Remember December

Goodness, goodness me. I’m going to forge ahead as if I hadn’t just, once again, abandoned my blog for a few weeks.
I apologise for all phone pictures – Devin broke the on/off switch on my proper camera a month ago and I haven’t had it fixed yet.

Devin was not terribly interested in Christmas – when we put up the tree, he ran away and left me to put it together myself, and then when it came to decorating it, he sat underneath like this and played with the one light-up bauble that he has been enamoured with since he was four months old.

I made this felt tree to try to make things a little more interactive and exciting, but he didn’t play with it. At all.

We’ve had gross, suffocating heat over the past month. Very little rain, few breaks in the high temperatures. Before Christmas, I’d feel smug that we had entire sports fields to ourselves while everyone was busy shopping, but we’d all be dripping with sweat after ten minutes and would end up skulking back to the cool retreat of shopping centres, anyway. I stopped to take a group shot after one of our run arounds, and…

I don’t handle heat well. With temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s (Celsius), I’ve given up on the exercise routine I was doing so well with. I feel sick a lot, and my hair is driving. me. nuts. I have to put it up to get it off my neck, but wearing even the loosest ponytail gives me a pounding headache. I can’t afford a haircut at the moment, and I’m starting to contemplate just chopping it all off myself. I prefer my hair longer, but this is painful. (And that’s not purposeful ombre or balayage colouring – that’s just the remains of when my hair was red. Sigh.)

Speaking of hair, Jene’s is super long now. Longer than mine at its longest, I believe. We shaved it all off around January 2009, and it hasn’t seen a pair of scissors since.

I entered a competition on the lmnop magazine blog to win a nanoblock pack… and promptly forgot about it. A couple of weeks later, I received this package in the mail. Being close to Christmas, I wondered how I had accidentally ordered all these nanoblocks (and how on Earth I had afforded it). It took me about five minutes to realise where they’d come from. We gave the drum kit one to a local Christmas toy drive, along with some other things.

Devin finished his third term of music class, and held his record of never cracking a smile at anyone, ever.

I found a rather embarrassed Banana-sans-Pyjamas in the ravaged toy section of Big W.

Our Christmas gift to Devin was a doll (this one – it smells like vanilla and sweet things), a pram and some handmade doll nappies and blanket (made by a friend of Georgia of Documenting Delight). I asked Devin what he wanted to name the doll, he asked me for suggestions, and latched on to the very first name out of my mouth – Patrick. I regret it a little now, because although it was very nearly Devin’s middle name, I’ve come to associate it with Spongebob Squarepants. But, Patrick it is. I also made up the three little felt guys as a last minute addition.
My parents gave him a Slip n Slide and a trampoline (why yes, he is the first and only grandchild, how did you know…), both of which he was initially wary of. I had to show him how the Slip n Slide works, and then we resorted to just holding his hands and dragging him along it. The trampoline was still unassembled on Christmas Day – we showed him the picture on the box and said, “look, a trampoline!” and he responded with, “yeah, can I splash in the pond now?”

My sister gave me this sign, which is pretty much the perfect expression of how I feel about my life.

I managed to see the very last glows of sunlight on Christmas Eve.

And finally, on New Year’s Eve, I rediscovered a nursery that I’d forgotten about, and found that it had become a lovely, peaceful place to wander around, have a coffee and let Devin play.

Although Devin was not happy when Jene place him atop this stump.

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Sew-so

I’m bad at hobbies. I’m one of those people who gets frustrated when I can’t do something well the first time I try it. Yes, one of those people… If I do happen to stick with something long enough to at least get a basic handle, the next hurdle is practising regularly in order to improve. So, if I count all the skills I’ve gained from all the pastimes under my belt, we can see that the number of times I’ve overcome that hurdle is… oh right, zero.

In December last year, I saw Kelly Doust’s The Crafty Kid on display at the library just as I was checking some books out, and despite the fact that I had nothing to sew and nothing to sew with, I quickly added it my pile. I soon grew tired and annoyed with the author herself (“oh you simply must only use all natural, organic fibres, and I don’t know how anyone could possibly put anything but cashmere on their bodies and their children’s bodies in winter” – to paraphrase), but the projects in the book looked simple enough to put me in an inspired mind. I received a sewing machine for Christmas, looked at it in its box for two weeks, packed my computer away, bought Pip Lincolne’s Make Hey! While The Sun Shines, procrastinated a little bit more, and finally, I made this –

In the book it’s called the Piggy-Back Pocket Monkey, but when I presented it to Devin, he gave it a pat and called it ‘Friend’, so Monkey Friend is the name on this guy’s birth certificate.

For a complete beginner like me, the instructions weren’t always very clear. Some parts seemed to skip along quickly, being vague, other parts were so specific that they made me question things I’d done before. (“I did that in step 3 but it didn’t say anything about that there, why is she specifically mentioning it now?”) A misprint in the list of materials meant I spent $14 that I didn’t need to. But I managed. There was one moment of panic, when I turned the whole thing the right way out after sewing everything together and realised that half of each leg had managed to escape being stitched, but I fixed it the best I could – that’s why the bottom corners aren’t square. The pattern was for an older, taller kid, so I just tie the legs around Devin’s waist and put a knot in the tail. The monkey in the book was decorated with triangles, but obviously I made my own design. I am so. sick. of. triangles.

My mum found the calico hanging around the house. The brown velvety fabric was in the scraps bin at Spotlight. The most expensive thing about this was the Heat n Bond used to iron on the face and cloud design.

So, aside from sewing vertical blinds and little pouches for board game pieces, this was my first solo sewing project. It wasn’t perfect. I have so much room for improvement. But I’m really satisfied, and I want to make more things. (Admittedly it did help that I already knew how to basically sew a button and operate a sewing machine…)
I think one of the great things about sewing is that often, it doesn’t matter if your stitches are wonky or your seams aren’t flat or you… accidentally miss the monkey’s legs. You can still end up with something that looks good and that you’re proud of. I mean, maybe get back to me when I have to make a formal gown or some such thing that requires less character and more precision… but for crafty, hobby projects like this, imperfection is fantastic.

All right, another expense was this pin cushion because I didn’t much fancy sticking my fingers into a box of jumbled pins. Devin kept taking it when I wasn’t looking because the little people around the edge are, apparently, “baby boys!” I had to go and buy him one of his own, so he can grab it and exclaim “little baby boys!” to his heart’s content. Pin-free.

Parenting – Seriously, not for the squeamish.*

*In which I turn a small injury into a 666 word post.

My Thursday didn’t begin well. I was pissed at traffic, pissed at ridiculous 9am shopping crowds, and pissed at myself for seemingly not being able to contain anything in my grasp (I mean that in the literal coffee-spilling, key-dropping sense).

Considering the preceding events, I did what any sensible person would do and continued to work on the makeshift cardboard grocery store I was in the process of making for Devin. Yes, that does sound reasonable enough, doesn’t it?
Let’s run through the tools required for what I had panned to do –

  • Stanley knife (AKA utility knife AKA boxcutter)

Now let’s consider the fact that, while I’m not inherently clumsy, I do have a tendency to forget to be careful…

Oh dear.

Lesson One:

Lesson Two: Cut away, not towards.

Lesson Three: Keep body parts well away from the cutting path.

Lesson Four: Forget lessons one through three, you’re just going to do it anyway, aren’t you?

When I realised the blade had gone too far, my first thought was, “Holy crap, I’ve severed my thumb”. My second thought, as I glanced down and saw the cut before clamping my right hand over the top, was, “Ok, not that bad, but I think I just saw something that wasn’t skin and blood”. My following train of thought went something like, “Ok. What do I do? That probably needs stitches. I need help. I’ll get Jene. Wait, where’s Devin? Still in the sand pit, ok, bring him inside…” “Dev-!” “No, he’s fine there. I’ll get Jene. He is not going to handle this well. I’d better cover this with a tissue… All right, several tissues… All right, some paper towel…
Jene, to his credit, handled it quite well, just like he handled Devin’s birth. Though he’s somewhat, erm, adverse to medical maladies and general bodily things, he does seem to cope remarkably better when he’s actually faced with an urgent issue, and I have to say I’m glad. After trying a bandaid (haha!), a piece of kitchen cloth wound around my thumb and bound with tape provided a temporary solution – and I’m pretty sure Jene managed to avoid seeing the wound at all during his ministrations.

Throughout all of this, though, my number one worry was, what do I do now? Where do I go? Is this bad enough for hospital? Is it even bad enough for the medical centre? It was a prime example of my absurd anxiety – I was ten times more worried about where I’d have to go and who I’d have to speak to than I was about the deep gash in my hand.

Let’s cut this shorter – I went to the hospital, waited for a triage nurse to evaluate me (“Ah, Stanley knives – our bread and butter”), waited even longer for a doctor to become available, crossed and uncrossed my legs because I needed to pee, hoped that there wouldn’t be any serious emergencies, and spent about five minutes in a treatment room with a doctor who told me that it probably didn’t need stitches, thanks in part to the clean cut made by the sharp blade. He seemed amused when I told him what I’d been doing, and kept asking if I wanted to lie down because I was shaking. Then he closed the wound with some tape, and put a bandaid over the top.

Yes. I left the emergency room with a bandaid.

What, you can’t see it?

My one instruction was to keep it dry for five days – the doctor even gave me a handful of disposable gloves. But, uh, remember what I said about forgetting to be careful? I had both of my hands in a tub of water and laundry powder for ten minutes the following night before I realised what I was doing. Goodness me.

So that’s how a bad day actually felt a lot better after I almost cut off a thumb while making a toy for my child.

Devin-ci

I’m not the kind of mother who has a thousand activities up her sleeve. I am always looking to external sources for things to do, and even then, I’m not exactly confident. My Google search must be as sick of searching for ‘activities for a _ month old’ as I am of seeing suggestions like, ‘go to the library’ or ‘do something crafty’.

I keep trying with the crafty things, but Devin still doesn’t quite understand it. When we draw, he’s more interested in the crayons as objects than as implements for making marks on something else. When we paint, he just wants to play with the paint, not spread it around on paper or canvas or even the drop sheet. Which I am not complaining about at all – it just makes things even messier.

Nonetheless, I do keep trying, and in December I tried this home made sparkly paint, which was just equal parts flour, water and salt with some food colouring. Good because it’s cheap, and also because it doesn’t matter so much if your toddler decides to eat the yellow paint and then throws it back up and now it’s time to end this activity, ok?

So I’ve heard.

 

He was eager to get in there and start making those colours indistinguishable.

 

And, you know, he actually kind of got it that time. (Yes, we’re painting on folders.)

 

Right up until the point where he realised there was a cup of crayons behind him, and that he could dip them in paint, too.

 

But we still ended up with this final product, with only a little help from me. It took a looooong time to dry, and I eventually threw it out because I was afraid of pests eating the flour, but hey, it used up some time and Devin got messy. A win-win situation.

White on rice

Devin likes making noise. The more noise, the better. If he’s not screeching, he’s shaking a rattly toy. If the toy isn’t a sound-making object, he bangs it on the floor, or other toys.

He has a maraca, but I thought I’d combine his loves of noise and empty packaging by putting rice and corn kernels in a plastic bottle.

He thought that was great.

Surprisingly, though, he tends to like tipping it slowly and carefully examining the rice as it falls from one end to the other.

So, I bought some food dye, found some other empty bottles, and made them a bit more interesting. (The little glass jar is an easier-to-hold alternative for when he just wants to shake it.) (Like a Polaroid picture.) (I’m sorry.)

I don’t have pictures, but he likes them. Just imagine the first photo with a bigger smile and a worse haircut. (That was my Mother’s Day gift to him.)