Category Archives: Blog

I’ve been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award!

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Recently, the TailorFairy nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. This came totally out of the blue and I was very surprised.

Here are the rules:

  • Post the award picture  on your  blog
  • Tell everyone who gave me the award and include a link to their blog 
  • Nominate 15 more of my favorite blogs
  • State 7 things about myself

The TailorFairy is a tailor and a designer.  Her mission is to help people knit and sew their own clothes. Since I have recently taken up sewing, the timing was perfect. She has posted a wide variety of projects, including a number of “easy projects for beginners” (interestingly, the Colette Crepe dress was not on the list). I was particularly pleased to discover a post on altering a top. While she describes adjusting the pattern for a larger bust size, she walks through all the steps and provides pictures. I figure I can probably apply the same steps to reducing the bust size.

I haven’t read all her previous posts, but expect that the TailorFairy will be a go-to resource in my ongoing mission to become a better sewer. Even if you don’t sew, her blog is definitely work checking out. Thanks very much TailorFairy for nominating me.

The last step – nominate 15 more of my favourite blogs – is a bit of challenge for me. I am a self-professed blogaholic, but the one’s I often read are collectives (Art Bead Scene and Reinventing Fabulous) or mega-blog’s with very large followings and sponsors (not that these blogs don’t deserve recognition, but if you got 17,000 followers, you probably don’t need this award).

So I’ve put my list together based on blogs I follow and have recently discovered – yes, there’s only 7 (in checking other blogs about the VB Award, they’ve only 5 other blogs).

diaryofamadmama

oneheartsblog

Tulle and Tweed

Red Squirrel Mosaics

Windbent

likemymamasays

Welcome to my blog

Seven things about Me
– I speak French and English
– My favourite colour is purple
– I like dogs; cats not so much (very allergic)
– I ride my bike to work 7 months of the year
– My favourite book is “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” by Joan Didion
– I can’t stand Brussel Sprouts
– I own 3 pairs of red shoes

 Thanks again to TailorFairy for nominating me.

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Three reasons I’m glad January is over

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Weathered

Weathered (Photo credit: Jon Matthies)

We still have a lot of winter to get through but at least January is over…31 days that felt like sixty. Here’s my list of things that made the month seem much longer.

1) the weather – I love winter but -22 degrees one week and +10 a few days later?! Too cold to go outside for more than 10 minutes at a time and then freezing rain and inches of wet slush to wade through. Crazy-making and exhausting checking the weather channel every morning before I leave the house to make sure I’m dressed for the daily weather experience.

2) spring clothes in the stores – it will be at least 4 months until I wear a short-sleeve shirt without having to wear a fleece jacket over it.  I’m looking for long underwear and a heavy sweater, not flirty skirts and sandals. Even if I was considering a new outfit for spring, I’m wearing so many layers that trying things on takes forever. The few winter clothes that are still available are picked over and too big, too small or really ugly.

3) public transit – heavy winter clothes, crowded buses and unpredictable weather is a recipe for extreme collective crankiness. And that’s when the buses are running on time. Two more months and I can get back to riding my bike to work.

I’m looking forward to a few days of steady below-zero temperatures and several inches of fresh snow. I’ll put on my long underwear and warm socks and go for a long walk.

 

Unexpectedly unplugged…

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One of my goals for the New Year was to get back to blogging on a regular basis. However, I didn’t count on our laptop computer dying.

Computer troubles

Computer troubles (Photo credit: sermoa)

It worked one day and the next day, it wouldn’t start. At first we thought it might be the battery, since a little light came on when it was plugged in.  My husband and M trekked halfway across town on a Friday night  to the only store in town that actually had the right battery in stock, only to be told the problem was likely the motherboard.

I know very little about computers and how they work, but even I know that the motherboard is a vital part of any computer. So the computer went off to be evaluated. The tech did tell us that if the repairs ended up costing more than half the original cost of the computer, it wasn’t worth it. The computer turned out to be repairable, but it took another week to fix it.

During the first couple of days our computer was out of commission, I was a bit concerned about how M would react.  Most days, he makes a bee-line for the computer as soon as he gets in the door. But between the Wii, his Nintendo and his iPod, he kept himself entertained. Most nights, he actually shut whatever game he was playing down the first time he was asked (if I’m lucky, he’ll get off the computer after I’ve asked him 3 times – usually it’s closer to 5 or 6 “requests” before he complies).

Since my husband has an Android, he could still access the internet and his email. But I didn’t have access to my home email account, nor could I blog. I was surprised how cut off I felt. After M’s gone to bed, I’ll often check out what’s new on my favourite sites. Without the computer, I had to find other things to do. I finished up one jewelry project and started a new one.    One night I read two books (they were both short). I even went to bed early at least two nights.

So now the computer is back from the shop and all is right with my world. But just in case the computer goes on the fritz again, I’ve got a big pile of books beside my bed and a new knitting project.

New year, new goals

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New Years

New Years (Photo credit: Cary & Darla)

I’m having a bit of a slow start to the New Year. Between traveling and visiting family, we had a busy Christmas. It was nice to see various grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, but nice too to be back home, sleeping in our own beds. Once we got home, we spent several days tidying up the house, including putting away all the Christmas decorations. We put our tree up in early December – it wasn’t quite at the Charlie Brown tree stage, but it dropped needles every time I took off an ornament.

By the time the house was back into shape and we had food in the fridge, it was time for me to go back to work.  Not a great deal of time in between for much self-reflection.  I’m not a big fan of resolutions, as they seem to be more about quick fixes, than substantive or meaningful change. I’m not sure the bandwagon approach works – although the gyms are packed right now, most of them will be empty by mid-February.

After a week of mulling a few ideas over in my head and a long, lovely cross-country ski in the woods earlier today, I’ve decided upon four goals for the upcoming year:

1) Learn to sew – After years of watching my mother, I can sew a little bit, but I want to be better. Luckily for me, an independent fabric store recently opened and they are offering monthly sewing classes. I wasn’t interested in making a tote bag (Level 1) or a pair of pyjama bottoms (Level 2), but I did want to make a dress, so I signed up for the advanced class. We’ll be making a cute summer dress from a Collette pattern. I haven’t picked out my fabric yet, but the shop has a lovely selection of cottons that aren’t available anywhere else in town, except by mail order over the web. And the shipping costs on fabric are so high, that it almost isn’t worth it. But now I have a local source for Japanese prints. Liberty cottons and other treasures.

2) Visit my mother more often – while I see her every few weeks at the cottage during the summer, during the winter months, our visits are much less frequent. For one thing, she lives 5 hours away and for another, I always seem to have things to do on the weekends. But my mother has had some health issues lately.  One of my brothers lives near her, but he already does a lot for my mother. So I’m going to go and spend a weekend with my mother at least once a month during 2013. It means a little less time with M and my husband, but given everything my mother has done for me, it seems like a small sacrifice. I’ve already made my travel plans for January.

3) Meet new people – Maybe because I’m an introvert, I tend to have a few close friends. But as often happens, my current friends and I seem to be at different stages of our lives and don’t see each other very often. I’m pretty busy, but sometimes, it’s nice to go out for coffee or to see a movie (especially a chick flick your husband wouldn’t be caught dead at). Unlike dating, there aren’t any websites or services to help people find new friends. It isn’t easy to find people who you really click with. Since I want to encourage M to expand his social circle, I figure I need to set a good example and put myself out there a bit more too. So today, I went cross-country skiing with a group of people I didn’t really know well. I did know one of the women, but we haven’t seen a lot of each other in the last couple of years. They were good skiers and it was a challenge to keep up with them. But I guess I managed because I got invited to join them next weekend.

4) Keep blogging – I started blogging almost a year ago, on January 17, 2012. For the first seven months, I blogged regularly, but by September, the frequency of my posts had dropped off significantly. My primary motivation in starting blogging was to share my experiences in parenting M. While M continues to have some challenges, compared to previous years, 2012 was a triumph for him. Even so, I didn’t have a shortage of ideas for blog posts. But as I know from making jewelry and cards, the more I do, the more ideas I have. The reverse is also true and once my muse stops being a frequent visitor, it’s hard to entice her back. My husband suggested that I shouldn’t worry so much about writing something meaningful and erudite and just write. Good advice, but sometimes I get caught up in trying to explain the larger significance of a particular event or incident.

So for the next few months, I’m going to focus on writing shorter but writing more. I have a number of projects on the go, so they’ll be a few more Random Acts of Craftiness. I expect my sewing lessons will provide some fodder for a few posts. I’ve got a few more ideas for a semi-regular feature, but since I need M’s help with it, I need to talk to him first. Plus, M will start middle school next fall, which will no doubt be accompanied by a few challenges. And I’ll report back periodically in terms of how I’m doing in terms of meeting my goals.

So better late than never, here’s to 2013.

Busy…not blogging

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The last few weeks have been busy – work assignments, organizing the Bake Table at the school holiday event, as well as several evenings at the theatre (seasons tickets). As Christmas approaches, things will only get busier around our house. Not a lot of time left over for blogging.Part of the issue is that I love Christmas. I want to make cute little decorations and hang them all over my house. I want to give hand-made, adorably wrapped gifts to most of the people on my list.If I have to buy a gift, I prefer it be crafted by a local artisan. I  to ply friends and family with yummy handmade goodies. Forget UNICEF, I want to create a unique card for everyone on my Christmas card list.

Clearly, my expectations are completely out of line with reality. There aren’t enough hours in the day between mid-November and December 24th to get through everything on my “To Do” list. At least not if I want to work (an economic necessity) and still eat, sleep and make sure my kid gets out the door to school every morning. Add in the fact that I am not highly organized nor particularly disciplined. So it’s not a big surprise that blogging has come almost to a stand still. I have lots of ideas for posts, but I also have lots of competition for my time. Those cookies aren’t going to bake themselves!

It’s not like I haven’t been getting things done. M and I have made several batches of cookies – several dozen went to the school bake sale a couple of weeks ago and the rest are in the freezer, to be boxed up as teachers gifts and hostess gifts. We’ve dialed back from our usual 75-100 dozen; we’re up to about 50 dozen so far and we have more shortbread dough frozen in the freezer. Even though we’ve cut back on our baking, we should still have enough cookies to fill a shoebox for our annual donation to a local restaurant’s holiday charity dinner.

Thanks to a network of great craft shows in my area, I’ve made a serious dent in my Christmas shopping. However, the home-made Christmas cards are coming along slowly and I’ve only completed one craft project (and that was a couple of weeks ago). Our annual Holiday Open House is coming up soon and the tree is only half-decorated, the house is messy and most of the appetizers are still to be made. Plus, I think I’m coming down with the office cold.

Rather than run myself down for what I haven’t done or what I still need to do, I’m going to give myself the gift of kindness. I’m going to do as much as I can and not beat myself up if I don’t get everything done. Hopefully, I can avoid visiting the mall on the last pre-Christmas weekend, but if I’m short a gift or two, I’ll cope. Fortunately, the issue with my credit card has been cleared up, so I can do some on-line shopping and avoid the crowds.

I’m hoping to be back on a regular blogging schedule soon – no later than the new year, but I’m hoping it will be sooner. In the interim, I’ll be making lists and checking them twice.

 

100 posts!

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day 100

day 100 (Photo credit: bitmask)

 

I wrote my first blog post on January 17, 2012.  I had no grand aspirations, other than to chronicle my experiences as a parent of a child with multiple challenges.  While I felt like I had a lot to say about my life with M, I certainly didn’t anticipate that I could find enough to write about to fill 100 posts.

 

In the early days, blogging was primarily cathartic.  The two previous years had been a roller coaster, with some positive developments, interspersed with lots of calls from the school, multiple suspensions, meetings with school board officials and generally struggling to keep M safe and in school. M’s behaviour has always tended to escalate during the winter months – maybe too little sun or exercise. I was fully anticipating that we would see a repeat of this pattern last winter.  In the first few months, I was working through a number of issues that I have experienced as M’s parent – mental health, behavioural, and just the day-to-day coping with an alphabet soup child (his particular potage being ADHD, anxiety and anger management). In the end, M had a relatively successful year.

 

The blog has given me a forum for expressing some of my concerns. Less about M, but about my parenting. I spend a lot of time worrying about whether I’ve made the right decision or whether or not I should be doing more to support him. By reflecting on particularly stressful situations with M, I am able to get a bit of distance.  As much as I love my kid, some days are horrible and hit every one of my “I’m-a-terrible-parent” buttons.  Writing a blog post helps me process situations and cut myself more slack than I might otherwise.  Plus, blogging is way cheaper than therapy.

 

I have also used my blog as a way to push myself to be more creative. Making jewelry, cards and other crafty projects is a way for me to manage and reduce my stress. But working full-time and parenting doesn’t leave much at the end of the day. So while I know making a bracelet or a birthday card will help me feel good about myself . No matter what else has happened that week, I’ve used my imagination and created something tangible. But getting organized to actually do something has always been a challenge for me.  Not only has the blog given me a forum for sharing my projects, but I’ve  made things I never would have tried before, like a necklace for myself or a scarf for a friend’s daughter. I’ve discovered that the more I create, the more creative I actually am. When I am not making things, I don’t have many ideas. But making and posting a project or two a month keeps my creative juices primed. These days, I have many more ideas than time (no amount of blogging can make me any less disorganized or lazy).

 

Over time, I have come to realize that this blog has reconnected me to writing.  For most of my adolescence and into my twenties, I kept a journal. Plus I wrote short stories and poems. I’m not sure I was particularly good at creative writing, but it gave me a great deal of pleasure. My journals chronicled many years of depression and unhappiness and as I got older (and I suspect, happier), I stopped keeping a journal. Writing is also a significant part of my professional skill set. I didn’t know how much I really missed writing until I started blogging on a regular basis. I am still finding my voice, but my pleasure in putting of sentences and paragraphs together has been renewed.

 

Through blogging, I have discovered some terrific blogs. My absolute favourites are Reinventing Fabulous and The Blogess, both written with brutal honesty by women who are struggling with a myriad of issues. The authors of both these blogs are excellent writers (also published) so reading them is pure pleasure. Plus, reading other blogs is educational in that it helps me identify what works and what doesn’t. Mini-tutorials for the new blogger.

 

Getting to 100 posts has been an adventure. I’m anxious to see what the next 100 posts will bring.

 

Following her muse

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Geologic map California

Image via Wikipedia

My colleague, Julie, decided to skip out early on winter.  She has taken a sabbatical from work and is spending the next 3 months in California with her partner.  Not only does she get to wear shorts and sandals everyday, but she will also be pursuing her muse and working on her art – she makes really cool mosaics.  Check out her blog, Red Squirrel Mosaics to see examples of her work.  She is a true renaissance woman and also makes neat stuff like envelopes out of old calendars and a quilt out of old t-shirts.

Not only is Julie a great colleague, but she is also my technical support team.  In fact, if not for Julie, this blog probably wouldn’t have gotten further than my To-Do list.  Unlike me, Julie is an early-adopter of all-things technological (I’m more of a late-Jurrasic period adopter).  So when I started thinking about starting my blog, I went to Julie.  She got me started and was endlessly patient with me and answered all of my goofiest questions.  She was also endlessly encouraging and didn’t laugh at me, as I tracked my site stats (I’m a social scientist by training – we love statistics).

Julie will be blogging about her adventures in sunny California, so be sure to check back often and see what she is up to.