Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Confessions of a Guilty Mum

Warning! This post gets deep and meaningful - If you aren't here for that kinda stuff you can just keep movin'....

Normally I don't get too personal on this blog. 
I make an effort to focus on the positive aspects of my life and not to talk about the "ugly" parts.

Today, I'm going to talk about some not so pretty truths, not because I need a whinge or because I want your sympathy, but because I want to let you know that I don't live a perfect life and neither should you feel you have to. 
Woah! that sounds like I have some dark confession to make! well, I'm afraid it probably won't be that exciting but some of you may have been in a similar position to me or indeed be in that position now. And it's for that reason I wanted to talk about this stuff.

So. Here goes.

I do not have a perfect life, nor do I aspire to have one. Y'know why? 'Cause it isn't possible!!!! 
That's right, there is no such thing as the perfect life only a good life, or at least one that is perfect for you (which I think is the same thing).
Sometimes I read blogs of people who seem to have it all and DO it all. These women cook amazing healthy meals, sew their kids clothes, knit a jumper for hubby, redecorate their homes regularly, are dressed and looking glamorous by 7am, arrange flowers fresh every other day and are generally successful at everything they do. Or are they? Maybe some people are just great at everything. Maybe not.

I think that it's important for us to be able to speak about our failures, and to forgive ourselves for them. This is the most important lesson I've learnt from being a mum.

Forgive yourself, often and completely.

There is sooo much pressure on women these days to be able to do it all, and do it all in style and within budget.
And to be fair, a lot of that pressure comes from ourselves. I'm speaking from experience here people.
I've always been pretty high achieving in my own sort of way, so when my husband and I brought home our first child, a beautiful chubby baby girl, life got messy and so did my sense of self.
All of a sudden I was in over my head, and that little voice called intuition was drowned out by self doubt and other peoples opinions on how things should be done.
It seemed as though nothing I did was right, and in combination with lack of sleep, raging hormones and general frumpiness and lack of hygiene things got bad, really bad.

I was in a serious depression, but I guess I just assumed that it was my inability to cope with normal motherhood that was the problem so I just tolerated being miserable.

When my first child was 6 months old I became pregnant again, not exactly unplanned but not well thought out either.
So now I was struggling with a baby and pregnancy and depression. I kept it pretty quiet - my misery. I felt like it was my fault for being so weak and and such a hopeless mother and wife, so i couldn't possibly expect any sympathy from anyone.
And I didn't realise at the time that it could be fixed, I just thought it was my "lot". I hated waking up in the morning, I didn't want the day to start. I was anxious all day about tiny daily matters that should not have been issues, everything was a huge deal and was emotionally wrenching. It was sheer agony and some days I really didn't want to be "around" anymore.

I'd see these beautiful women with their beautiful families online, having a marvellous time just being together at home and living meaningful beautiful lives together and I couldn't even keep on top of the laundry let alone keep the house looking reasonable (or myself for that matter). I would compare myself to those online Moms just like a teenage girl compares herself to the airbrushed beauties on women's magazines, those heavily edited families where you never see the cracks, fights, burnt dinners and tears.
I just decided that I wasn't cut out to be a mother, that I should never have tried and that it was a character defect of mine.

I was a real bitch to myself

I was really mean to myself, now i think of it. And I expected that everyone else (including my husband) thought just as badly of me.
It took me so long to realise that I was suffering from depression, in fact my second child was about 12 months old before I came clean to my husband and myself and told him that i felt I was a "really bad person" and that I was sure that everyone else thought so too.

That was the moment it all changed. Making my confession to my beautiful husband, I realised that it wasn't me, it was an illness. A mental illness like depression or anxiety is no different to any other illness, your body's chemistry is "out of whack" and it needs adjusting for you to feel well again. I was brought up in a fairly alternative way and had always thought that antidepressants were an overprescribed Multinational ploy, unnecessary doping of healthy people who just wanted a buzz out of life.
I guess i was wrong. I am in no way saying that medication is  the answer for everyone suffering depression, but for me it was an absolute godsend. I am so glad I took a chance on medication, not only for myself but for my beautiful family who deserved a better, happier mum and wife.

Contrary to some thoughts, antidepressants don't make you happy. For me, they have taken away the agonising self doubt, the worry about every move i made or word i spoke, the intense guilt for no reason, the self criticism….the list goes on.

I have never been so happy, or comfortable with myself. I no longer am such a damn bitch to myself and as a result I am a much better person because I am more like me, the me I was meant to be and I'm totally cool with myself now, well almost totally :).

If you haven't ever been affected by depression you can not possibly know what it's like, but if you are feeling what I felt - please go and at least discuss different treatment options with your doctor because life can and should be so much better for you.

All the very best of luck to you

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Block G6

My first crack at a quilt block for the CMQG raffle quilt! Who thought curves could be so much fun?
Thanks to Crystal from Two Little Aussie Birds for the simple curved seam tutorial.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quilting Canberra

This week I attended my first meeting with the Canberra Modern Quilt Guild.
What an inspiring bunch of gals! I was glad to see that there is a mix of levels and ability amongst the members, as I myself am very new to quilting. I have been able to sew since I was quite young but I have never really learnt how to quilt properly. Hopefully I will learn lots from this group and maybe even teach some of the other crafty things I know.

We will be combining our skills to create a wonderful raffle quilt to celebrate Canberra's 100th birthday this year and to raise funds for the group to spend on educational workshops.

Crystal and Nicole have divided a plan of early Canberra into 64 8" squares, each one to be recreated in quilt block using a colour scheme chosen by the CMQG members.

colour scheme chosen for the first ever CMQG raffle quilt

Selection of stash scraps chosen for my block
On Thursday night we chose our segments from the map which we will be turning into blocks. We all brought in stash fabrics in the colour scheme and shared them amongst the group.It will be an AMAZING quilt when finished, and you will have the chance to win it! I'll post more details about where to purchase tickets later in the year.

I have chosen I fairly simple part of the map with a beautiful curve of Lake Burley Griffin in it.
I'm thinking of some tricky sewing to incorporate into my piece, but have to keep it quite flat so that the whole quilt top can be quilted without snagging. Hhmmmm, so many ideas, so little time......

Section of Canberra map and fabric with which I'll be making my block
If you are interested in joining the Guild and being part of this project please stop by CMQG.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Craft with Kids: Art Supplies

I thought I'd start sharing some of the fun and educational activities we do at our home as Craft with Kids posts.
There are a gazillion toys, games, computery edumacational type things out there, but sometimes it's the seriously simple things that they (and we) love the most. Not only do they love the simple stuff, it tends to help them connect better with their environments and develop their sense of self.

Art Supplies 


One thing my kids love doing is art (apple doesn't fall far from the tree really!), especially painting.
Make sure you allow your kids to use good quality art materials, it really makes a difference.
Good quality supplies create a much nicer finished artwork that will help to make your child proud of themselves and their handiwork.

Textas, pencils & crayons 


Purchase pencils, textas and crayons that are rich in colour and smooth to draw with. Some of the cheaper crayons especially can be very low in pigment and leave a waxy transparent mark which is not at all satisfying for anyone! Textas that have a specially shaped tip that can't be "pushed in" are great for learners. Try using watercolour pencils or crayons, they can be just as much fun as paints but less messy.

Paints & brushes 


Good paint brushes (instead of those nasty hard plastic bristle ones) give a beautiful line when used with watercolour paints, not a scratchy mark! Be sure to teach your little ones to care for their brushes by never leaving them in water and always rinsing them clean before putting them away.
Have a container just for brushes that they will want to use, get them to help make a label for the container or make an art roll to keep those precious brushes safe!

Purchase good quality paints (especially important with watercolours), but always look at the label for health warnings to make sure there are no toxic substances. I find that quality paint pans provide a rich colour but have much less potential for mess and accidents.
Student quality art materials are usually suitable for children over 3 years. Make sure you teach them to always wash their hands after using art materials and never put them in their mouths.
Always have a large jar of water with which to wash brushes between colours.



Unless your child is using watercolour paints, you can use pretty much any cardboard or paper to paint onto. Of course, the thicker the paper the less chance there is that it will cockle (go all wrinkled).
Use different coloured papers/cards. Try using the inside of cereal boxes, old envelopes, label paper (custom stickers!), rolls of craft paper. Have them experiment to see what the paint, texta, pencil etc works best on. Subconsciously they will be learning about materials science!
When using watercolour paints I always recommend using watercolour paper. It is expensive but if you purchase a large pad you can cut down the sheets into smaller pieces and stretch your dollar (pound or euro) further. You can also use blotter paper, coaster board, kitchen roll or even coffee filters. Any type of paper that absorbs water well will do.



You don't need to spend up big to get good quality supplies. You can purchase one thing at a time, or ask family members to buy them for birthdays and Christmas. Sometimes you can find good supplies at garage sales, opportunity shops (thrift stores) auctions and eBay. I recommend buying good brand name stuff. If your art supplies work well and you teach your children to respect them they will be better value in the long run, and your child will learn to love art and feel confident in making their mark.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Fabric Finds

I've been really lucky this year during my frequent bargain hunting sessions in op-shops (thrift stores) and recycling centres. In case you hadn't already guessed, I have a "thing" for textiles and I'm always on the look out for vintage pieces whether they be items of clothing or scraps from someones sewing basket. Here are a few treasures that asked to be taken home.

gorgeous blue & white geo pattern

The tiniest ditsy pattern I've ever seen, and it's on seersucker!

This incredibly fine starched lawn was obviously precious to the previous owner who saved every tiny scrap!

a lovely simple grey houndstooth

This one is beautiful! A hand screenprinted linen with magpies.

True vintage novelty print of young musicians. I love those drums!

Have a lovely weekend all!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Autumn Review

Now we are getting into the cold weather, I feel it's time to look back on the last few months.
I have been absent from this blog for much of the past 3 months due to a back injury that literally had me laid out for a great deal of time. Sitting at the PC to blog or design was more than I could take, so I took a break and healed myself as best I could.

That's not to say I did nothing. Here's a little of what our family got up to.

Ms. B doing a spot of sewing
 Lots of hand sewing has been going on here. The "clothes for mending" pile has all but disappeared.

I couldn't sew on the machine but I could still cut pieces. Here's a peek at my Granada star quilt for Ms. Ruthie.
Our wool, before and after carding, washing & dying.

 The kids learnt about textile manufacturing by processing some wool. We began with raw wool and used a pet brush to card it to remove burrs. Then we washed it by hand in warm water and woolmix to remove the lanolin. The colour change was pretty significant! We then used Turmeric to dye the wool a lovely golden mustard shade. The kids learnt so much from this exercise and have gained a new appreciation for natural fibres. Four year old Mr. L has even started to wear wool jumpers without complaining about the itchiness!

Ms. B's room makeover continues
 I purchased a beautiful print from the Wheatfield on Etsy for my almost six year old's room.
Artist Katie Daisy produces the most delightful watercolour painted quotes which are available as prints in a range of sizes. You can find more in her shop here.

Making Pysanky eggs using crepe paper dyes and wax. A family Easter tradition.

Just one of the stunning sunsets we have been having this Autumn.