Posts tagged blogging
Blogging, 9 Years On

Last week marked the 9th year that I have been blogging. I started the blog as a way to keep in touch with my family in America as I was pregnant with Ellis.  With each season of my life, the blog changed and morphed - from documenting our early days in parenthood, to exploring my creativity, to being a crochet blog full of patterns and tutorials, to being a portfolio of my broad work, a promotional tool, to becoming a task on the to-do list of the thing I "should", but didn't necessarily want to, do.

Its that last evolution that I found myself in recently.  Dutifully I would write "Blog" on my daily task list, never quite making eye contact with it and hoping inspiration would strike so that it would feel less like a chore.  From the sparseness of posts the last few months, you can see how successful that was. 

There is a certain irony to the burden that blogging became - I purposefully  have never taken on sponsored content precisely because I never wanted the blog to feel like work - but it still did.  My head was filled with all of the shoulds "You should set up a regular schedule" "You should analyse your traffic to see what your most popular posts are" "You should create how-tos and tutorials to bring traffic" etc etc.  All of those things are undoubtably true, but the truth is having 100s of thousands of visitors a month is great, but it is nothing if you just can't face getting yourself to the computer to write.

And so, I took some time off.  I laid in bed and drank tea. I planned our veg garden. I baked up a storm. I played Uno with the kids. I hung out with friends. I worked 9-4 three days a week and only did work that would fit in that time. I spent endless hours watching swimming lessons. I spent A LOT of time on Instagram. I even let my domain expire, thinking I would just quietly let Slugs pass into the night.

And then yesterday, I stumbled across one of my favourite Mary Oliver quotes:

"Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it." 
— Mary Oliver

I used to cite this as my blog mission's statement - forgotten somehow in endless redesigns. With its rediscovery, I found myself back at my desk thinking of all of the stories I want to tell and the love letters to my family I want to write. 

In the last 9 years, blogging has changed beyond anything I could have imagined.  In those early days, most of the blogs I read told stories of our families or shared our makes with other like-minded folks.  We have moved into a world of aspirational lifestyles, DIYs and curated feeds - things I love, but very different from the personal tales of life that used to fill my reader. And as much as I love to read them, I have come to recognise that those kinds are posts are not something I do particularly well or enjoy creating.

They say that comparison is the thief of joy - and for me this is so painfully true.  Not because I get wrapped up in what other people have or are doing, but because I feel like there are things I "should" be doing. I try for awhile, then get so fed up, everything stops.

I feel like I should end this post with announcing grand plans of what is to come in this space for the next 9 years, but the truth is, I have no idea. There will be posts or there won't. There will be photos. There will probably be pie and gardens and the adventures of three not so little people. And making, always making.

Writing a Craft Tutorial: Top Tips
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Things just got meta.  Every time I write a crochet or yarn tutorial (and lets face it, I have written a fair few), it occurs to me how much work it takes to write, photograph and publish a craft  tutorial. Of course, its never the writing that is the hard part, but the photographing, the editing and the promoting that take up a lot of time. 

Why write tutorials:

One of the most common queries I get about writing tutorials is around whether its worth writing one when there are just so many out there.  My answer is always YES! And there are a number of reasons for why its worth doing your own:

  • You will have a unique take on what you are doing and may help someone who has never "cracked" that stitch or technique before.
  • Tutorials you write relate specifically to your work, especially if you are in the business of writing patterns (for free or paid), selling kits or writing for magazines. You can tailor them so they use your stylesheet, your voice and  act as a set up for whatever larger pattern you may be linking to them.
  • Tutorials create traffic for your site. Not only are How Tos great traffic drivers in and of themselves, but if you are going to link to a tutorial in a pattern, it may as well be your own. Don't give your traffic away!
  • They show you know what you are doing! With so many voices in the craft world, showing folks you know your stuff is an important element of standing out!

What makes a good tutorial:

The sky is the limit. Any tip, technique or stitch can be used for content.  I always try to link mine to upcoming or newly released patterns as a way of promoting both the pattern (or book) and helping those who are likely to be starting the pattern at the same time. 

Writing the Tutorial:

  • break your tutorial into steps, but not too many. Use your judgement, but in my experience, people don't like to scroll for days down a post.
  • Think about your audience - do they know the basic abbreviations? Do they know the basic stitches? In very beginner patterns, everything will be spelled out to the letter. In more advanced tutorials, I will assume people know how to: chain, double and treble crochet and know the basic abbreviations. It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae, but its usually better to link to a different tutorial than go into every single technique used in project.
  • Think through the whole of the tutorial before you start.  There is nothing worse than getting half way through and realising you started something wrong or don't have enough materials and have to start at the beginning.
writing a craft tutorial top tips

Photographing the Tutorial:

Basic photography rules apply here and getting to grips with your camera will help your make tutorials that shine.

  • Make sure you are photographing in natural light. 
  • Use a background that will contrast sufficiently with the yarn. I like texture, so rarely use flat painted backgrounds, but that is a personal preference and certainly against the trend of flat white or solid colour backgrounds. Coloured paper, painted wood, fabric and tea trays are all good backgrounds for tutorials.
  • If you have control over your settings, shooting at an aperture of between 5.6-4 tends to be  the sweet spot when using a 50mm lens to photograph your crafts. This means that there is sufficient focus on what you are doing, but you don't have to hike up your ISO to crazy levels. The size of what you are photographing and your lens will play a roll here, but try to make sure the whole of what you are showing is in focus.
  • Speaking of ISO, if you are using the photos only for your blog, you will probably be ok using up to 1000 - 1600 at a push - beyond that grain will likely be visible.
  • If you have one, use a tripod and a timer/remote so that you don't have to be up and down taking the photos.  I use my Canon 6d connected to my iPad - a set up I cant recommend highly enough. Working in this way also means I can edit them in bulk via Lightroom. I simply sit next to what I am photographing with my ipad next to me and work from there.  If you don't have that, a remote will mean you don't have to get up and down to press the shutter.
  • A tripod and remote also is helpful if you are shooting in low light - it means you can slow down the shutter so that you get as much light as possible without camera shake from touching the camera.
  • Thumbtacks, masking tape and blue tac are your friends to keep your bits in place when working on tutorials.
  • Experiment with the materials you are using, the backgrounds and the tools.  Certain colours (hot pink and red for example) are hard to capture and high contrast items can be hard to expose correctly. 

Almost all of my tutorials have been tech edited in some form by Joanne - usually they are modified from technique sections of my patterns, so I have the benefit of always having 2 eyes on what is going live.  However, if you don't have that, ask a friend or someone who knows something about what you are doing to have a quick read through before it goes up on your blog. 

writing a craft tutorial top tips

Making it live and shareable:

  • Make a header image. This should be portrait orientation and with a "call to action" ie, tell people what they are getting when they start reading the post or click through from Pinterest.  If you don't have photoshop, why not try PicMonkey or Canva to create your header images.  
  • Make a landscape image with similar characteristics for sharing on Facebook.
  • Make sure your images have titles that relate to the content - this means that when they are pinned, the subject comes through in the pin description.
  • If you use Squarespace, make sure you add a thumbnail image to the post under "options" so that its pinnable on mobile. 

There is no question that writing tutorials can be a ton of work, but totally worth it! 

Blog of The Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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When I started blogging in 2007, it was simply a way to keep my faraway friends and family updated on what was happening in our lives as we expected our first child.

Five and a half years on, it is so much more. Blogging is full of friends and inspiration and opportunities and community. I love blogging. Love it more than I really know how to express. I started Slugs on the Refrigerator as a way share the crafts I did with Ellis (and we all know how well that turned out), but over time it has changed with me to become what it is and I am now. I have met some of my best friends through this blog, I found a wonderful creative path that lead both to the foundation of Capturing Childhood, as well as my work as a crochet designer. It has become an integral part of my life. 

I love my blog and was thrilled it was nominated for the MAD Blog Awards. I know that I shouldn't put too much focus on awards and the like, but I have to say that the MADS are special.  In many ways they were the reason I started taking blogging seriously. In the first year of the MADS, I looked at the nominees for best photography blog and I thought "I wonder if I can do that". Friday night, I arrived at the awards, exhausted after 3 days that included submitting my manuscript for the book and driving overnight to London, never having met a single person in the room in real life. I am certain my deer caught in the headlights look was apparent to everyone. (Of course, after the initial shock, the event was lovely and a great chance to meet in person some of the people I have known only online.)

And then I won Best Photography and Blog of the Year.  Even now, I remain speechless and thrilled. What a huge honor and wonderful way to celebrate this last amazing year.  

Thank you.  For your votes. For your support. For reading what I have to say. I can't express my gratitude enough. It is a huge honor to be recognised for doing something you love, particularly when amongst the other talented nominees in the categories I was in - crafting, photography, and blog of the year.  Thank you. Thank you.

 

 

Just Walking

IMG_5919.jpg Rain or shine, we go for a walk everyday. 

On bad days, its only to the shop to buy "Mama Juice". On other days it is through the many paths that wind their way through the near by hills. Some times we find treasures and snails and feathers. Other times we are simply "on our way".

On the rare occasions that I have not made it out, I feel something inside me ripping at my skin. Kevin sees it, recognises it and bundles us into the car to go somewhere the minute he senses the beast awakening.

That is a good quality in a man.

What Happens on the Blog, Stays on the Blog

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Generally speaking, real life acquaintances who read the blog fall into 2 camps: those who never mention it and those who do.  And those in the second camp have a tendency to mention it a lot!  I have one friend (you know who you are) who rarely lets me get out a sentence before interrupting with "oh yeah, I read that on your blog".  Conversations with these people tend to be a bit stunted and awkward because of one simple truth:

My life isn't so interesting that I have a whole world of things to talk about that I don't write about here.  In fact, some weeks I struggle to find anything to write about, let alone bring into a conversation (which is obvious when you consider that last week I blogged about getting a new vacuum cleaner).

In these instances, I have asked friends to treat me like a person with short term memory problems and just indulge my repetitious anecdotes with nods and chuckles in all the right places. 

Up until recently, this was a fine and controllable situation.  I don't have that many friends that a quiet word didn't resolve it. Even other articles didn't really cover anyone I know in real life. However, last week an article about the blog was in the local paper as well as the local free paper delivered to EVERY HOME IN THE COUNTY.

Every time I have left the house for the last 3 days, someone has mentioned it.  "Nice article in the paper.  Every little bit helps," said the woman in the post office. "I think I want an aviator hat" said my neighbour, the truckdriver, to Kevin. On the street. At the grocery story.  The postman. The mothers at the school gate. Each and every time, I wince a little bit.  Not because it isn't fantastic for business, but because there is no hiding.  My life is here in these pages, the ups and downs, the successes and failures.  

When I told my mother about the article, she responded, "You know you have to be nice to people now," not because I am not nice (ok, I am mostly nice) but because I am the face of my business, more so than ever.

And so, if you are reading this and I know you in real life, lets make a deal: I'll be nice, if you promise not to mention the blog.

first stop the Alloa Advertiser, next stop Time.

 

And its not like I hide behind an enormous hat so no one recognises me...

I Seem to Have Blinked

...because there is no way possible my baby girl is ready for a big girl bed.

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But whether I want to believe it or not, Miss Georgia Grace moved to a futon underneath her brother over the weekend. The decision was quite sudden after she found a thrifted duvet set I'd bought and declared "Mine!"

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She is so pleased with her bed and every guest has been brought to see it.  She carries around the spare pillowcase. The babies are all put to bed about 50 times a day. When a bout of late night wakefulness caused me to suggest that she go into a cot, tears and sobs followed with her broken declaration:

"No! Me! Bed!"

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She's only been in it a few days, but it is alrady littered with her most treasured things. Baby dolls, toy cars, trains and every book she can drag up the stairs and into the bed.

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And as Ellis used to sleep with a 10in omlet pan at this age, we are counting ourselves lucky.

 

Folksy

You know when everything that can possibly go wrong of a morning, does?  Well, that is currently the situation here at HGHG.  And so, I am going to turn off the computer this morning and head out into the wilds of Clackmannanshire for the eating and discussing of cake. Its a hard job, but someone has to do it.

But if you feel you can't get through your day without knowing a bit more about me (rolls eyes), check out Folksy's blog for an interview.  I am also Folksy's featured seller this week!!  Very exciting...

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Yarn 'N' Stuff

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If I had to pin down the 2 questions I get asked the most they would be:

1."How do you do it all?" and

2."What yarn do you use?"

The answer to number 1 is quite simple:: I do not do laundry or vacuum, but the answer to question number 2 takes a bit more explaining.

Finding the right yarn for the Etsy and Folksy shops has been a bit of a challenge.  I tried a number of different weights and brands of wool, but really sruggled to source options that met my standards for quality, affordability and colour. Plus, with the amount of handmade goods I produce, heavier weight yarns are a necessity to get through the orders in a timely fashion and the UK is a DK nation.

I tried a ton of yarns...ordering samples of most every commercially available chunky yarn in the UK (ok, that may be an exaggeration, but I did order the samples I was recommended on Facebook).  It seemed like everything I tried would hit one target but not others.  Cascade 220 has a great range of colours and wears well, but I was unsure of its wearability for newborns and its thinness. Wendy Merino Chunky was lovely and soft, as well as reletively affordable, but the colours are too limited and muted. The same goes for King Cole's equivilant.  Texere's chunky wool has beautiful colours and a great twist and bounce to it, but is soooo scratchy, I couldn't see many baldy babies being comfortable.

For a long time I was a bit of a yarn snob of the "I just can't work with acrylic" variety. This lasted until 2 things happened-- number 1: my money ran out and number 2: my children beat the heck out of some lovely and expensive single ply merino, resulting in a sticky felted mess that looked worse when washed. 100& acrylic still gives me the heeby-jeebies, I must admit...its the squeaking on my crochet hook that puts me off. However, I've found that with the wool content high enough, the acrylic element is hardly noticeable.  

Ultimately, I have settled on 3 main yarns for my hats: Wendy Mode Chunky and Ice Yarn's Bellone, with a bit of Paton's Shadow Tweed thrown in. All 3 are about 50%wool.

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The range of colours in Wendy Mode Chunky is great. They have really expanded this recently and offer a good range of basic colours, as well as some unexpected ones. Another bonus it that it wears really well, there is still a bit of pilling from heavy use (for  example on Es slippers), but not nearly as much as many other chunky yarns I tried.  It is a very soft yarn, being 50% merino, so I am happy to make items for the newest of babies.  Another bonus is that my local store sells the yarn for those last minute dashes.

Another recent discovery is Yarn Paradise/Ice Yarns.  They are a huge yarn distributor in Turkey who offer balls of wool at ridiculously low prices.  Given this, I find the quality good.  I have recently started using their Bellone Chunky/Bulky weight for a few items and I must say I am impressed.  It is a single ply chunky with low twist, but it holds up extremely well to wear and tear and blocks up very soft. Their postage is expensive, but it still works out at very good value and they ship faster than many UK suppliers I deal with, with yarn arriving in 2 days.

For the owl hat and the mane of the lion, I use Patons Shadow Tweed.  I love this yarn.  It is so nice to work with and each ball has such a lovely range of colours.  It is single ply as well, and again holds up remarkably well to heavy use.  I live in fear of this yarn being discontinued as I feel it really makes both of those designs, adding depth and richness to the Lion's mane and the Owl.

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Ok, geekery over.  I'm going to do something cool.  Like floss or read my new book about knitwear design.

Morning Person?

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When I was little, I was the ultimate morning person.  I used to wake up at 3am, ready to start the day.  According to my mother, I would play quietly by myself until the rest of the house joined me. I loved mornings.  My favourite thing was to watch the National Anthem on the TV as they started programming for the day. I remembering shivering in anticipation as the clock ticked closer and closer to the moment when the American flag would wave on the screen and "Oh say can you see" would play.  Wasn't I special, I would think, that I was up before everyone else...before even the TV woke up.

Some time in the last few years, mornings have become loathed and dreaded.  Waking up well before 5am to the sounds of "MUMMY! COME ON!" or having a 4 year old lean over me, breathing heavily into my face as I sleep, are not the sun salutations with which I would like to greet the day.

A lot happens in our house before 8am...breakfast and second breakfast, cartoons, races, grumping, lego, drawing, emails, getting dressed, laundry, coffee and more coffee.

Maybe if we started singing the National Anthem, I'd be more pleasant about it all...

 

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like

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Winter is upon us. The mild excitement that had surrounded us about Christmas has reached a sort of frenzy. 

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 It was the snow that tipped us over the edge.  For a 4 year old that thinks that tomorrow is a life time away - 3 weeks until Christmas is just too far.

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The Christmas tree had been put up the night before and when this lightest of white slushy wetness stuck to the hills, that was it.  In his mind, Christmas must be here...as if the frosting on the hills was the final puzzle piece to fit into place. 

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The waiting is hard, but we fill our days with lots of Christmassy activities. On order today - salt dough ornaments and maybe popcorn strings.  Keeping him occupied until the day arrives, all the while proceeding with our own preparations: hats and photos and gifts and orders. 

And for now, we have snow. And deadlines and preparations and snow.

 

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And doesn't Richard the Behaviour Modification Elf seems very pleased with it as well...

To The Beach

Saturday was one of those days where nothing got done, no one could get along and then ended with tears for 3 out of 4 of us. And so, when Sunday dawned bright and warm (ish), there was just one thing to do...go the place where we are all our best.

 

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Rather than our usual haunt, we headed to the John Muir Country Park on the East coast...and it was just gorgeous.  Highly, highly recommend this stretch of beach and general area for things to do...play park, huge adventure farm thing, pick your own berry farm.  But for us, there is really only one draw:

to the beach
It never ceases to amaze me how the near constant demands that a 4 year old, 1 year old, and 4 month old place upon us when we are in the house fall almost completely silent as they play and explore the seaside.  
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Even the Theo-bug who is in the "I CAN NOT BE PUT DOWN" phase of babyhood, was happy just to lay on the (made my me 10 minutes before we left the house) picnic blanket, look up at the clouds and accept visitors as and when.

Theo Love
But mostly they played and Ellis realised his lifelong dream of "building a sandcastle with a moat and a river to the sea"...surprisingly hard to accomplish with a 1 year old sister who is hell bent on destruction.
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As we left, I my mind travelled to a life where we could head to the beach every day...and of course in a place where such adventures could be met by packing less clothes, instead of more and iced tea, instead of hot cocoa.

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Now, That Was Awesome

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Of course, there were inherent lessons about colour theory.

Naturally, there was experiments in viscosity.

Sure, there were discusions about smells and diffusion.

But really, it was just awesome to get naked and paint in the shower with food colouring and shaving foam* and then pretend he was a monster.  

Even better? He pretended to be a fireman and hosed the whole shower down afterwards.

Awesome**.

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* idea from here via pinterest

** I've begun using the word "awesome" with increasing frequency. Its possibly a sign of my mental decay. Or a deep connection to my Americanness. Or maybe because its just a good word. Awesome.  Though, if I start using "dude" too much, please send help.  

 

 

The Playroom

I love looking in people's windows.  In winter the sun sets so early that people often leave their curtains open after dark.  One of my greatest pleasures has always been catching glimpses of ther homes and their lives through the brightly lit glass.  Nothing seedy or creepy, just good old fashioned nosiness.  

At some point every day, I am grateful for finding this house. While I loved the old place, the size and space of our new home is nothing short of a miracle.  Spaces for each of us, places to put things...simple things, but huge luxuries when we lived without for so long. 

 

Playroom

Perhaps the greatest luxury is to have a space like this just for the children...just for play. They love having their own room and I love that I am not tripping over lego all the time (just most of the time).  Some of my favourite bits are:

- the dress up clothes hung up on a clothes line with birdie pegs Grammy 'Merica brought over on her last visit.

- the wee gallery wall stickers around the changing mat

- the enormous display area that houses the pirate ship and castle (the unit used to be our TV cabinet).

Without a wide angle lens (*cough* birthday *cough*), its hard to get a sense of the space, but there is a closet, a fireplace an two bay windows in the room.  I knew from the moment that we looked at the house that this would make a killer play space.  It was previously the dining room, which seemed like too great a luxury in a house with 3 young children. playroom

If there was one toy that I had to take with us in a fire, it would be our play tent from Habitat. It was a gift from my family when Georgia was born, but we had to take it down in the old house when G moved into Ellis' bedroom. Now it is out all the time and used every day, even if just for sulking in.

tent and dragon

 

On the toy front, I've really pared back the amount of toys we keep out.  I recently even went so far as packing away the wooden train set. I hit the limit when I realised that friends would come over,  tip out every box, but they would still only play with the Lego, the cars and the pirate ship. 

Ellis Lego

Georgia isn't one to play with any toys.  She just wanders around all day long, occasionally carrying something, most often not.  I used to wonder if it was an age thing, but then I remembered that by 1 year old Ellis was train OBSESSED. Georgia's favourite game is destroying what ever her big brother is doing...a valid, but sadly dangerous, occupation. 

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Theo also gets his own space.  We've never had a playpen or a travel cot, but we realised in within weeks of Theo's arrival that if he was going to survive to the age of one, he'd need some protection from his over enthusiastic sister. Sure the occasional lego/doll/silicone muffin pan still gets dropped in, but at least potential damage is limited. (Bunting was a baby gift from a friend) 

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Other than the wee gallery stickers and the kite, we are still lacking on wall art.  We have a Nick Sharratt print from the Illustrators exhibition and a felt piece by Kev's colleague Silvia Woodford that are waiting to be framed. Overall, though, it feels "done". Its possibly my favourite room in the house...which may or may not be linked to the fact that its currently the cleanest.

All of this said, of course toys still get dragged everywhere, but at the end of the day, if nothing else, I can toss all the mess in and close the door. A welcom change in our new home.

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Doll house was made by Kev's Dad and Stepmother.  Totally amazing, right???

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lateral Thinking

 

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Inconsolable babies just break my heart and then send me into a cold sweat.  I am instantly thrown back into the months and months where Ellis would not stop crying as a baby.  I can not think or talk, I go into a blind frenzy of "I must soothe this baby".

And in my absences from the other two over the last few days of Theo being unwell, chaos reigns.  My children often remind me of caged lions sysematically testing the electric fencing for weakness - rarely testing the same place twice.  The crowning moment had to have been Georgia pouring a pot of soya cream and half a tin of tomatoes on the living room floor and splashing in it.

And when one boundary has been tested and denied "No you will not draw on your baby brother", another outlet is found.

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Lateral thinking at its finest.
Realising the Obvious

I had one of those "extremely deep at the time, but in retrospect oh so obvious" revelations the other day:

I Can Not Do Everything.

Man, I want to.  I want to sew all of our clothes, spin my own wool, knit everyone sweaters and mittens, take pictures, have a clean house, cook meals from scratch, garden, tweet, blog, read, sing, play the banjo, catch up with the laundry, see friends, go to the park, go to the sea and watch a movie every day.

But I can not.  Its an either or game here.  I can either have an immaculate house or play with the kids.  I can either cook or knit.  I can either sleep or be a henious she-dog.  I can tweet or read or blog, but I can't do them all.

And so, I quit making dinner half-way through, ordered pizza and did some sewing. 

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A little refashioned dress/top out of an old Tshirt of Ellis' and a maternity shirt of mine.  Quick. Simple. And because it was jersey and there wasn't much fabric to play with, I left the armholes unfinished. While I want to make immaculately made children's clothes, I simply do not have the time. Jersey is forgiving, it doesn't fray and we were going for the rocker chick look anyway.

Making it: easy, peasy.  Getting a decent picture of it: Not so much. I am certain I would get more done in life if they had less personality. 

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But what fun would that be?

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Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Oh the weather...man it is bleak. Yesterday it was was pouring with raindrops the size of upside down ice cream cones. 

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We find ourselves rushing outside at any moment the sky isn't consumed with thunderous downpours. But there is still rain. Even if it isn't raining, it just rained or is about to.

But what can you do? Get out your raincoats and go...and eat stonesIMG_3712.jpg mmmm stones

And run manically about yelling that crabs and fish and sharks that may or may not be at the bottom of the harbour.

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And build sandcastles and eat sand...    

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...well really only one of us eats rocks and sand. 

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There aren't any pictures of the sand consumption because I spent the entire time chasing her around as she stuffed handfuls of it in her mouth. We discovered later that she also ate a piece of the pirate treasure from the pirate ship...its not quite the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we were hoping for. 

 

(top picture and sandcastle building pics by Kevin)

External Validation

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Last night, I walked home from the train station with an enormous skip in my step and small tears in my eyes.  Silly probably.  The magic that is a smart phone meant that as I was wrangling the two kiddos off the train, an email popped into my phone informing me the above photo is going to be in the 2011 Ideal Homes Calendar.

Its a small thing.  Just a wee competition that a blog reader, Mairi, had sent me.  I submitted my photo and stood back and waited. I didn't have any hope at all that I would make it through.  I watched as other photos rolled in...amazing views of lochs and mountains, stunning seascapes, snow-covered hillsides, gorgeous old buildings.  Even at the end of the public voting, coming in 8th of almost 300 didn't fill me with much hope.  My photo was of my neighbour's laundry...but I was wrong.

Its the first time in a long while that I've had a success that is mine.  In the world of small children, the sucesses that are celebrated are often those that actually have very little to do with me; a baby's first crawl, a boy's first soccer lesson. So much of motherhood is about facilitating other people's triumphs and fading quietly to the back.  It can get lonely back there.

This success is mine and I am so pleased and proud...but to say that my children had nothing to do with it is not entirely true.  

On that particular day, Georgia was inconsolable and wouldn't sleep.  I'd taken her out for a walk in the fields in her pushchair with the camera.  As we headed back, still not asleep, I stopped and caught a glimpse of the man's laundry against the hills.  Snap. 

And the rest is an Ideal Homes calendar.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mairi, for letting me know!!

 

Edited to say: Just heard back from the competition organisers.  It'll be the month of February and apparently they loved my photo and I was just pipped to the post!!!  Wow oh wow!!