Lost, not found

I feel lifeless.  Just one blog post in June so far.  I’m finally not ill anymore but it seems as though I’ve been zapped of all my creative juice.  I haven’t crocheted, crafted, or stitched in days and it is a lonely and confusing feeling.  I am happiest when I am making and when I come up against a creative block, I feel lost.

I want to run away sometimes. Hide from life. I would love nothing more than to have more space. Space to create, to stash my fabrics and papers and yarns and hooks.  Space for my children to play, to stash their own treasures, to stop the cascade of toys that is currently overtaking my bedroom and living room and kitchen…

I have an oppressive feeling of being trapped. Of not being able to dig my way of this tangle of a mess I call my life right now.  Each time I feel I am moving forward, creating a plan of how to do great things, I feel knocked back.

I. HAVE. TO. GET. OUT. OF. HERE.

My kids are constantly fighting, screaming, jumping, pinching, whining.  Running amok like caged animals worked into a frenzy by their imprisonment.  I’m tired of being referee. And I’m tired of yelling. And tidying. And cleaning up mammoth messes. I have a collection of cleaning sprays and scrubbing cloths at the ready to tackle the endless finger smudges on walls and pen scrawls on the furniture.

I am a single mom. In every sense of that word. I single-handedly take on the job of mother and father, judge and jury. I am the “fun” parent yet also the one who has to mete out punishments.  I do school runs, parent-teacher meetings, grocery shops, doctor and dentist appointments, ballet classes, homework help, baths, bedtime stories, kisses, cuddles…  I don’t remember the last time I managed to eat breakfast before rushing out the door to get Emilie to school.

I’m not complaining, I guess I am venting.  My kids are what keep me going. But I’ve almost completely lost my sense of self through my devotion to them.  My name is Liam’s mum/Emilie’s mum/Zoie’s mum.

Who am I really?

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Five Minute Friday – Brave

Today I am participating in a freewriting exercise called “Five Minute Friday”.  You can read all about it here on Lisa Jo-Baker’s site.

The challenge is to freewrite on a topic for just 5 minutes – no more, no less.  You cannot edit, backtrack, or change what you have written. This is pretty much the whole point of freewriting, you see.

This week’s topic is: BRAVE

Here is what I wrote:

I have a little boy. He stole my heart. From the moment I laid eyes on that tiny bundle, snuggled myself against that soft, warm cheek, I was in love. Unconditionally and inextricably.  My boy is the embodiment of brave. Poked and prodded from just a few weeks old. Many nights spent on hospital wards. Endless lists of medications, supplements, tests, trials, and all that comes with being “special”.  Because he is special, in every possible definition of the word.  He never lets his challenges hold him back.  He is bursting with energy and love and kindness.  He minds his manners yet can also be loud, rambunctious or downright over-the-top.  He does silly things like hug random strangers and slightly embarrassing things like lick the shopping cart handle.  I once filled up with tears when he threw a tantrum in public until I realised that it was me who wasn’t coping, not him.  I needed to be brave. Like him.  He has taught me about myself in ways I could never imagine and I am eternally grateful that I can call him my son.

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And that’s it.  When I looked up at the screen and re-read what I wrote, I felt a tinge of pride.  Not bad at all.

I found it therapeutic and enjoyed the challenge of not being allowed to alter the words that flowed freely from my heart. I am notorious for editing, perhaps to a fault.  I find myself tweaking things that I wrote back in high school — now some 15 years in the past.  This was a wonderful exercise in restraint and I welcome it.

Freewriting is something I have come across in the many creative writing and literature classes I have taken throughout both my degrees.  But this is the first time I have used the technique as a blog post.  And I rather like it.

I think I will try to keep up with “Five Minute Fridays” — it’s always good to step out of your comfort zone.

Have you ever tried freewriting?  What do you think of when you see the word BRAVE?

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(credit goes to Lauren @ The Thinking Closet for inspiring me through her own “Five Minute Friday” post today!)

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Sew Sweet

Thanks to Ikea (and a small miracle) I am the proud owner of a new sewing machine.  I have to be honest – I am rubbish at sewing.

In junior high as part of our home economics class we were taught to sew. I actually produced a rather fetching red and yellow summer dress. I have since forgotten just about every basic sewing step. At the very least, I can thread the machine.

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I’ve found that online tutorials do little to help me – I just don’t get the concepts or terminology even with instructions loaded with photos.

So I simply wing it instead.

Today I wanted to make a little drawstring bag for Zoie. She’s 2 and storing treasures is what she’s all about.

I freehand cut letters out of felt and zigzagged stitched them to a Laura Ashley remnant I had in my craft stash.

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It was crooked as can be, but the letters stayed on and that’s all that mattered!

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So my stitches on the felt were manic, but the stitching along the top came out quite nice, methinks.

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I threaded some sheer ribbon through the top and voila, a lovely treasure bag, rather handy for toting around favourite bedtime stories.

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For me, this basic little bag was a trial in patience and a steady hand. If you actually would like to make one of your own, try this tutorial from the original craft guru, Martha.

With a little more practice I might soon get the hang of this! 🙂

Lalaloopsy bash

Last weekend I hosted a Lalaloopsy themed birthday party for my daughter’s 6th birthday. It was a wonderful opportunity to use my crafting skills and supplies to put together a truly colourful and creative event.

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The main party table incorporated a wrapping paper runner and the plates accented with flowers I had crocheted. These also doubled as quirky party favours.

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There were games of Twister and musical chairs and a chance for the guests to decorate their own paper dolls or foam pirate hats/swords. This proved to be a real hit!

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I rolled patterned paper into handy popcorn cones and fashioned a holder from a floral foam block covered in spotty wrapping paper. A bit of ribbon added the finishing touch.

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There were plenty of sweet things and a mountain of colourful cupcakes.

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I decorated a few round nesting boxes with scrapbooking paper and trims from my local fabric shop for a fun centrepiece. Amazing how far a little imagination can take you!

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During the run up to the party, I fell in love with the Lalaloopsy dolls and playsets. As a result we’ve amassed a collection of  5 large dolls, 1 little doll, 10 mini dolls, and 2 mini playsets.  Total guilty pleasure but my girls adore it!

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This has to be one of my favorite parties to date and the very best part, of course, is that the kids loved it – especially the birthday girl!

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A beautiful day indeed! ♥

Harvest celebration reprise

You might remember last year’s Harvest Celebration. I sure do.

This year things went much more smoothly.

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My newly confident Emilie, bursting with Yr. 1 pride,  sung beautifully with her class in front of a sea of eager parents wielding iPhones and Samsungs and Blackberries, oh my!

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My harvest contribution. Green beans in a can. My kiddies wouldn’t eat them but there are some grateful kiddies out there who will. I constantly remind my children to be thankful for what we have, never take things forgranted, and to share with others.

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My lovely Emilie wore a red flower that I had crocheted for her hair. Such a pleasure to see her smiling and confident! A complete metamorphisis from last year’s nail biting and nose picking 4yr old.

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Very proud of my gorgeous girl,  growing up so fast!

Kid’s Book Nooks

I have only  one essential requirement for my dream home:

A book nook!

There is just something about having a little place designated in the home where you can cuddle up with a good book and relax that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

This morning as I rearranged (for the millionth time) my kid’s overflowing book shelves, I began to daydream about finally giving them their own special reading space.

Here are a few inspirations I found:

Amazing nook inside a playroom! I love how the book shelves are designed to have the books facing out so that kid’s can easily choose what they want to read. (via)

A few colourful cushions and a crate full of books make the perfect no-hassle nook. Very simple to put together – a godsend for busy moms! (via)

The secret hideaway! Think converted broom closet. Two simple shelves and a vintage lamp to shed light on their favourite tales. Kids will love this tucked away retreat. (via)

Bright, funky, and undeniably cool! A cloud bubble nook which would be great for older kids, tweens and teens. (via)

If you love a bit of DIY, this is the nook for you! Made out of pallets, this space-saving nook would make the perfect weekend project. (via)

The “whole family” nook. This nook is large enough to hold a couple of kids or an adult and kid combo for bedtime stories. You could even divide the shelves into kid and adult sections. (via)

A skinny nook with a view. Perfect for a quick catch-up on your favourite novel. This is a great no-frills option for moms and dads. (via)

And finally — my DREAM nook! Two words = enormous window. Seeing all that natural light pouring in is making me giddy!  If I had a nook like this, I would never leave it. I would probably eat and sleep there and need to hire a nanny. Ah well, a girl can dream!  🙂

Do you have a book nook in your home?

Mastered!

So you remember that dissertation that was kicking my butt a few months back? Well it turns out it was I who did the butt kicking! Yes, I was delighted to learn a couple of weeks ago that  I earned an “A” on the most important thing I have written to date. The piece was a work of non-fiction which provided a glimpse into the tumultuous time in my life when my newborn son fought valiently for his life and the gamut of emotions during that period. And now, he is 7 years old, an absolute joy, with a cluster of special needs ranging from hemiplegia (a form of cerebral palsy), speech delay, learning delay, and the odd seizure — but he is still here, still my shining star. He defied all the odds and provided the inspiration for me to master this Masters!

As you can imagine, a whole lot of tears and sleepless nights went into this degree and receiving such a great grade certainly made the journey worth it. Two days ago, the university officially awarded me my Master of Arts in Creative and Cultural Industries. I am beyond proud!

Next up, graduation on 18th September — what fun to wear that cap and gown one more time!

And no, I won’t stop here. There is indeed a Ph.D. on the horizon….  🙂