Thursday, January 28, 2010

Been Meaning To Mention . . .

Will Scarlet hat
Originally uploaded by davenjilly
these awesome hats I made for the boys for Christmas. I showed them the 1930's version of The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn a few months ago. It is one of my all time favorite movies. This semi-innocent act started out a huge Robin Hood obsession at our house. But seriously, how can you be Robin Hood or Will Scarlet without a proper hat? So the handmade holidays request of the year was medeival hats. I invented these on Christmas eve, and quickly hand stitched them out of wool felt -- this one is out of some purchased wool / acrylic blend, and Andrew's is out of an old green sweater. They are super awesome in person, and have already been out to the grocery store and to A &W. There are a few more photos of Flikr, if you're interested. Just click in from my sidebar.

Which brings me to something Kris commented about on my last post (and one of the reasons I rearranged things on the blog): I often quickly throw some photos on Flikr, meaning to do a full blog post about them later, but then never get around to it. So there are all kinds of odds and bobs over there that never make it here. The Flikr uploader is just a lot more user-friendly than Blogger.

Discovering Joy, Part 1 -- Where I Started.

So, as promised, I'm going to share part of my journey towards joy that has taken place over the last few years. What I've found is not really revolutionary, but rather those sorts of things you tend to forget, and need reminding of.

I realized I had lost my joy one January morning, as I was towing my boys to the library in a toboggan. Although this may seem like a simple enough circumstance, let me give you a larger picture of the scene. Andrew was three and a half, and Aaron was one year old. It was a mild January day, and I didn't have the car, but I wanted to go to story time at the library and get out of the house on the warmest day we had had in weeks. As I set Andrew down in the sled, he got excited and ready for the journey. He was perfectly happy, until I set his brother down in front of him. As soon as I set Aaron down, Andrew decided that he didn't want to sit and hold his brother. He wanted the sled all to himself. So he started to scream. I ignored him and started walking. We got up the road to an intersection and I stopped. I looked back to see that Aaron had stretched himself out, knocking both himself and Andrew over in the sled. Andrew was laying, stiff as a board, screaming. Being an agile one year old, Aaron takes advantage of our lack of movement to roll himself out of the sled and almost onto the road.

I prop the plastic grocery bag of books behind Andrew, hoping to support his back, sit him up in the sled, sit Aaron up in front of him, look both ways and cross the street. As I start down a less sheltered street I realize that although my thermometer says -10, it is more like -18 with the windchill. I think to myself, "These children live in Saskatchewan. They must learn to handle the cold." and keep walking.

I hear a "thump", and the screaming starts again. I turn around to see that, like dominos, Aaron has pushed Andrew over, who has pushed the bag of books out of the sled. The books are strewn about on the snowy ground. I stop to pick them up, and Aaron rolls out of the sled. I sit on the snow, put Aaron on my lap, and start picking up the library books.

I sit Andrew up in the sled, put the library books in front of him this time, and lean Aaron against the library books. Andrew complains the books are too heavy, and starts screaming. Aaron, fortunately, is happy and sits up looking around. It starts snowing. Not those soft, fluffy Christmas movie snowflakes, but the little, sharp ice crystals that are blown into your face by the cold wind. I stop to adjust everyone's scarves to cover their faces. Aaron flips himself out of the sled. Andrew kicks the library books out of the sled . . . and so it goes. All the way to the library. And all the way home.

By the time we are leaving the library, I am furious. I am screaming back at my three year old. I feel like shaking my one year old as I put him in the sled for the ten thousandth time. Tears are freezing on my red, windblown cheeks. I wonder why other parents can just pile their children into a sled, throw all the books on top of them and hike 10 miles through a blizzard and I can't even make it to the library and back.

Thinking back now, I wonder why I didn't just laugh to myself, realize it was a ridiculous situation, and turn around when I was a block from home. Why was it so important to get my kids into the fresh air and off to the library. Why did I feel like it was critical to their future well being to be able to ride together in a sled? What made it such an important test of my motherhood?

I didn't used to be like that. I have always been a fun loving, adventure seeking person. I chose my major in university because it was my passion (English Lit) and my minor because it sounded fun and had less reading than History (Theatre). When I was 20ish years old, my friend Grace and I took turns pushing each other, in a shopping cart, through all the drive thrus in town, just to see if they would serve us. I had a girl at work once tell me, "You don't drink because you don't need to get drunk, Jill. You don't have any inhibitions." I have always been known for my good nature and keen sense of the absurdity in life. And although I also have a serious side, it has never been a facade. I have always enjoyed finding the joke in the midst of the most serious situation, and savoring every moment for all it is worth.

But somehow, when I needed those traits the most, they seemed to have abandoned me. Motherhood had sucked all the joy, wonder and fun out of my soul. In the midst of a time when most people rediscover the wonders of childhood joy, I was grumpy, tired and fed up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Snow Day

The digging out was taking place, so we could stock up on groceries before Dave left.

For reference, Dave is 6'3".

The snow fort building started.

I took advantage of this

to do this.

I must say, I haven't done strip piecing since my very first quilt. It is very satisfying.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oh, Saskatechewan weather, how you mock me.

For three weeks now, it has been warm and there hasn't been any major snow. It has been amazing. Dave is going away to a conference tomorrow, for a whole week, so my friend Kym and her three year old were going to drive up and visit / help for the week. They were planning to drive today.

And so, of course, this happened last night:

Sigh. Its going to be a LONG week. With my luck, one of Andrew's two days of school this week is going to be cancelled tomorrow, too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My new years' resolution: Courage

My long time readers may remember a few years ago when I decided that my New Years' Resolution would be to find joy in my life as a mom and housekeeper.

Well, I'm feeling like I'm a good bit of the way there. After several epiphanies this summer and fall I feel like I'm finally starting to learn how to cultivate joy in my life. I have let go of a lot of my expectations for myself and my family that were stealing away my joy, and come to better terms with myself and the things I need to be joyful. I'll get to more on that in another post.

Now that I've started on a new path of embracing my strengths and trying to work with them, I've come across a stumbling block in the road: fear.

Many of my friends might balk at the idea that I am a fearful person. After all, I will move across the country at the drop of a hat. I will go up and talk to anyone on the street. I try new things and go new places all the time. I am always the first person to introduce myself at a party. Not only that, but I will speak or perform in front of several hundred people and actually enjoy it.

Yes, yes and yes, all of those things are true. In areas where most people are fearful, I have no problems. I love novelty and adventure and drawing a crowd. I feed off of the energy of creative improvisation and risk of any kind.

But I am afraid to phone and make an appointment at my doctor's office, because I don't want to trouble him with my need of a new perscription of ventalin for my very mild asthma. I have trouble asking a friend to drop my son off at school when its cold and I don't have my car. I don't phone my friends to see how they're doing because I feel like I don't have anything important to say and I don't want to interrupt their day. I always feel like the baby quilts I make and send to my friends are inadequate, and that people are saying behind their hands, "Seriously, couldn't she have made something better than this for us?" I so sensitive about others' opinions and criticisms of me that I don't do normal, common sense things in case someone might think badly of me, or get annoyed with me.

Not only that, but I'm afraid to show my strength and intelligence and gifts. I was one of those kids who was teased a lot as a kid for being the teachers' pet, the one who always did what she was supposed to do. I was the teenager who carried a sketchbook, a full arsenal of drawing pens and pencils and a novel to every class with me in case I got bored and was often done my assignments by the time the teacher finished explaining it. I was a bit like Joseph -- the favored youngest child in my family, who got all the stuff and seemed to always do the things that made my parents happiest.

Basically, I have always been different enough to be a target. I was the one the mean girls picked on. I was the one the type-A personalities wanted to be better than. I was an easy target for the rude boys. I was the one who seemed so confident and self-satisfied that people seemed to feel the need to "take me down a notch".

So, I learned to hide. I hid behind a particular persona of scatter brained incompetence. It said, "Yes, yes, I can do X, but I'm terrible at Y, and what was that I was supposed to do last Friday?" I played up my incompetencies and downplayed my accomplishments so as not to attract the attention of those who might feel the need to bring me down a notch. I would bring myself down a notch, or two, or three, for them. I didn't tell my parents about things I was doing well as an adult, so they wouldn't have anything to boast about to my siblings. I chose to fail, and to isolate myself, so as to avoid conflict and competition.

As you can imagine, the consequences of this are ridiculous. You end up at the hospital with an asthma attack you could have prevented if only you'd asked the doctor for your prescription. You lose people you wanted to be friends with because you never call them. You miss job opportunities because you don't talk yourself up at interviews, but instead downplay your strengths. You have no food that goes together into a cojent meal in the house because you were afraid to ask your husband if he had time to grocery shop the day before. You lose your confidence and start to give up before you even start.

So, Courage. Courage to ask for what I need from people. Courage to ask for help, even if I have to ask two or three people. Courage to offer myself to people with no expectation of return. Courage to be responsible and organized and together, even if it intimidates people. Courage to express my thoughts, even if they are weird, or esoteric, or show that I've been reading philosophy in my spare time. Courage to live my life to its full potential, remembering that I will be held accountable for investing my talents one day and that that accounting will be given not to man but to God.

This may mean, my friends, that my blog will change in more than its appearance. It might become more wordy and somewhat stranger and more scattered. Hopefully, however, it will also be an expression of my true voice, speaking out into the world, unafraid.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stash Sunday

Here is the first part of that Christmas stack you saw the other day.

First, there is this voile, part of Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks line.

It seems like a lot of people I've seen online are using this fabric for quilting. But I got 3yrds so I could make a blouse or skirt. This fabric has a nice tight weave and a fantastic drape. I used to have a blouse made out of a cotton something like this, and it was my favorite item of clothing ever -- I literally wore it until it started falling apart. I'm not super sure about the bright green, but Dave seems to think it will be fine. I might also pick some of the solid grey as well, becuase it is really lovely fabric.

I was a little short on red in my stash, so I decided this might fill in the gap nicely:

I was super happy to see these owls at I have wanted some since the first run of them came out a few years ago, but they had already disapeared by the time I decided to buy some. The yellow dots are, again, to add to my stash (they are a little more mustard than I had hoped) and the other fabrics are from the Meadowsweet line. I love these four prints sooo much. I have at least one more still coming, I think its the big orange flowers on brown. These might turn into a little floor/ stroller quilt for Emma. I haven't decided yet.
There doesn't seem to be a Linky up at 1/4 of an inch this week, so if you want to see more Stashers, check out the Flikr group here .

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hi, there!

As you can see, I've finally decided to wake up!
Aside from the usual round of eat - burp - poop - eat - sleep routine, I mostly like hanging out with my big brothers.

Seriously, who needs a mobile when you've got all this shiny plastic around?

(Let me tell you -- this girl is not lacking in love and adoration. Her brother's think she is fantastic -- especially this one)

Merry Christmas to me!

Merry Christmas to me!
Originally uploaded by davenjilly
Look what I picked up at the post office! First half of my Christmas present (All my presents were of the "buy your own" variety this year). More detail on Stash Sunday . . .

Monday, January 04, 2010

Like my new look?

I know, I know. I should be sleeping, or washing dishes. Or telling you all about Emma's birth story or my new year's reflections. But I have been meaning to spiff up my blog for a while now. I've had the exact same look since I started this blog almost 5 years ago (is it possible?), and I thought it was starting to look a little shabby. I have a few more things to tidy up (Like my ridiculously long list of labels, or the links to other bloggers that don't post anymore) and it will be all clean and shiny.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Doll Quilt Swap 8 is taking sign ups.

If you're interested, head over to the Flikr group for all the details. If you are up for making a great quilt and receiving a great quilt, this is a really fun swap.

Unfortunately, I have four friends having babies in the next six months (and one is having twins) and, oh yeah, I have to make a quilt for my own daughter too, so I think I should maybe concentrate on those. And sleep. Sleep is good. Rare, these days, but good.

I am so tired that I fell asleep in the bath the other night. Emma had been fussy all day and all night, and I passed her off to Dave, intending to have a 15 min bath. He woke me up an hour later.

Anyway, Doll Quilt Swap is a lot of fun and a great community of people, so if you've got the time, go sign up while you still can.