Designing Daydreams

Have you ever had a moment where you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and think ‘what on earth am I doing?’ I had one of these moments a few months back now. The basic gist of it was this: I felt as though I had no soul. I was working tirelessly and whilst I have nothing against hard work, the ‘no soul’ part was definitely dragging me down. I’d been pushing on for the better part of twelve months, trying to do what I thought was going to be ‘best’ for the family and setting aside my true passions. I should know better by now. I should. Clearly I don’t.

In the end I realised a thing I have always known, but never really embraced: I am not normal. I mean that in as nice a way as possible: I am a bubbly, eccentric personality. I work best alone, in silence, doing my thang my way. (Yes, I wrote ‘thang.’) I have never thrived in a standard work environment. Creativity, working from home and being a stay at home mum have been lifelong dreams of mine. And, hey, I’ver certainly managed the mothering part! I love my two munchkins and I would do anything for them. But the rest? I have this nasty habit of getting in my own way. I’ve spent a lifetime looking at myself in the mirror and saying “Why can’t you just be normal?” But I can’t, even when I try.

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I sat down and I had a long talk with close family members, close friends and above all, my most delicious and ever supportive husband. We talked about what I was doing and why, as opposed to what I wanted to be doing and why. We talked about life, love and happiness. In the end I realised that I need to be myself. Even if it means less money now and a longer road to financial freedom. If I can’t show my kids that being completely, utterly myself is okay, how can I encourage them to do the same?

Now, I am a bit of a dreamer. Okay, a lot. I don’t really live on planet earth. I’m pretty sure I’m a unicorn (except for those days when I’m a dragon, oh yes) and I believe everything should be covered with sparkles. With being so busy trying to be normal, I had hidden away all these things. I’d stopped creating unless it was practical or necessary. I pretty much wore grey and black everywhere, and there were certainly no rainbows in my unicorn poop. (overshare! sorry) I decided the best thing to do would be to reclaim my creativity. But what would I do with the things I made??

Hubby said “Why don’t you just sell them?” Well, derp! Why don’t I? So I set my sights on an Etsy store and I began. I have started small, with things that I could whip up quickly on the sewing machine, because at the time that suited me. I dreamt up the name Designing Daydreams as a homage to my dreamerishness, and I registered it.

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I opened an Etsy store and I listed my items for sale. This was all around the time of Grandma’s passing, or shortly thereafter, and I’ll admit I haven’t done much since then. But I am renewed. I am feeling fresh and vibrant. I have started wearing colour, putting clips in my hair (special mention to Orion who said “mummy, why is there a bird on your head?” – for the record, it was a flower) and I’ve even dug out my proper jewellery.

I’m currently working on some very cute commissions (one of which has taken me a long time so far – sorry Kate, I am knitting like mad I promise!) and I’m designing and making a couple of quilts, one on the machine and one that will be embroidered by hand. Last week I placed my first wholesale order, and today it arrived! I’ve sorted my diary situation for next year (I’m a stationary nut so that’s harder than it sounds) and am now waiting for the mailman to deliver it. And, and, AND – I’m writing again. Oh yes. I’m dreaming of things, and stories, and shiny rainbow sparkly clouds with unicorns dancing across them.

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Here’s the Etsy store, if you wanna take a look: xDesigningDaydreamsx
I’ve also added a Designing Daydreams section to the menu on the blog. This will enable me to add any relevant posts and also keep up a few current pictures of what the store is selling and stuff like that. Check it out! Things are small for now, but I have plans for them to grow, grow, grow!

Hooray!

Into The Stars

So, it’s been a while. I don’t know if you’d noticed? I sort of had, I sort of hadn’t. You see, I’ve been… well, I’ve been sad.

A couple of months ago, my Grandmother took ill quite suddenly, and soon thereafter passed away. She wasn’t that old (81 years young, to be precise, but don’t tell her I told you that) and her illness came on with no real warning.

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There are not enough words in all the languages in the entire universe to express how much I loved this woman. She was my grandmother, my friend, my supporter, my confidante – the list goes on. Whilst she’s always played a major role in my life, when my grandfather passsed away a few years back, we began to spend a lot of time together. She only lives a few minutes up the road and seeing as I’m at home with the kids, I visited her often. We shopped, we ate donuts with the kids, we went on adventures.

And then she was gone.

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At the time, I had been grateful that she didn’t suffer. I was happy that she and Grandpa were together again. I applied myself to the Things That Needed To Be Done, and I did them. I knew she wouldn’t want me to be sad. She was a practical woman, and she believed in Getting On With It – so I did just that. But something has been off. I’ve been crabby. Incredibly negative. Snappy, even. I walked away from the blog, my novel, my creative pursuits and my work. Everything. I walked away from it all, because there were Things That Needed To Be Done, and I needed to do them. Just don’t ask me what they were, because I can’t seem to remember.

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When she was sick in the hospital and I took the kids to visit, there was a scene like this: Grandma lying bed, and Orion sitting beside her, holding her hand.
“Grandma, the doctors are going to make you better,” Orion said.
“They will try,” she answered.
“What if they can’t make you better?” he asked, his little brow furrowed. She squeezed his hand and smiled.
“Then we will go to the window, and you can pick a star, and Grandma will watch over you from there,” she told him. Then she looked at me and as our eyes met, we both burst into tears.

I will never forget that moment, nor the moments it has sparked thereafter. Orion, telling me she had shrunk because she had to be very little to fit inside a star. Orion, asking me to leave the curtain open so that she could see he was wearing a jumper she had bought for him. Orion, saying there must be lots of dead people, because there are so many stars, and which one was Grandma’s? I let him choose. For all of those moments, I could only hold him and try my best to make him understand a thing I don’t even comprehend myself.

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The other day, I woke up and realised I had lost my smile. All of the bubbles that make up my personality? Popped, each and every one. What had happened? Where had it all gone wrong? I am an optimistic, rose-coloured glasses kinda gal. Usually, anyway. So I sat down, and I thought, and I wondered, and I waited, and then I realised the truth of it.

I was sad.

I miss her.

I miss her incredibly, totally, enormously.

I had eschewed normal life, because my version of normal has her in it, and now it will never be the same. I was so busy trying to Get On With It that I’d not stopped to deal with it. But now was the time for it to deal with me. So I cried. And I cried, and I cried, and I cried. And maybe I cried a little more. I think a part of me will be shedding tears forever – or at least until we meet again – but I realised at last that this is okay. This is a thing that needs to happen, in order for me to rediscover myself and rebuild, as best I can, the new me.

Which, in the end, is part of Getting On With It.

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So on the other side, I have found a wobbly little thing that might almost be a bit like a smile. I have begun to force myself to rediscover my joy. I hugged my husband and I laughed with the kids. I sat down in front of my novel and I even wrote some. I am sitting here in front of my keyboard and I am slowly, slowly wading back into my life. It’s time. There are Things To Be Done, proper things. And I know she’s not really gone, only watching us all from somewhere else.

And I intend to make her proud.

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Modern Day Warlock

Do you have a passion? Do you follow it? One of my passions is creative writing. I do it when I can, and nowhere near as often as I would like. With that in mind, I have decided to set myself a little challenge, and here it is. A story, written as I go, posted as I create. I was quite nervous about the concept, but I think it’s going to be a good exercise to keep me on my creative toes. I’ll post episodes as I write them, and hopefully you enjoy the journey as much as I do. And so, without further ado:

MODERN DAY WARLOCK
Episode One – Dockside

Sage McKinnon stepped onto the main deck of the cruise ship Aloha, raising a trembling hand to ward off the sun’s regard.

“We’re about to dock, Ma’am. Would you like to follow the other passengers to the railing?” one of the ship’s crewmen paused, tipping his hat in the direction of the prow. Sage followed his gaze to the throng of passengers vying for position, and shook her head.

“No, thank-you,” she said.

“Don’t care much for the crowds? That new mecha-dock’s sure causing a lot of fuss. Cruddy name, if you ask me,” the crewman gave her a lopsided grin.

“Yeah,” Sage gave him a weak smile, struggling not to stare at the pearlescent sheen on his magically whitened teeth.

“Well, if you prefer a bit of breathing room, why not try the side rail? The view will be almost as good,” the crewman gestured at the Aloha’s deserted side railing.

“Perhaps I will. Thank you,” Sage nodded, stepping sideways.

“Thanks for sailing with us,” the crewman flicked her a two-fingered wave and turned away, his patent leather shoes tapping a cheerful beat across the deck.

Phew. Sage watched him go, forcing her shoulders to relax. Twisting her expression into one of polite interest, she walked slowly to the ship’s edge, stopping to grip the thin railing which ran the circumference of the deck.

The sea below was a steely grey, the waters calm in the shelter of the harbour. The swell lapped gently at the base of a sheer concrete wall which stretched higher than the topmost deck of the five-tier cruise ship. Windows winked within the black expanse, tinted glass that had been magically strengthened to hold back the great weight of the ocean.

Sage jumped as the passengers at the prow of the ship loosed a loud cheer. She turned towards the noise, grasping in vain at her thundering heart. The curve of the cruise ship allowed a view of the docks beyond, where the silhouette of a man stood framed in the narrow passage between two skyscrapers. He knelt and placed both hands on the ground, the air around him shimmering with the faintest tinge of blue.

A water mage? Sage snorted a laugh. The sea in front of the ship began to bubble, and two great gouts of water shot up into the air. Spray from the geysers tilted over the ship, shimmering gold in the afternoon sun. The droplets hung in mid air, tinkling and chirping like a flock of songbirds before plunging onto the ship’s deck. The crowd cheered again as the air filled with the scent of wildflowers. The mage rose from his crouch and lifted one arm in acknowledgement.

Get on with it, Sage sighed, turning her attention back to the steely harbour. It was a grim visage, even with the efforts of the water mage. The cruise ship was alone in a narrow cul de sac, bouyed by the silent grey water and bordered by skyscrapers that blocked all view of the city beyond. If not for the lure of the mecha-dock, Whysper Industries’ once private harbour would never have become a scheduled stop for cruise ships.

The geysers of water fell silent and Sage glanced up to see the water mage taking a bow. The applause of the passengers echoed off the winking walls of the Whysper buildings, and Sage closed her eyes in an attempt to block it out. Her fingers tingled as she clenched the metal railing, her lungs scrambling to draw breath.

No, no, no! Sage’s eyes flew open and she leapt back from the railing as if burnt, fisting her hands into the thin layers of her summer cardigan. Before her, the ship’s white railing now bore shimmering whorls of violet, so dark as to be almost black.

“Great,” Sage looked down at her hands to discover magic curling across her palms, the same shimmering dark energy that had branded the ship’s railing. She watched it move with a morbid fascination, concentrating on taking deep breaths and seeking an inner calm which became more elusive with each episode.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noted the passengers beginning to thin. The gangplank! Sage curled her hands into fists and hastened to join the throng, slipping into the middle of the pack of tourists with an apologetic smile. She spared a glance back at the marked railing, where the magic was already beginning to fade. Given enough time, it would disappear completely.

“Luggage will be available for pickup dockside in about half an hour,” a crewman called, his voice rolling out over the crowd’s excited hum. Sage felt her stomach knot. Half an hour? She glanced back at the fading magic again.

Then the gangplank loomed and suddenly she was clattering down a steel ramp towards the mecha-dock. Where had it come from so suddenly? Distracted from her tingling hands, Sage gaped as she stepped down onto a series of interlocking platforms. Metal? Plastic? She couldn’t tell. It was a dark green colour, and seemed to bob and sway with the swell of the ocean – except when she walked, she felt perfectly stable. On the opposite side of the harbour, the platforms began to rise and stack, contorting until they formed a wide, shallow staircase.

This was it, then, the magical engineering marvel that many of these tourists had travelled around the world to see. Sage looked down at her feet, wondering again what it was made of. Each platform seemed small, and yet it had taken next to no time to assemble, appearing from… somewhere. Surely under the water?

It took a few moments for the tingling to register. Sage blinked, looking around her. Crewmen from the ship were attempting to usher chattering tourists towards the staircase, without any real success. Passengers had spread out acorss the mecha-dock, oohing and aahing and snapping pictures willy nilly, leaving her quite alone. Sage looked down at her hands, but the violet tracings were gone. The tingling inside her spread, moving down towards her feet, towards the dock.

Calm. Stay calm. Sage started for the staircase at the edge of the harbour, which suddenly seemed terribly far away. As she walked, the tingling intensified, stealing the very air from her lungs and setting her heart racing.

No. Please no. Staggering to one side, Sage stopped, bending double as she fought to fill her lungs with air. Violet lines spread out from her feet, twisting across the mecha-dock, covering her dark green platform with the shimmering rainbows of an oil slick. And then the platform disappeared, leaving only the grey ocean beneath.

Oh shit. The freezing water turned her limbs to stone, filled her gaping mouth and swallowed any scream she might have uttered. The tiny, winking light of day was out of reach, and there was only the ocean to witness as Sage sank.

Not-So-Itty Knitting

So if you’ve been watching on Facebook, you’ll know I’ve been chipping away at a little winter cardigan for Piper. It’s a cute Tikki Knits design called the Wallaby (I’m knitting the 8 ply version), and it’s been really nice and smooth to knit. The project has been slow going, but my knitting always is. Nevertheless, I’ve been trying to push myself to get it finished, because the cooler weather is definitely upon us and I’d love to see Piper wearing the finished product.

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The other day, as I picked the cardigan up to start working on the sleeves, I noticed that the body looked really wide and short. I have this problem a lot – in fact, I am routinely complaining to my mum how all the baby patterns seem wide and short. The wallaby pattern lists all the finished measurements for each size, so I got to and measured the width and length. I knitted an 18 month size and a 2 year length, to accommodate for Piper’s slender frame. I discovered the cardigan was, in reality, the same width as the 3 year sizing, with the 2 year length.

Say what?

I measured it several times to make sure, but there is definitely a whole extra two inches in width. I know all my stitch counts are correct, because I am a little particular that way, and I check them often – so what then? I’ve not been knitting an awfully long time, probably only about two years, which at my slow knitting speed doesn’t yield me that many finished projects. But, they’ve all been wide and short – and don’t get me started on the newborn baby booties that didn’t fit until Piper was almost twelve months old. At the time, I had been knitting patterns which gave instructions, but not finished measurements. This had led me to assume that all knitting patterns are short and stupidly wide. This time, with the wallaby, I had something written down that reflected finished measurements – and at last I realised what I had been overlooking all along. The problem is me!

I contacted my mum and my nana, who are pretty much my knitting gurus. “Is it possible to be a loose knitter?” I asked. It seemed a silly question, but there it is. How could you be a loose knitter? Don’t you just follow the instructions and have the finished product magically appear? (Yes, I really am this naïve.)

Nana said: “Of course. Have you ever knitted any of those tension squares?”
Me: “No…”
Nana: “Me either. Always thought they were a waste of time and money, to be honest, but that would tell you if you were a loose knitter. It’s okay, it just means you need to have a size smaller needles than what the pattern says.”

Mum said: “I thought your knitting looked a little loose when I saw it last.”
Me: “Am I not supposed to be able to see through it?”
I hold the cardigan up to the light to show her.
Mum: “Not that much. You need to go down a size in needles. Don’t worry, I was the same when I first started knitting.”
Me: “How did you find out?”
Mum: “Same way you just did – everything was short and fat.”
Me: “Nana said I should have tried some tension squares…”
Mum: “Waste of time and money – but then, that’s probably why I found out about being a loose knitter the hard way.”

In-progress

Okay, so I’m not a total loser for thinking that tension squares were lame. If the knitting gurus never bothered, then I feel a bit vindicated. I do look back and wonder how I never twigged before, especially when the coat I knitted for Orion’s third birthday is still too big for him at four and a half. So it’s kind of cool, I guess, because the problem is identified and I have a solution. (And a legitimate reason to shop for more needles.)

Except now I have a cardigan, mostly finished, which I was so excited to see Piper wear this year. I won’t lie, I was fairly heartbroken when I realised it wasn’t going to fit her any time soon. My only real option is to adjust it for a bigger size – so I will finish knitting the sleeves to a longer length, potentially the 4 year old length, and then I will go back and extend the body to suit. With any luck she can wear it next year or, failing that, the year after. Not a total loss, because it will still be worn, but I am disappointed as I was so looking forward to her wearing it sooner, rather than later. But, I am not well known for my patience, so there is that.

How about you? Have you ever found out something the hard way? Do you knit? Is it tight, loose, or dead on the mark?

Together

As my children grow, I gain an intense amount of satisfaction from watching them interact. At first it was just play, which in itself was an interesting dynamic. Orion grew up an intensely possessive child, but since his sister has come on board he shares everything willingly, right down to his last jellybean.

Now that Piper is older, the learning is starting to go both ways. She began by watching adults, but now her favourite source of learning is her big brother. She watches his every move and mirrors it exactly. Orion quickly became aware of this phenomenon and wasted no time in beginning active instruction. Not a day goes by that I don’t see or hear him showing her how to complete a new activity and then sitting back to watch while she tries it herself, correcting where necessary. It’s one of the most fascinating and enriching things I have ever seen.

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He taught her to clap, and to say “Yay!” This is the way they usually celebrate a successful lesson.

He taught her to ride her tricycle, complete with skidding around corners. He later expanded on this by showing her how to pull her little squeaky dog on wheels along behind it, although I was responsible for tying the string in place. They love racing up and down the hallway, two trikes bumping over the tiles, two dogs squeaking fit to explode and both of them shrieking their heads off for joy.

He taught her to brush her teeth. I’d been struggling for months to get her to open her mouth just to let me put the brush in, and after one shower together with Orion demonstrating, she’s now a pro. As long as mummy doesn’t try to interfere, of course.

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He taught her to drink from a cup, how to tip and sip and swallow without a sipping lid. Then he taught her how to pour it all over the floor and dance in the puddle.

He taught her how to do a jigsaw, piece by piece. First he did it alone, while she watched. Next, she handed him the pieces to put on the board. Then he placed the pieces and let her push them into place. Now they do the puzzle together.

He taught her to run, and dance, and they do this daily. She copies his every move in an eternal game of Simon says.

He taught her to take off her own shoes… And of course leave them strewn on the floor wherever they were removed.

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He taught her to say “share,” but not by asking, by doing. “I will share my chocolate with you, Piper.” Or toys, or books.

He taught her how to carefully put her cutlery into her untouched dinner, push it away and say “Nup.” Which she now does, for any meal that Orion also rejects, even if it is a food she has previously enjoyed.

He taught her to say “Why?” Which is terribly cute. Interestingly enough, she employs the word in valid situations and considers my answers accordingly. For example: “Lay down on the mat so we can change your nappy,” I said. “Why?” She asks. “Because you have done a poo. If we don’t change, your bottom will get sore. Can we change your nappy now?” She thinks. “Yeah,” she says, and lies down.

He taught her to count to two and three, when he hands out her allotment of biscuits or fruit slices. Now, every time I hand her a piece of food, she says “Two?” And you better believe she knows exactly how many that is.

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The list goes on, each and every day. For the most part positive, sometimes not so much (read: I could have lived without refusal to eat dinner or put on pyjamas.) I cannot stop watching them together, breathing in their shared discovery and development. When one cries, the other offers comfort. There is, of course, drama and dischord, as with any relationship, but I’ll be honest, I expected more. Orion is so wild and free, driven by his insatiable curiosity and boundless energy. I used to worry he would either ignore Piper or ride roughshod over her, but she is equally free spirited. She stands her ground when necessary, and as is often the case with young children, has the strength of ten elephants and the magical ability to sprout extra arms. This makes wrestling matches quite even, and arguments often end with both of them in tears and group hugs all around.

What about you? Do your children learn and interact this way? Do you love it, or does it drive you crazy?

A Holiday Shower

There was a bit of a milestone in our house the other day. I mean, every day has a milestone of some sort – someone puts on their own socks, or brushes their own teeth, or works out how to open the cake container. But this milestone was different. Are you ready?

For the first time in almost four years, I had a shower by myself. It was equal parts unusual and amazing. Normally Marshy takes Orion into the shower, and then I take Piper with me. But not this time.

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Easter holidays snuck up on me this year – I had just gotten used to Orion being at kinder for two and half days a week, and suddenly I had him back full time in all his exuberant glory. It happened one Friday afternoon, when I picked him up from kinder, and one of the teachers said: “Have a lovely holiday!” I smiled and said: “Thanks, but we’re not holidaying?” in my best, oops-wrong-person kind of voice. The teacher laughed and said: “No, I meant school holidays.” Being the total noob that I am, I answered with: “Oh? When is that?” To which she responded by patting me on the shoulder and saying: “Now. See you in two weeks!” Whilst I stared at her in surprise, she politely ushered us out the door and that was the end of it.

Right. At first I was daunted, because I always intended to be one of those mums who had all the holiday activities planned three years in advance, colour coded in boxes with sweet little pink labels on the front. Only… I am not that person. And I will never be that person, except in my imagination. So whilst I loved spending time with the kids without having to rush off anywhere, I did struggle a bit with what to do. One morning, whilst the four of us were snuggling in bed, Orion said: “Daddy, I’d like to shower by myself today.” Marshy leaned up on one elbow and gave me that raised eyebrow that is secret parent language for ‘what is the correct answer here?’ Because, whilst we want to foster our children’s independence, we also sometimes have to be places on time, and it’s faster if there’s help on hand. Feeling brave, I said: “It’s okay, Daddy, Orion’s a big boy and we don’t have to go anywhere today. He can shower on his own.”

So he did, and a pre-washed Piper spent the entire time crying and banging on the outside of the glass at the injustice of it all. The next morning went like this: “Mummy, Daddy, can I shower by myself again today? I am a big boy.” To which Marshy gleefully said: “Of course you can, buddy!” Then Orion turned to me and followed up with: “And can Piper come in the shower with me too?” With Piper’s diva rage from the day before fresh in my mind, I looked at Orion and said: “I suppose so… but that means you will have to help her wash with soap, and brush her teeth, and wash her face. Can you do that?” I expected him to say no, because really, who wants to wash their younger sister’s armpits? But his face lit up and he said “Oh yes, mummy! I can do that!” And so it was decided.

So I showered by myself.

It was totally and completely uneventful, and that in itself is the noteworthy thing. I had all the hot water, I did not have to squat down to wash anyone, nobody poked me in the lady garden while I was washing my hair or poured buckets of cold water on my feet. Amazing.

Later, I got to supervise as Orion and Piper showered together. It was perhaps one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. Orion takes his big brother duties very seriously, and my only regret is that I didn’t have my camera on hand as he demonstrated how to brush teeth, with Piper copying his every move. He then dished out the liquid soap and showed her how to wash herself, but after a few moments he realised she wasn’t really up to the task. Without my prompting, he lathered his hands up and washed her himself, very carefully explaining where her armpits were and that you have to make sure you wash your bottom properly. Then there was a moment’s silence, followed by: “Mummy? I can’t wash Piper’s doodle, because I can’t find it.” Trying not to laugh, I said: “She doesn’t have a doodle, buddy. She’s a girl.” His confused expression was priceless, and I watched with interest while he assessed the situation. After a moment he shrugged and said: “Piper, I’m going to show you how to wash where your doodle should be.” And he did, which was also hilarious, because within moments Piper was demonstrating her best michael-esque crotch grab.

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Ever since that day, Piper insists on washing herself and I am only allowed to assist after she has completed the chest-tummy-spadge-legs-feet-bum ritual that Orion demonstrated to her. It’s a very quick, interpretive dance style set of movements that has me in stitches every time – and which she later demonstrated in the communal showers at swimming, causing all the onlookers to also fall apart laughing.

There is nothing quite like a solo shower in a time when you don’t have them. I guess there’s nothing quite like a nude 20 month old doing her best Michael Jackson in the shower, either.

How about you? Do you shower alone, or with company? Do your tiny dictators behave, or make life a challenge?

On Easter

The last few weeks have been a bit topsy turvy for me, so this easter was a really good time for resting and getting back to what I love most – my family. I gave myself permission to enjoy the time off completely, which enabled a slow rebuild of the fire which normally burns so brightly within my creative heart.

We didn’t do anything special – but that’s what made it special. It allowed us plenty of time for family shenangians and there were plenty of them. Marshy had four days off work and we did our best to make the most of them, whether that involved relaxing and laughing at home, revelling in the company of close family and friends, or getting out on little adventures.

We hunted eggs.

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And ate them. Piper picked up the idea very quickly, and before we knew what was happening, she was stealing eggs out of any available basket, unwrapping them and stuffing them into her mouth. She was just lucky that the easter bunny knows she’s lactose intolerant and made sure there was an acceptable amount of lactose free chocolate going around.

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I baked. Family gatherings always provide me plenty of opportunities for baking. Normally I like to experiment with new and exciting things, but this year I kept it pretty simple.

cupcakes

These cupcakes were marbled on the inside, chocolate and vanilla flavoured. The frosting is delicious buttercream, and I found the little cheeps at Aldi a couple of weeks before easter. They were just perfect and everyone loved them! My aunt was so impressed that she squirrelled her cheep away and there is now one less in the flock for next year.

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easter-cake-bunnies

Next on the menu was this easter cake. It is, once again, alternating layers of both vanilla and chocolate cake. Marshy wanted something really special for the kids, so I decided to make it a surprise cake. The kids literally thought it was magic when Marshy cut it open and all the eggs tumbled out.

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For anyone wanting to know the secret, bake your cake (or in this case, I baked two) as per normal. Slice them so that you have four layers. Or, if you have two matching tins like me, you can divide the mixture in half before baking and you will end up with four layers without having to cut anything. Leave two of the layers intact, and then cut holes in the middle of the next two. Put one whole layer down for the base, and then use your icing of choice (I like buttercream) to glue the two layers on top that you’ve cut holes in. This leaves you with a well in the center of your cake, which you can now fill with whatever you like – in this case, I used little easter eggs. Then use some more icing to glue the last whole layer over the top and voila! Nobody will know what’s hiding inside. Until they cut it open, of course.

From here I just iced it with buttercream, and piped some bunnies with melted chocolate to try and enhance the easter feel. I’m not that good with a piping bag, but I want to get better, so I take any opportunity I can get to inflict my mediocre skills on friends and family. I was actually pretty impressed with the finished product!

leftover-cake

This is what happened to the leftover cake that I removed from the two middle layers. I iced it with the leftover icing, just to get it covered. I also managed some hot cross buns, but they disappeared before I got a picture so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Besides baking, I did squeeze in a little knitting time and we also went on some lovely family adventures. My favourite would have to be a family walk around the local botanical park. It was freezing, and late in the day, but we all rugged up in our baggy daggy tracksuit pants and hoodies, and off we went.

Park-walk

The kids laughed.

Piper-park

We laughed.

monument-park

They played.

Orion-park

We played.

And after it was all said and done, we stopped off at a fish and chip shop on the way home which offers gluten free fish and chips. Deep fried take away never tasted so good!

How about you? How did you celebrate your easter? Did you head away, or keep it close to home? Were you buried in a mountain of chocolate?