Sunday, October 28, 2007

November craft swap


One Hour Craft is having a November craft swap of JOURNALS.

Make or cover one and send it to your assigned random buddy. I've never been in the country / not studying / the mood for taking part in a swap, but I'm feeling ready now! I'm doing so much journalling lately its just the thing for me!

Go see Mia at the One Hour Craft link on the right to register.


Transition sucks. There's no easy way to do it really. You know that shaky, panicky, nauseous, I can't do this kinda feeling? When it all just seems too hard and you want to pack up your bat and ball (and uterus) and go home. It doesn't just happen in labour. You can come across it in all areas of life.

This week our youngest child finished school, Year 12 (after 13 years of school). We have now said goodbye to the whole school experience. Next year, for the first time since 1991, there will be no school run to make. We only had two children, so for us it was a relatively streamlined event. I have friends with 5 or 6 children (I do know how many children they individually have, five friends have 5 children each, one has 6 children), and just imagine how long it will take them to get over the school stage!!!

We decided to stop at two when I had a revelation about crossing the road. One day I had a 6y.o. and a 3 y.o. in a pram, and my blind 85 y.o. grandmother and we had to cross a busy road ... and I didn't have enough hands to hold them all. It seemed to me that was a sign from the universe. I had always thought I would want maybe 3 kids (I am the eldest of 4), and pictured I would have another one in my late thirties, but after that revelation I suddenly re-examined it. I had LOVED playgroup, being pregnant and breastfeeding but when I thought about it I wasn't sure I had the energy to do it again. Getting a little one in and out of the car seat, struggling with a pram, having a kid with colic, having another one with diabolical reflux and special needs - these things I was pretty sure I didn't want to do again. And I have never regretted the decision.

I am passionate about the importance of parenting, and I adore our children, who are now 21 and 18. Being their mother is the best, most rewarding thing I have ever done and I can't imagine my life without them. Even on the tough days, I am who I am because of them. I have also been lucky that their Dad has been equally committed to being a parent, and has dug holes on the beach, made campfires, cooked and cleaned, scored at basketball and tee-ball, made breakfast for years and been a great provider too.

So it is interesting, happy and nostalgic to find ourselves at the stage of being the parents of two adult children. They are each individuals, marching to the beat of their own drummer in very differing ways, both fairly non-conformist, not especially close, but supportive of each other when it counts. This is my new favourite photo by the way.
This week the older one, Patrick, sat in the audience (jiggling admittedly) as he watched his sister Stephanie graduate from High School, and he made all the right noises, and wrote a lovely positive message on her card. It was a nice completion of the education circle, including my two graduations in the last 2 years. His university graduation is a ways off, but it will come one day, and we'll be there again, supporting him and bursting with pride I'm sure. Steff has a work trial this week starting tomorrow which will hopefully lead to her first job, and we will ALL be employed. Hallelujah.

Our parenting experiences have been quite wide ranging, so that was part of my decision to become a midwife. I knew that parenting mattered, and that parenting really mattered with a child with special needs, and I had experienced such rewards from every aspect of being a parent to each of our two. I wanted to share that joy, love and reward with others, even through the tough times with disability and bereavement, because I know that each life has meaning whether for 4 minutes, 4 months, or 4 decades. It is so worth investing in that relationship with your kids. Every day I understand it better and better, as I help new parents discover their newborns, or as I see the damage done by fractured parenting and multigenerational dysfunction and disconnectedness. Its very sad to move from one room to another and see the contrasts in attitude. Every day, as midwives, we see the value of love in supporting families through transitional states of labour, newborn parenting, lactation and acts of faith in each other as human beings.

What a transition our own little family has made. We've come a long way, and we seem to be heading for/ ready for the next bit.

Did anyone say empty nest?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Catch up

Where has the week gone? I suspect a deal of it slipped by while I was a) at work on the postnatal / antenatal ward for 3 days, b) procrastinating/avoiding cleaning up my pigsty of a craft room c) watching romance movies (Love Actually, and The Holiday) d) Super-poking work people on Facebook (very low-brow I know) as well as e) spending the weekend just hanging out with my hubby and daughter.

This working for only 7 shifts a fortnight feels really slack! Having said that I was pretty pooped after the third shift and I don't think my brain actually completed the shift - it seemed to throw in the towel with about 2 hours to go and I was a bit vague after that. Thank God for afternoon staff with fresh brains.

I seemed to remember all the stuff about talking to women, and I'm fairly sure I did all my obs and meds satisfactorily, and I did a refresher session in neonatal resus. But by the end of a day caring for 5 women (3 primips incl. 2 x 24 hours post CS) 4 newborns (the other woman had triplets in SCN) I was mentally exhausted. I had forgotten half of what I had to do to get women discharged, and with the birth surge in this city getting women out the door is critical.

So...I've now done 3 (count them 1, 2, 3, that didn't take long) shifts as a registered midwife! Hope I start to feel effective soon! I hear from all my friends who qualified with me (but who didn't have a 3 month break after finishing) and they all sound so competent and self-assured, and they're working in Labour and Birth Suite (LBS) and I'm jealous. But ward work is a good place for me to be as I ease my way back in, some days very civilized, some days completely crazy. I'm sure I'll get into the swing again soon. And I move to LBS for 10 weeks in mid-Dec.

I did have one cute thing happen to me this week! While we were away in San Diego and out for dinner with El Zed and Dave, a woman approached me and confessed her lust for my bag - a little sweetie I like to call "The Ultimate Purple Bag" (see below) ...

made because I couldn't find a purple bag that made me go weak at the knees (this one did). Anyway, I wasn't keen to part with it there and then, but when I told her I had made it and planned to start making and selling more, she gave me her email address and asked me to contact her when I got home. I was dead chuffed. So I did contact her and she has now got back to me and wants me to make her an identical bag! And send it to her in Colorado!

Woo-hoo! A paid commission. And I haven't even started my etsy shop yet! Could I combine craft/bag designing and making/ AND midwifery - could I BE that lucky? (only if I pull my finger out and MAKE the bag).

Anyhoo, off to bed (dreaming of bags, bellies and babies)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Make-do, make, and do to connect

Well it is October 15th in my part of the world already and although I didn't formally register for Blog Action Day, where one should blog on something environmental, I will have a bit of a go anyway.

My theme is making do, a theme I attempt to subscribe to frequently. I am guilty of stash building but lately i have been trying to do it in a new way i.e. by shopping at op-shops and recycling fabrics, materials, haberdashery etc.

There is so much gorgeous stuff out there being (essentially) discarded and I am very keen on connecting with women of the past who were forced to make do before there was a Spotlight /Jo-Anne's store on every corner - and they created fabulous things that I am delighted to see, and using skills I long to have and would hate to see disappear from use.

So I love to recycle garments for quilts, dolls, costumes and bags especially. Nothing is more satisfying than re-launching a garment or other treasure in a new guise. Every piece has a story and I love to trace my connections and knowledge of the pieces. Fr'instance:

I made a set of bags (above, hers blue, mine burgundy) for my sister (in Melbourne) and I after seeing a pattern for a beautiful old-style gypsy carpet bag in a shop. I did buy new fabric for it at the time, but it evolved to become a set of bags using old and new fabrics, and haberdashery from the collection from a late friend of mine, dear Genevieve.

I wanted a pouch to use at work that was connected to all the women who had supported my dream to become a midwife. So it started with fabric from my 'sisters' bag, with appliqued hearts, and stitched while naming all my friends who had helped me along the way. Buttons for the sides came from Genevieve's stash along with a cord from her things to sling it across my shoulders.

It may not be visible that so much love and thought went into it, but I know. It looks a bit rustic, with deliberately frayed fringey bits on it, but that was to honour the warm fuzzies that went into it too. My sis gave me a midwife keyring that I kept in there too, along with a Buddha and a few amethysts I like, just for the good loving feeling they all give me. My bag, as befits a prototype is pretty shabby with not enough pockets etc, but I can't bring myself to change a stitch in it.

I was always getting comments about my beautiful pouch, so I made a series of them for the other student midwives who trained in our hospital. Bit by bit they came together, with some new fabrics and fabrics from recycled clothes - baby corduroy to jeans, to silk suits, some with fabric from my sister bags. Frequently what they needed to set them off came from the bottom of a box or pile long teetering and near forgotten, but holding the exact thing I was looking for, including another cord from Genevieve's stash in the LAST of her tins, just the right length and colour. I mentally blessed her and know she would be tickled to have contributed to such a collection. On the night of our final exam I gave them all out to my 15 friends, where each was received with gasps or tears as I recounted the stories behind each one.

I LOVED making them (I made 20 in all).

It was really great to see that these new midwives understood the connection between the women who had supported my journey, the women who had created things with their own hands over generations, and the midwives we were from that very day and all we had shared, and the women we attended as midwives...but then I knew that they would understand.

I still get a kick out of seeing them in daily use around the hospital. Some of them have gone with their owners to live in other countries, but I still feel connected to them.

I wish I had photographed the luscious shabby chic baby pink one I made last for one of the midwifery friends who is VERY pink and pretty (it was gingham and roses and baby pink corduroy). It was gorgeous, and so her. I also really like this green silk one, made from a full suit I bought in a little op shop on the island of Waiheke in NZ in 1999. I shipped it home for the stash and voila! Its gone to a really special, fabulous young midwife Kate.

So, is this post really about op-shopping, or recycling, or the greater environment? Or is it just about our own micro-environment, thinking globally and acting locally? And for me the thing to be saved is to preserve / save/ keep the connections within our own communities - whether down the street, in the workplace, between the hearts of like-minded people across the corridor or throughout cyberspace. Blogging connects us, through trivia and trauma, in potentially all aspects of our lives.

Lately I have been having a few blue days, deep blue really, and although I promised a craft post I wasn't quite in the mood. But today I went back to work after 3 months off, feeling quite fragile and unsure about my ability to tap my previously unending supply of compassion and enthusiasm. But the moment I walked in I felt myself responding to a (blessed) wellspring of love for my work,and suddenly i felt all bouncy and tiggerish and re-energised. Phew (just in time!). Nothing like the cuddle of a brand new baby to set you straight (along with the support at home from a concerned husband).

And now I have come home, I have the house to myself briefly and thought I should pretend to do a Blog Action day post....and it turned into this! Hmm, will it pass? Oh well its MY blog, and it is a bit about craft. More on my stash another day.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Spring in the Air

Dear reader

Please don't think I am going to make a habit of this but I have done it again. For the second time this year I have initiated...I suggested ... to my husband.. ummmm...voluntarily ... that we go for a walk together. I can hear your aghast cries of "Noooooooo, what were you thinking?" But once again it wasn't too bad. Sigh.

The first time was when we were in the Lakes District in England in August, and it wasn't too hot or crowded where we were and there were some Roman ruins I was hoping to see that he wasn't too keen on looking for ... but when I was holding the map and saw they were in the direction of a bit of wetland area as well, one thing led to another and I took a deep breath and said..."You may never hear this from my lips again, but shall we go for a ramble around the top of the lake and the wetlands?". Do take note that I expect fireworks and a public holiday to commemorate the event next year - August 15th.

Anyway, we went and we saw ruins - in a field with cows wandering about and cow-pats to avoid! Low-key but still quite thrilling for us colonials to see, you never forget your first time!! Followed by walking across some wetlands in a drizzle, through some lush fields and saw some gorgeous stonewalls and ducks and stuff. You know, very typical English and charming. All in all a great success and much enjoyed by my poor walk-starved husband. He was quite chuffed.

So, fast forward to this recent weekend when, looking for something nice to do together, I read that the Kalamunda Shire Council had organised a Zig-Zag walk (for the 8th year - clearly I had ignored all previous invitations). Said walk-starved husband jumped at the chance to get out in the spring air and see some Aussie scenery and wildflowers, and I felt that I could cope with being driven to the top of a hill and walking down for 3km. This is the view from the bottom of the walk. was delightful. We took our 18 year old daughter and my sister in law as well and had a lovely time. Not too physically demanding at all (my major baulk factor), beautiful views of the Swan coastal plain, lovely flora and fauna too. This is a leschenaultia flower - a rare example of blue colouring in nature.

The flowers and grass trees were gorgeous - see? The top one is a burnt out stump from a bushfire that went through the area last year. The lower one is a flowering spike about 2m tall and oozing sap to attract insects.
There were little displays set up periodically to break the walking so we had bluegrass bands, free Milo and massages, local plant displays, riding on camels, animal displays where I handled a carpet python (lovely), patted two joey kangaroos, saw a bettong, a black cockatoo, a masked owl and a barn owl, and also touched an echidna for the first time.

We had lunch in a small but very busy French cafe in Kalamunda and returned home with yummy patisserie for dessert that night. The organisation of the event was terrific. Top marks to the KSC for their efforts.

We had also been to the beach on Saturday for a wander and some lunch, and of course Don threw the body in at Cottesloe beach. We really do live in a gorgeous part of the world.

Stephanie and I sat on the grassy slopes and I read Harry Potter 7 to her (we're up to Chapter 9).

So....thats what happening in OUR part of the world. I hope to get some craft on the way this week and will post about that next time.

Update on the nails

Let the record show that Laura painted her nails with Rare Ruby - and they were FABULOUS!!!!! (and even the colour has lasted much longer than ever before - what a breakthrough).

These photos don't do them justice!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In praise of fingernails

In praise of what?

Nails, fingernails - you know those things that (theoretically) grow at the end of your fingers.

I'm temporarily fascinated with them at the moment because for the first time in my adult life I have them...well...long strong ones anyway. I am enjoying a brief foray into the world of (relative) talons!! See?

Mine usually break and split and peel and flake, but I have recently returned from a very long trip away from work, housework, dishes etc as well as day to day stress and lo and behold I have nails!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been back for 3 weeks now and my nails are still long and strong. Its as if some switch has been reset. You see I have a theory about my nails.

You know the saying "hanging on by one's fingernails"?. I believe it to be true, and for a long period in my life I could almost gauge my stress levels by the length/state of my nails. If I was down to a millimetre or so, or if they all broke off in a day I had a sense that I didn't have much left to hang on with or by. I was literally losing my grip. Looking back on this period I may have not been eating well due to chronic stress, or I could have been engaging in way too much self-defeating talk, but it is interesting that it has come and gone periodically since.

I do look after them (although not to the point of wearing rubber gloves for washing up) and I have an emery board in every handbag, in the car, by my bed, stashed at work, by the phone. I hate having a catch. Maybe its because I used to bite my nails until I was 12, really badly, into the quick and all, so i know I can't trust myself to worry at a stray splinter of nail. I have also bought at some time or other every peel/flake/split/strengthener on the market. However in recent years I just kept them short and the flaking took care of the rest to keep them that way. They certainly never strayed over the tips of my fingers. I have been at uni for half a decade, pounding keyboards, and working in the clinical area where I wash my hands many, many times per day and have to keep nails very short to handle women and newborns.

As I go back to work in 10 days time this state clearly won't last, but I am just noticing the unaccustomed pros and cons of having long nails. They click when I type, I can drum tunes on the desk, I can accidentally scratch people (including myself) and I am finding they impact on my ability to dress quickly!

Incidentally I am extremely intolerant of long toenails (shudder, skin crawling). I can't bear to have long toenails, but I know plenty of people who do, and even have them French polished!

Maybe that's what I should do before I cut them off for work. I should have a last indulge and get a manicure and French polish. I chose not to use any nail polish while travelling to be low maintenance (I rarely wear it anyway), but have been tempted by the idea of painting them for fun before 'off with their heads'.

One more shot of my very average looking hand with these nails.

Anyway...apologies for the randomness of the things that amuse me (sigh). I clearly need to go back to work. I have way too much time on my hands!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tinkering around the edges

Well I'm back at the keyboard again having made a few changes to behind the scenes things, and changing my photo at El Zed's request - she said I looked cross - and we can't have that!

This is the photo she requested; and it only took 11 goes to crop it and upload it, check it out and reject it, crop again so it didn't stretch and make my face look m-u-u-ch wider than it normally does .... you get the picture.

I am realising how hard it is to get online time in my house! I have two young adults and a husband competing with me, and I kinda haven't told them that I have a new blog as I feel a bit shy about it all. I also haven't worked out if they would be cool with their names being used and anecdotes involving them being told to the www so that will involve a discussion or two.

I have received a few encouraging comments already (thanks girls - I did get them after all) with ideas for posts and photos that could be fun. Topics may include my stash (is the world ready?), my UFOs / WIPs (how long have you got?) my reading lists (it could be very surprising!) and exhortations to bite the bullet and DO a second post.

So - in response to the latter request - see above text!

As for the rest - stay tuned!

(in response to hovering children "Alright, alright, you can have the computer now")