Disease a few years ago.

I can never hang washing out, failing to give each item a good shake without thinking of Fran. She was the mother of some kids I grew up with, and stayed a major part of our lives even after we'd all grown up and left home. She used to watch me hang out the washing with a frown as I hung wet and crumpled items from one end to the other. I still hang washing wet and crumpled, but always think of Fran as I do it. We lost Fran to cancer.
Every time I see Kayley swimming the length of the pool I think of Aunty Heather. The joy she'd get from Kayley's swimming and sports makes me sad that she's not here with us. As my Dad's sister Heather was another lady who had lots to do with us. Three years ago we lost Heather to a long battle with dementia.
And finally, raising my little tribe I often think of my maternal grandmother. She was mother to 11 children of her own as well as foster children and she survived. While I never knew her, I often wonder what she'd say to me as I'm ranting at the children, or charging around trying to do everything at once. I wonder what she'd say when I complain about how much I have to do with all my modern conveniences knowing she used to wash in a big copper, cooked over a fire and bathed her children in a tin tub. Maybe I should think that more before I moan.
I am smiling as I write this. How strange that those who come to me most often in my thoughts are no longer here; all are women; all had some pretty amazing hardships through their lives and each one maintained a brilliant sense of humour and the ability to keep smiling. This, in turn, makes me think of those women who are part of my life now. It's my goal to think of them often now while I can pick up the phone, drop them an email or pop round with a cake, card and cuddle. I don't want to wait until you're no longer here to remember how awesome you are!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I will survive

Yesterday I wrote that one of the things I worry about is how I will cope when Mum's away in the UK for eight weeks. Well, today showed me that it's not going to be any harder and, in some ways, maybe even a little easier. I had most of today to myself and I was amazed.

Having my own space got the motivation going. I had two load of washing out, ironing done, yoghurt going in the maker, a cheese cake in the oven, dinner in the crockpot and a walk up the road with Rogan and Janae . . . all by 11am. I was astounded when I sent the little ones to the sandpit and sat down to my crafts. They played out there happily for about an hour until a neighbour popped over for a cup of tea and a quick catch up. Then they decided that someone new to talk to and play with was far more interesting than the sandpit full of spiders.

I even got the courage up to drag the three of them around the supermarket this afternoon. Again, I was surprised. Kayley and Rogan did a bit of racing around like mad animals, but I gave them the option of sitting and waiting for me to get through the checkout or stand with me. They didn't manage the sitting bit for long. All good though, they came and stood by the trolley like i asked and behaved.
So at the end of a fairly successful day I realise that I will be okay and it's unlikely that I'll want to murder them within the first 24 hours etc. And, having my own house means I can do things in my way, my time . . . or not at all if that's what I want. I love my parents and I cannot imagine how I'd have got this far without them. They've been amazing about having us all under the same roof. I also know that there'll be three collective sighs of relief the first night the children and I are in our own house.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The small things

We were walking down to the pool this afternoon and the children were running through the autumn leaves giggling at the crunchy noises and imagining how big the pile would be if they heaped them all up and I remembered why it's the little things that make life great. I get so caught up in the big stuff: I worry about whether New Zealand should strengthen their sanctions against Fiji or just do away with them as they hurt the people and not the regime; I spend hours looking at the brick on houses I pass wondering which would look best on my house and what colour grouting I need; I stress about how I'm going to cope for eight weeks while Mum's in the UK. All of this is silly when you can get lots of pleasure from something as insignificant as some fallen leaves and children's feet.

So on that note, Mum and I are organising a mega girls' night. I bought Mum the film Australia on DVD and we thought we'd invite a couple of our friends over for a viewing while Dad's away. A few has turned into a dozen and I'm really looking forward to it. Drinks, nibbles, Hugh Jackman naked . . . it doesn't get better than that!

Now I'd better get on with the task for tonight. Kayley is making rain hats at school this week and she wants a couple of crocheted flowers for it. Pink one is complete, blue one to do. I'm sure she'll love them!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

and Sundays

A sunny day today confirmed my thoughts from yesterday. We had masses of sunshine and warmth and three kids who didn't want to leave my side. Of course there's always loads of good parks around here, and a local one does miniature train rides on Sundays so it was worth packing a little morning tea and bundling everyone into the car and off we went.

The real buzz from today came from finally getting in touch with my oldest and dearest friend; the one I've known since I was about five. The downside (there's always one) is that she's now living in Australia so a catch up isn't on the cards anytime soon. Of course she has the only grandchild in her family and her parents still live here so I'm sure she's back and forth across the ditch. Can't wait to see her. Does make me think about silly mistakes we make when we're larger than life and young. I managed to completely cock up my longest friendship on a very scatty, drunken friend I'd only known five minutes. Thankfully, despite ten years, I've got a chance to put things right. It's a life lesson that's taken way too long to learn.
Well, the weekend has been survived once again. I must pat myself on the back in dealing with a discipline issue today. I amazed myself at how scarily calm, quiet and unruffled I was dealing with Kayley's incredibly bad temper. But you know the thing I just love about children? They tell you they hate you, shout at you, call you names and ten minutes later they're in your arms, giving you a look that melts your heart and they can't remember anything about all that went before. Children are the masters of forgiveness and I must make sure I take on that behaviour because it's priceless!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rainy Days

I'm preparing for bed and looking back on today realising that I have a fear of rainy days and I'm not sure why. I have this notion that the children need more of my attention when it's raining and I can't direct them outdoors. Strangely enough, they're almost better to be around when it's raining. We got out a giant puzzle and put that together, and swimming down in the pool where I took the camera to get some underwater video of the two water babies (Kayley and Rogan). And . . . most amazingly . . . they played pretty well today. I'm thinking the mandatory family nap (including myself) had something to do with how cruisy the afternoon was.

I had to stop today and realise that I've had the children four months now and there's been not one day since Boxing Day that I haven't had at least one of them around.
Up until recently that's been a huge weight on my shoulders and something I just had a hard time coping with. However, I was chatting on the phone with our social worker the other day and she talked about how hard it is to raise someone else's children. I'd never thought of it like that, which is strange in itself. I realise now I've had unreaslitic expectations of myself. I love these three children to pieces but I've been expecting to have the same unbreakable bond that a natural mother has, or even an adoptive mother. That's just not our situation. While they're in my care until the day they choose to leave home, we still have their biological parents as a huge part of our lives; we still have all the trauma, hurt, disappointment, damage that they've been through to live with, deal with and process all while getting on with just living. That's hard. And it's okay to admit that it's hard. Understanding that is a huge relief and it makes it okay for me to have melt downs, and tears from time to time. It's okay for me to be frustrated and angry. Most of all, it's okay for me to be angry with their mum and their dad. It doesn't mean that I don't love them, and that they're not the most important thing in the world to me, and that I won't do everything in my power for them to have as normal life as possible. I guess it just means I'm human and that's perfectly acceptable. I know everyone else sees me as merely human, but it's come as a surprise to me ;).

Crafty Girls

Thanks to my wonderful friend Kate, I've discovered just how therapeutic art and craft can be. Thus, I've joined a little group called Crafty Girls that meets once a month at the local church. Now, I'm not a religious person so I had my doubts . . . both about my creative ability and the company: quodos to the girls, they are really nice, do not carry bibles with which they beat me around the head and it's soooo much fun. This picture is a result of my first session. Unfortunately the flas has taken away some of the effect but I'm still happy enough with it to hang it in my new house. This month we made wire wall art. I'm not so happy with the results of that (I've given it to Kayley) but it was still fun to make. The only down side is that, while working with wire I've cut my finger slightly which is playing havoc with the crochet. Mum's happy about that as it's slowed me down a little and I've got some time to do more chores now. Mike Kelly told me the secret of happy parenting is to forego chores and housework. While I'm never going to have the personality type to be comfortable with that, I can understand his point of view.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Introducing Janae

I had to include this video of Janae at Mainly Music. It's a couple of months old now but it just shows who she is. Janae's the cutest little thing in my house and she's also the loudest. She just loves music and sings all the time. I say sing, but it's more just the basic melody in baby speak.

She's just starting to walk now and was racing around the house pushing her little red trolley filled up with her dolly, a ball of wool that she stole from my basket and some of Rogan's cars. By dinner time she'd figured out how to go around corners. Perhaps this time next week I'll be writing that she's walking all on her own. I'm both looking forward to the day and dreading it: life will never be the same once she's walking.

Introducing Rogan

Here's my boy. He's the most beautiful, most cheeky and most loving little boy and I'm so blessed to have him in my life (even when he drives me to distraction).
Rogan's finally at that point in his short life where he's looking to try everything available. Where a couple of months ago he was afraid of everything, today he's ready to give anything a go.
The best thing for Rogan has been making friends with Hugo. Hugo's the first real friend Rogan's had and, while he's a little unsure of how these relationships work, he's doing okay and having a great time in the process. Thanks Kate for bringing Hugo into our lives; we're looking forward to the adventures the future holds for them both.

Introducing Kayley

The oldest of my 'babies' Kayley is the one who's seen the most, experienced the most and, of course, needs the most reassurance that she's a beautiful and fun and wonderful girl. She's the most energetic person I know and I'm sure she is living proof of evolution . . . she must have monkey genes in there somewhere in there as I'm constantly amazed at her acrobatics in the school playground.
The most wonderful thing to come out of Kayley's first four months living with Aunty Belinda is her new found love of school. She had a pretty rough start last year but this year she's coming along leaps and bounds and I'm so pleased for her.
The above picture is Kayley at her happiest. She's not only part monkey, she's definately part fish. What an amazing little swimmer she is for a six year old. I'm hoping she's going to be a triathlete or something, but gotta remember that's my dream not hers.

A recipe you must try

Last week I was searching the net for an easy chocolate pudding when I just had to go look at Marth Stewart's website. (I have this secret dream that when I grow up I'll be just like Martha.) I didn't find a chocolate pudding recipe . . . although I'm sure there's one there . . . but I did come across a recipe for a peanut butter and chocolate slice. My family fell in love with it so I had to put the link here . . . http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/no-bake-chocolate-and-peanut-butter-oatmeal-bars?autonomy_kw=chocolate&rsc=rf_result32
Try it . . . you won't be disappointed!

It's just been one of those days . . . one of those days when I've felt like my time isn't my own. Of course, living with the folks doesn't help; I just remind myself it's not for ever. Today I wanted to start the day with some baking but, alas, there was no flour so it was bundle everyone in to the car and off to the supermarket. By the time we got home it was all busy getting ready for Minnows, lunch and afternoon sleeps; home again for my own lunch and a quick breather. Being me, I had promised myself I'd mow the neighbour's lawn before they arrived back from their overseas holiday tomorrow so I raced around doing that. Guess what . . . finally got that baking done by 5pm. I have been a 'parent' now for just over four months and I still cannot believe how time consuming children are, how time just isn't your own any more and how frustrating that can be. But, I refuse to end this day on a moan! We play a game at bedtime called "My Favourite Part of Today". Today my favourite part was seeing Janae and Rogan wrapped in an old sheet while Kayley dragged them across the lawn, all three giggling with glee. It sets my heart alight to see how carefree they can be after all they've gone through. Thank you my three cherubs, you make it all worthwhile.