Quilting 101 – Ikea Style

I remember making my first patchwork thing when I was about ten years old. I say patchwork “thing” because it wasn’t really a quilt per se, more a patchwork doona cover. I remember sewing it on my Nana’s old treadle sewing machine for the bunk beds in our little caravan by the sea and it lived a happy life in said caravan for maybe a month or two. It was made of lovely light blue and navy poly-pop (or something cheap that I bought from my pocket money) and was a checkerboard with the squares being about a foot each. I’m not sure if it survived it’s first wash (that’s if it made it past the rubbish bin on the way to the washing machine – LOL!) But I was very proud of myself and thought it was lovely at the time… and never ever made anything like that ever again!

I also remember it being very easy. After all, if a 10 year old could make something semi-decent, that served it’s basic purpose in life, surely my almost 30 year old self could do a very pretty quilt. Perhaps in a day or two. I had visions of making quilt after quilt (taking a few hours each max) to give away.  It’s just sewing a bunch of squares together, after all… Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!

So, it all started with some fabric. (It always does, I hear you say). The lovely Jina from Riley Blake had sent me a beautiful quilt for Lola using some of my old Summer Song fabrics (see below pic). I lost my old sewing machine in the flood and now have a new (very cheap) one which I hadn’t used, so I thought I’d make a set of sheets to go with the quilt from some of the matching fabric I had as a bit of a practice run.

jina-quilt-2

jina-quilt-3

How hard can it be? (This coming from someone who can’t draw, sew or cut a straight line to save her life – LOL)! So, I started with the flat sheet, just to get the feel for my new machine. I lined up the selvage edge, then tried to line up the printed pattern to cut my straight line. Pressed all my hems like a good girl.  Started sewing and it seemed to be going well, then when it was all finished I went to fold it up it was more a… skewiff kind of rectangle. Not a regular rectangle. One with all different length sides. I couldn’t for the life of me figure what I had done wrong!

I’m sure this is what happens to the people who sew for Ikea, as every single quilt cover I have bought from there has the same problem. I can just imagine them… much like me:

ikeaman1

I feel your pain, confused Ikea man… I feel your pain.

Anyway, I did a Google search to see what the problem might be. Probably something along the lines of “why is my fabric all wonky”. I even consulted my Mum, who responded with “it’s not that hard Zoe”. I know I should have given up right there, but this fabric line is discontinued now and a piece of fabric wasted is a piece of fabric lost forever.  I was not willing to give up. This wonky fabric would not beat me, not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!!

Then I received a box bursting with fabrics from my new Indian Summer line, much too much to sit in a box, and not enough to make sheets or quilt covers with.  So… a patchwork quilt! Of course! I found the matching quilt pattern on the Riley Blake website and my adventure began.

First, I discovered that most quilters like to pre-wash their fabric.  And I, being a crafty small things sewer, always pre-wash my fabric, so that was no problem.  I chose to ignore the part about drying them in the dryer though. Being the eco-smart girl that I am, I washed them all (cold wash of course) and proceeded to hang them on the line to dry…  By the selvage. BIG mistake.

Then I discovered the quandary of squaring up your fabric.  Which is next to impossible when you have hung your fabric by the selvage and warped it to within an inch of it’s life.  This is when I had an “aha” moment about my first flat sheet and what had happened there. But, as I said, a piece of fabric wasted and all that… so I pressed on regardless.  Surely if the pieces were square, they’d stay square.  Wrong again. By the time I’d finish piecing my quilt top I lost about 6 inches off the size because I had to keep cutting my squares smaller and smaller and smaller to try and get them square.

So, quilt top was looking (kind of) good.  Even though it had now turned to a doll size quilt. Time to quilt it all together! But, I don’t need 3 yards of fabric to cover the back… No, I (being the super-sewer that I am) only need the size of the top! (I know, I know… you’re thinking, how many times do you need to prove yourself wrong  before you learn NOT to ignore the advice of quilters??)

AND, I don’t need a walking foot!  Pfft! Me? I can quilt that thing with my normal presser foot, surely it won’t make any difference.  Wrong again.  My poor quilt was so puckered after that that I admitted defeat and took my little sewing machine to my nearest quilting shop and bought a walking foot.

Where they proceeded to give me the impression that using my sewing machine for quilting would be akin to getting the black plague. Somehow, I don’t think they believed me when I said I designed fabric for Riley Blake.  Turned their nose up and said “doesn’t she design her own fabric?” I tried to explain that Riley Blake was the company name, not a person/designer . But as if they were going to believe me when I had a sewing machine like that – LOL!  I’m sure they laughed when I left. I can just imagine.  “Poor girl, must be loopy.  Thinks she can quilt without a walking foot and thinks she designs fabric to boot.  Tisk tisk tisk”.

So, that was my first quilting experience.  My poor little quilt has been abandoned now, along with my flat sheet, and has earned the title of “practice quilt”.  I will use it for all manner of things I want to practice – binding, free-motion quilting (yeah right, maybe I should just learn a bit more before I tackle that one LOL!) I have made the quilt top for my second quilt, my own design and much easier than the first, and you’ll be happy to know it’s only about a half inch out of square! Starch is now my best friend.  As is my seam ripper.  But it’s all learning, and I will NEVER make those mistakes again.  In fact, I think because of those mistakes I am more determined to do more. I am quite addicted to it already.

Lesson learned, don’t do it Ikea style.  This is not flat-packing. I have done the confused Ikea man face more times than is healthy for a woman on the verge of wrinkles. It is definitely not just sewing some squares together. Listen to the quilters. Otherwise you and your seam ripper (and perhaps your psychiatrist) will become much closer than you really ought to be.

Zoe

My New Obsession…

Earlier this year while ogling my Real Living magazines as I so often do, I stumbled across the work of the amazingly talented artist, Rob Ryan.

I liked the quirky style, and at first I just thought they were prints, but I was captivated nonetheless and decided to check out his blog.  And I discovered he cut all those things by hand!!! BY HAND?!?

I thought he must be the only one of his ilk, surely no one else could possess such a skill as being able to cut such beautiful things from one solitary piece of paper.. But I was wrong – a whole world of papercutting brilliance opened before my very eyes and I was smitten!

Julene Harris

Elsita

And I decided right then that I must become a papercutting artist myself! :P

So… here are my first couple of attempts… The first hangs in my office – the saying is my favourite and has always helped me see the brighter side of life. When I was younger and more nubile, I wanted to have it tattooed from my ribs to my hip in full bursting colour with bluebirds and leaves, all singing their happy songs…

{You can take the girl out of Mt Gravatt, but you can’t take the Mt Gravatt out of the girl}

And here is my second attempt – for my Lola.  I’m yet to get out to Ikea to buy a frame for it, but it will make it into her room one of these days.

It’s time consuming and fiddly, but I do enjoy time consuming, fiddly things so it’s right up my alley.  It’s very relaxing and I could honestly spend all day cutting these  things..

As you can see, I’m well on my way to becoming a professional papercutting artiste :P

One can dream.

Zoe

She Is So Cute…

Isn’t she?!?

lola

She’s a funny little thing… She’s such a happy little baby, but you wouldn’t know it from any photos! She could be laughing away or doing something totally cute, then the camera comes out and she’s so curious about it that she becomes Little Miss Serious and I barely have a photo of her smiling… Josh was such a show pony, I never had any trouble getting pics of his gummy smile. And I wish I could catch her smiling, just once, because it really is the cutest smile you ever did see. {Although I could be just a tad biassed :P } But this is a favourite because, well, she just looks like her cute little serious self.

My Mum said once to me, “She’s so cute, I just want to squeeze her til her eyes pop out!”

zp-cute

Enough said, don’t you think? LOL!

Zoe

Some People…

I’ve been wanting to write this post for about 7 months now, but the timing just didn’t seem quite right, and then I got kinda caught up with something else *lol*… I know a lot of my blog probably seems quite disjointed, but that’s because I don’t like to write about something until it feels “complete”, like a neat little package tied up with string, or as Oprah would say, an “aha” moment. I thought the story was complete back then for different reasons, but it still had a little more to play out, I just didn’t know it… so here we are!

I spend a lot of time reflecting on different things that have happened in my life, and the reasons for which they might have happened. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and that people come into your life sometimes, people that you wouldn’t expect to play such an important part in changing your life. And how funny it is that sometimes the universe just seems to guide you to these people, making sure that you meet them, making sure that nothing gets in the way of what is meant to happen for you.

So, today I’m going to write about this wonderful lady and how we were meant to meet under very routine circumstances, but for an extraordinary reason. My midwife, aka my “Fairy Godmother”, Hazel.

IMG_4553

When I first found out I was pregnant with Lola, I was excited, but in all honesty I was terrified of going back to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, where I had Josh.  My GP referred me to the Ipswich Hospital, because I knew I’d probably have another fast labour and it was closer, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  One part of me was thinking better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, so I held onto my referral for quite some time while I decided what I wanted to do.  I was at the point where I was going to ask my Doctor to refer me to the RBH again, but something stopped me and I decided to send my referral off to Ipswich and just hope for the best.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that at my booking in appointment, the midwife there had suggested a midwife-led program that they ran and I had put my name down for it hoping I would get in, even though it was quite late.

A few weeks later Hazel, the midwife for my area, rang and left a message saying she was terribly sorry but they had no spots available and that she would put me on the waiting list. Funny thing is, I never got that voicemail.

So, a few days after that, Hazel rang back to tell me that she had shuffled a few of her patients around, and that I could be in the program after all.  Which was news to me, seeing as I had no idea that I hadn’t made it onto the list in the first place!  So, I just put it down to my scatterbrained state and didn’t really think too much about it, I was just glad that I was on the program.  When I first met Hazel at one of my appointments, I really liked her – she had an air of confidence about her that made me feel completely at ease.  She was no-nonsense but kind and I felt like, even though I was nervous about giving birth again, that I could trust her completely and I’d get through it.

When the time came to have Lola, I called Hazel and because she only lives a couple of streets away she was there very quickly.  The first thing she did was just give me a big hug and said excitedly, “it’s a birthday!”. She commiserated with me about the pain and didn’t make me feel stupid for making noise. I remember my panic dying down as soon as she was there and rocking me through my contractions. She was waiting at the door of the hospital when we got there, and she would stop with me every contraction and just rock me through it and soothe me in such a gentle voice.  I knew things were urgent (put it this way, Lola arrived only 10 minutes after we got to the hospital), but she never let onto me.  Because of Hazel, I had a beautiful, calm birthing experience… one that I will cherish forever and wish that more women could have.

We headed for home only a few hours after Lola was born.  As part of the program, patients are discharged early, but have home care with their midwife.  Hazel would drop in after work to check on me and Lola, help us with feeding, and offer some supportive words.  I remember one time I was doubting my ability to look after Lola, and she said “all she needs is you”, and it was one of the best things anyone had ever said to me. She would come at 6:00 in the morning when I needed her to help me feed Lola.  She would come on her days off.  She would call me to make sure everything was okay. And then the strangest thing happened…

I became quite attached to Hazel.

I couldn’t imagine how I would get through the day without her visits.  I had a bad case of the “baby blues” for the first few weeks after Lola was born, and that first week was an extremely dark time for me. As the sun would go down each day, I would cry uncontrollably and feel utter panic, like I couldn’t breathe and I had no idea how I’d make it through to the morning. Those visits from Hazel were all that kept me going.  I was dreading the Friday because I knew Hazel wouldn’t be around over the weekend, and I didn’t know how I’d cope.  I looked forward to the Monday, knowing that she’d come for a visit, but when it finally rolled around, she couldn’t make it as she had to attend another birth.

I was heartbroken… Honestly, it felt like the boyfriend I’d just broken up with had started dating another girl just a couple of days later.  Hazel was MY midwife! I didn’t WANT her to move on from me so quickly.  I didn’t WANT another baby to be her “new” baby.  I didn’t WANT someone else to have that experience with her.  It was MINE!! I wanted to be the special one for just a little bit longer. I had a bad case of separation anxiety, like a baby who wanted it’s mother.  And the weirdest thing was, I just couldn’t explain it.  During one of these “night terrors”, as we began to refer to them, I rang my stepmum that night and I told her how weird it was.  This wasn’t like me!  I barely get attached to anyone, let alone a woman who, let’s face it, I’d only really known for a matter of hours!

When Hazel next came to visit, I confided in her that I was feeling that way. {Except maybe I put it differently so I didn’t seem like a psychotic stalker. LOL!} She assured me that it was completely natural, that she had shared an experience with me that was special and it was normal to feel a strong bond.  Hazel came for her last official visit on a Saturday, her day off, and she just sat and listened while I talked to her about my feelings, how isolated I felt, how terrified I was of this baby. At the end of the visit, I asked her if this would be our last visit, and she said “yes, I think so”.

I was kind of hoping she’d say, “you know what, I just live a couple of streets away… How about I just drop in every afternoon for the foreseeable future”, but never mind – LOL!

I did run into Hazel a couple of times in the weeks following, and my heart would jump with joy whenever I saw her.  She knew how isolated I felt, so she even organised a meeting with her and another young mum in the area, again while on her holidays.  She would pop in just to say hi while she was walking her dog. If I saw her walking past, we’d wave and say hello or she’d stop for a quick chat. She went above and beyond what she needed to do for her job.  I never once felt like she was “just doing her job”, she really did care. I remember asking Marty one day if he thought maybe Hazel would be one of those people who is like an Aunt that you have that isn’t really any relation, but they are just part of your life.  He said maybe (probably thinking, gee can we just get over Hazel already?!?). So, I was happy enough, imagining Hazel and I in 30 years time, age being no barrier to our friendship, having cups of tea and shortbread hanging out in our respective nursing homes.  LOL! Things got easier, that anxiety I had been feeling died down, that attachment that I felt seemed to naturally kind of drift off, and life went on.

I still to this day can’t understand why I had those feelings, why I became so attached to her.  Maybe it was because she made me feel like I was okay, she validated me, she made me feel like I was doing a good job as a mother.  But I think it might have been my soul calling out to me saying this woman is going to change your life in ways you can’t even imagine,  you just don’t know it yet.

Then, our lives were turned upside down with the flood, and those times seemed like a distant memory.  Hazel was a great support throughout that time, and was always there to make sure everything was okay.  She would send messages of support, or give me a call to check up on how we were holding up. If she saw us in the area, she’d visit. Or if I needed to feed Lola while I was on the road, she’d let me feed her at her place instead of in the car like I usually did.  She made sure I didn’t feel forgotten.

Then, one day, I got a message from Hazel.  Her husband does work for the Bellbowrie Lion’s Club and she wanted to know if she could give them my details to put on the list for any offers of work that were going around.  I didn’t really understand what the Lion’s Club did, and she explained what their role was in the community. I said sure, we’d gladly accept any help we could get!

So, her husband, while doing his Lion’s Club work one day, was calling up all the people in the area who had helped during the flood to thank them and ask them if they had any services that they could offer to those in need.  Just so happened that Lucas had hosted the medical centre in his house, so he was on the call list. And when Hazel’s hubby asked him if there were any other services he’d like to offer, he said “well, actually…”

And that’s how we got our home back.  It wasn’t Hazel’s direct doing of course, but I can’t deny that if I hadn’t met her, if I had gone to the RBH instead of Ipswich, if I had gotten that original voicemail, if she hadn’t shuffled those patients, if I hadn’t become insanely attached to her during that time, that none of this would have happened for us.  It was meant to be, and someone was making sure that our paths would cross.

Our friendship has continued since then, and while we don’t have cups of tea in our respective nursing homes just yet, I’m sure it will continue for a long time yet.  When speaking to her earlier this week, we found that we had more in common than we thought, had shared some similar life experiences and we understand each other.

I chose to write this post now because today is an important day for Hazel.  And I want her to know that she has made a difference in my life. And I know she would have made a difference in many other people’s lives as well.  She is an inspiration to me as a person, as a mother.  She helped me to have a birthing experience that wiped out my bad memories of the first one. She made me feel confident in my ability to be a mother. To be so kind and caring to a girl who was really just another patient, who she didn’t know from a bar of soap. To go so far above what she needed to do to make sure I was okay when she could have just done her job and let me go through that confusing time alone.  She has a heart of pure gold and I will be forever grateful to her for everything she has done for me and my family.  She has a very special place in my heart, she seems to sprinkle a little bit of sunshine wherever she goes, and I’m very lucky to have met such an amazing woman.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

Zoe

Home At Last…

Woohoo!  We’re baaaack!  I’m sorry to keep you all waiting… I know you’ve been just dying to hear all about it :p  I’ve had a lot of lost time to make up for I guess ;) Plus, I kind of got used to living at home again with “Super Nanny”, and got used to only cooking two meals a week. I kind of forgot about all the dinners, shopping for dinners, feeding babies, washing, cleaning, working that form part of my life.  So, I’ve been a little bit slack while we all settle back into normal life.

———————————————————————————————————————

Saturday 9th April 2011: The last week had gone so slowly.  To only have a week to go until we were allowed back into our house was exciting and daunting at the same time.  I knew a lot of people were going to be there, and at the last minute I found out that it was going to be on the news too – eek!  I was worried that people would hate us… I had heard a lot of people who weren’t affected saying they had “survivor guilt”.  And now I had it bad too.  It was hard to be ecstatic for us on the one hand, that all of our problems were solved and we got to go home… but on the other hand, we KNOW how hard it is to lose everything and not have a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting it back. I felt (and still feel) horrible for all the people, our neighbours and friends, who are still struggling, who are still homeless.  So how could I not feel guilty that we had escaped relatively unscathed? I was a bit of a nervous wreck the week before thinking the worst (old habits die hard), that we’d have lines of angry flood victims at our door harrassing us and hating us, spraying hateful graffiti messages on our house.  (I have a wild imagination which serves me well for work, but not in the real world, I guess – LOL!)

It was so surreal to wake up and know that this was the last morning we’d be out of our home.  We were going home.  TODAY!  I could hardly believe it.  It seemed like it had all happened so fast – the last three months now felt like a week.  Even now, I ask Marty if he could believe we lived at my Dad’s for THREE MONTHS?  No, he says.  It feels like we went to stay for a long weekend or something.

The morning was going so fast and I was so unorganised… I’d been avoiding the packing up, even though I knew I had to, so I was racing around trying to figure out what we’d need for our first night at home as well as pack up all the stuff we’d collected over the last three months. I hadn’t realised how much there was – agh!!  And, of course, with eight of us to get ready and showered… absolute bedlam!

I asked Marty to go down to the bottle shop in the morning to buy Lucas the most expensive bottle of Scotch he could find.  And then, just as we were meant to be leaving I looked at it.  Maker’s Mark!!! Maker’s Mark is BOURBON!!!  Aaaaagh!!! So, another trip to the bottle-o to get most expensive bottle of SCOTCH (yes Marty, SCOTCH), trying to keep Josh clean and Lola from puking on herself between feeds… And then the dress I had bought for her was miles too big so a last minute wardrobe change had to be fished out of the packed bags and ironed… What a morning that was – LOL!

And then… the trip over there.  I was so nervous! It was like the first time, before we even knew this was happening for us.  I was excited, nervous, stressed out that we’d be late, imagining all these people staring at me… I couldn’t get my hair to sit right – I hadn’t done it for three months, and it definitely wasn’t behaving… I have a habit of tapping my leg (and getting cranky at slow drivers) when I’m nervous  and I think I nearly tapped a hole right through my leg (and perhaps got cranky at a few leisurely drivers) on the way over there.

And then there was a traffic jam on Milton Road.  Bollocks.

Needless to say, we were late for our own homecoming.  I swear I’d be late to my own funeral, I just can’t help it.

———————————————————————————————————————

So, we FINALLY arrived at Lucas’ place and had a quick drink and chat with his wife, Larissa, and his son Bill.  Then it was time to go.  I didn’t really know what to expect… I thought a whole heap of people would be waiting out the back and leap out and scream “Surprise!!” or something.  We were told we’d be shown where to park when we got there… Getting so excited now… LOTS of butterflies in the tummy!!

When we drove around the bend nearing our house, I welled up.  We were finally going home!! And then I saw two lines of people, one line either side of the street.  All the people who had helped us… with the rebuilding, with the clean up, with the pain.  I was trying not to show my emotions, I’d kept them in check for so long now. But I couldn’t help it.  It was lovely.

We were guided up through the people, while they cheered and clapped, and we both cried. (It was funny – out of habit I just went to bypass them and walk straight in the front door – LOL!)  I stopped and hugged our neighbours, our friends and family, the people who had been there for us through thick and thin. Josh thought he was in seventh heaven – a roadblock and all these people here at his house clapping at him! The news camera walked along in front of us – it was quite overwhelming… You know when you’re kind of not really there?

———————————————————————————————————————

I almost walked right past Lucas at the end of the line… When I saw him, I gave him a hug and then he took us through the gate and handed us the keys.  (Which I couldn’t get to work because my hands were shaking so much!)  They had even tied a ribbon around the front door!  And then… click… and…

O… M… G…

You cannot be serious!  This is NOT our house!  Get out of town!  (I can’t think of any other exclamations I can make, but you get the picture.) It was AMAZING!

For years, I have drooled over my Real Living magazines, display home brochures, and Mater Prize Home tickets wishing that my home would be like that.  And now it was.  Truly, it was like a display home, like brand new… You’d never even know that it was a thirty year old house! I was (and still am) blown away by how beautiful it is.  And so BIG!!  I never knew how big and un-poky our little house could look!  I tell you, a bit of botox and a facelift, a new wardrobe, and the old girl came up a million dollars.

We went through each room and took it all in.  Josh was beside himself – he was so excited by his room!  There were some toys there for him, and you could just tell he was tickled pink.  He was racing around the house looking in all the rooms and oohing and aahing.  I don’t think he could believe it was our house either!  The bathroom of my dreams… and the kitchen!! I loved our “old” new kitchen, but this one takes the cake! Seriously, it is gorgeous, and perfect, and wonderful.  Being home again and seeing it like this made everything that had happened seem like a distant memory.

We then invited everyone through, had some photos, were interviewed by the journalist, did the speeches, had a sausage sizzle, and a grand old time.  It was truly wonderful.  My heart still feels happy when I think of that day.  It was a weird feeling for it to be such a treat to be home, but so so amazing.  I never want to leave again.

———————————————————————————————————————

So, without further ado and rambling on my part… may I present to you our new (and very much improved) home!  Before and afters so you get the full effect and see it from our perspective, as the last time I saw our place it was an empty shell ;)

From outside – BEFORE:

And AFTER (a bit of an improvement in itself don’t you think?):

Dining/Living/Kitchen – BEFORE:

And AFTER:

Living Room – BEFORE (points if you can spot the baby :p):

And AFTER:

Bathroom/Toilet – BEFORE:

And AFTER:

Hallway – the wall there on the right used to be our laundry – BEFORE:

And AFTER – the laundry is now my office, so the kids can have their own rooms – yay!!

Josh’s Room – BEFORE (this was taken on my phone when we were evacuating, it wasn’t always so trashy looking LOL):

And AFTER:

Pretty amazing huh?  I can’t thank all the people involved enough for everything they did to make our house our home again.  The fact that a group of kind hearted individuals, charities and business owners came together to do this for us is truly heartwarming, and will never be forgotten by us.  Or anyone else who has been following our story, I’m sure.

———————————————————————————————————————

It was magical to wake up the next morning in our own bed.  In the quiet of our suburb that we had grown to love.  The birds chirping.  The sun shining.  I woke up, looked around and started crying again.  It just felt so RIGHT to be home. This is where we belong.  We went through the house again and took everything in again… Maybe to check that it was really real.  Plus there was still so much to be discovered.  It was almost like when we first bought the house, and were so excited to finally have a place to call our own.

———————————————————————————————————————

We’ve been home six weeks now, and it’s still just as wonderful.  Sure, there was an adjustment phase at first… After the initial buzz wore off, we were both a bit homesick for my Dad’s place, believe it or not.  It’s hard to spend so much time somewhere, be surrounded by people and love and not get attached to it.  I kind of felt a bit lost for a week or two, finding my feet.  Trying to pick up where we’d left off, trying to get the kids into some type of routine.  We’d all shared a bed for three months, so there were some tough habits to break.  Josh has adjusted pretty well, but Lola still sleeps with us. I’d have moments where I’d get really sad for our old house, and all we’ve lost.  Sad that WE didn’t get to do this to the house ourselves by our own choice.  I’d discover more things were lost and get really teary and angry.  And I felt a bit lonely too.  I missed having someone to talk to any time of the day.

But that’s the reality of something like this… I don’t think you ever truly forget.  And there are still bound to be moments like that and I have to allow myself to have them.  But they have passed for the most part. Now, I’m just really enjoying being home.  I’m enjoying cleaning and all that boring stuff that used to be the bane of my existence.  I love washing.  I love vacuuming.  I love picking up after the cyclone that is Josh.  I love grocery shopping.  I love cooking.  I love organising. I love taking photos again. I’ve been enjoying just being a Mum to these two crazy kids and making up for some of the time we’ve lost…

When I first started writing about our experience with the flood on my blog, it was purely a cathartic exercise, nothing more and nothing less.  I really needed to just get it all out of my head, and in a way I wanted to always remember it.  So that when I’m feeling down about breaking a nail or something ridiculous, I can look back and remember that there really are worse things that can happen.  And I wanted to give people an insight into what it’s really like to go through something like that.  I have had the unique opportunity to share my experience, something that a lot of people will never experience in their lifetime.

But what I got from it was so much more.  I never expected the outpouring of love and support that we have received.  All of your messages, comments, emails… they really have meant the world not only to me, but my whole family.  It has made it so much easier to get through this knowing that I had people to share my journey with, who would open their hearts and make us feel loved, even though we’d never met.  I am so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community, both online and in real life.

Thank you.

Zoe

Missing Pieces…

The last three months I have been numb.  I haven’t allowed myself to feel anything.  Happiness, sadness, elation, disappointment… They come and go, but I don’t let myself hold onto anything for too long, otherwise I’d go insane. But now, as the time is coming up for us to go back home, I’m feeling it. Feeling it all, and it’s hitting me again like it’s that day when we found our home in ruins.

I’ve read and re-read my posts about the flood countless times.  I almost know it by heart.  In the beginning, I’d read it every day, now maybe once a week or so.  I think maybe it’s to check and see if I’ll fall apart.  And so far I haven’t.  I remember asking Marty a while ago why it hadn’t hit me, and when he thought it might. I thought maybe it never would.

But tonight I re-read my posts again, and I cried.  I can’t stop shaking.  I remember it now.  It’s not just a story that I’ve been telling.  I’ve actually been there, and now I’m remembering it.  All these feelings that I’ve been holding onto for months are coming to the surface, and I don’t know why.

I feel stupid.  Stupid because of the things I left behind.  Why didn’t we come back for one more load of stuff?  Why did I leave my camera lenses and graphics tablet in a baby bath thinking they’d be safe because it would float?  They would have taken no room in the car, why didn’t I take them?  Why didn’t I realise that for there to be one foot of water through the house, there would have to have been six foot of water on the road and we wouldn’t be able to go back?  My office was the last room we packed before we evacuated, and we didn’t have much room or energy left. Why, when he asked me if I wanted to take any of my scrapping supplies, did I throw my hands up in the air and say “don’t worry, it’s all replaceable”.  Why did I think I’d be able to justify replacing those things when they are so un-necessary but important to me?

I feel angry.  Angry at myself because I forgot that I moved a lot of photo albums into the closet when I was nesting only six weeks before.  I thought Marty had said they’d all been saved, so I hadn’t checked them.  Then the other day I went to go through them and discovered that while some had been, a lot of my photos were still sitting in albums, covered in water and are ruined.  And rushing to find the negatives, I found the same with them.  Ruined, all of them.  Big soggy messes of bleeding colours, maybe with a few faces poking out from the blur.

IMG_7598

IMG_7605

I can’t replace those.

Especially the ones of my brother who has passed away.  I’d specially chosen those ones from my Mum’s collection because they were the few that had me and him together.  There’s going to be a whole section of my life that’s missing.  I won’t be able to show my kids what I looked like between the ages of two and twenty.  I won’t be able to show them their uncle who they will never meet.  I won’t have that funny photo of me playing the piano in the nude at four.  I won’t have the photo of me and my sister in our tutus.  I won’t have those photos of my fourth birthday party with all my Barbies lined up on the table. I won’t have those photos.  And it makes me angry.

IMG_7601

I’m angry that there are so many missing pieces.  Pieces of me that I can’t get back.

And then I think back to the early days when we were so desperate.  I remember my friend Eleana coming over with a car load of groceries, and me standing there, on the street, doing my “shopping”, and feeling that I had hit my lowest ebb.  My friend Emma bought us a whole heap of groceries too, and clothes for the kids, and I was so grateful.  But at the same time, I was so ashamed.  I remember crying the first time we went to the grocery store after it happened because we had nowhere to buy for.  We didn’t have a home anymore.  It all seemed pointless.  I remember Marty wanting to buy a razor, but refusing because we couldn’t afford it now.

I remember thinking, this isn’t what I had imagined our life to become.  We’d worked hard to be able to afford things.  Now we were worried that we couldn’t even afford to buy a bloody razor.  It was soul destroying.  It was embarrassing.  I hated that our pride had been taken away from us.

And then I remember that phone call.  This wonderful opportunity, this LIFELINE that we’ve been given.  And I feel stupid all over again for feeling all this stuff now, especially now that it’s all going to be okay.

I’m excited to go home.  I can’t wait to see it… Marty said it will blow me away when I see the magic they have worked on our home.

BUT.  I’m so scared.  Of it happening again.  Of being alone.  Of starting again.  Of moving on.

I’m scared of having no control again.  Of not being able to protect my family from the horrors of a disaster like this.  Again.

Josh was excited to be going home, but as it draws nearer he’s been really distressed.  We should never have taken him to the house when it was all stripped bare.  I should have realised that would scare him.  Every day this week, he’s screamed for close to an hour when I tell him we’re going home.  He wouldn’t tell me why.  Then tonight I got it out of him.

He’s scared of the “broken house” as he now calls it.  It will have monsters.  It’s scary there.

I feel bad that our little boy has had his safe place taken away from him.  I can only hope that when he sees it all, new and beautiful, that he will be happy to be there again.  That he will love his new room, that he will be proud to show it off to all and sundry again.  I just hope he feels safe again there one day, and that his little head isn’t filled with nightmares about the scary, broken house with all the stinky mud.

Ahhh… that’s better, just needed to get it all out of my head or I could kiss any chance of sleep goodbye for tonight.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE!! It’s only a week… yes a WEEK til we get to go home!! Yippee!!  I tell you, those boys don’t muck around!  I haven’t been allowed back there for a couple of weeks now, so I can have a big surprise.  Last I saw, all the plasterboard was hung, and I tell you… that in itself was amazing!  To see walls again… It was starting to look like home.

Marty got busted there the other day having a sneak peek, and he said it’s beyond our wildest dreams.  It’s like we’ve always dreamed our home to be, but would never have been able to do ourselves.  I truly can’t wait.  I think that’s why I’m struggling this week with it all.  It’s like the last week of being pregnant.  You’re sick of it all, you just want it all to be over with, and time just doesn’t want to move.

The next instalment will be grand, I promise!

Zoe

Isn’t She Lovely…

Don’t you just want to eat her up?

Couldn’t you get lost in those big, soulful eyes? I know I do.  Doesn’t she make you want to have five more babies just so you can have one of those soft and sweet little things to snuggle again?? She makes me feel that way every day, and I feel so lucky that I do have that soft and sweet thing to snuggle.

Lola is a beautiful baby… Every morning I wake up next to her and I fall in love all over again. And then she wakes up, looks at me and smiles and gurgles and kicks her little legs and arms about, full of excitement to see me. And I know that she’s in love too.  She’s a Mummy’s girl, that’s for sure. {Yes, I know that being her food source helps my case immensely, but never mind that LOL}

I never get tired of seeing her smile.  Every time she smiles it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time all over again and I melt. Her smile is the happiest thing you could ever see in your life.  Her eyes light up and crinkle and she gets a little dimple just on one side. And I’m lucky because she smiles so freely, I get that melting feeling several times an hour.

She makes me happy with her simple happiness. She has made everything that has happened so much easier to bare.  I love her.

Zoe

A Little Ray Of Hope…

Just eight short weeks ago, our lives changed forever.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been eight weeks since that horrible Wednesday.  Sometimes it feels like it’s been years since we’ve been home.

It’s been a long road.  It’s been hard to find a new normal.  It’s been hard not to have our own space and no alone time as a family, apart from our brief escapes to the park of an afternoon.  It’s been hard to have all of us share a bed for nearly two months. It’s been hard to go through the things that were saved, but always have that sadness at the things that weren’t. It’s been hard to be homeless. To lose all dignity and pride when asking for help because we need it.

It’s been hard to wait, to grieve, to hope for anything.

In the beginning, I found it hard to imagine how we’d get home.  I’ve always had a knack for working my way around things, out of things. I’ve always believed in the saying “when one door closes, another one opens”, because that has always been my experience.  You have to go through the bad to get to the good.  But no matter how hard I thought, planned, imagined, I couldn’t figure a way out of this. In the first few weeks, I was so desperate to find us a place to live, to find a way to afford a house to rent as well as pay the mortgage.  But I knew it wasn’t possible.  In my frustration, I would sit here on the balcony and wish that I could conjure a house out of thin air. For that seemed much more feasible than being able to rebuild our home.

And then early one Sunday morning, a couple of weeks ago, I got a little ray of hope.

My step-mum, Leanne, came in at 7:30 in the morning on this day with the phone in her hand. She told me that a man called Lucas was on the phone and wanted to speak to me.  I was disoriented and confused as to why someone would want to speak to me so early on a Sunday morning. {I even thought maybe a long-lost relative might have passed away and this man – perhaps a long-lost fifteenth cousin twice removed – was going to inform me of a vast inheritance LOL}.

He told me he had an offer for us, he had gotten our details through the Lion’s Club, but would like to meet with us to discuss it further.  We set up a meeting at his house for 11:00 that morning.  Boy, this must be serious!

We were as nervous as if we were going for a job interview on the drive over there.  We really had no idea what it was all about.  We thought maybe they were going to offer to do our floors, our plastering, or something like that.  After the time we’d had we dared not get our hopes up for anything.  In our situation, if someone wanted to give us a new letterbox we’d be happy!

We got there and met with Lucas and his lovely wife, in their lovely home.  He asked about our situation.  We told them our story, showed photos. What they were offering was unbelievable.

They had already heard of our plight through a very special person who had put our name forward for a big project. You see, Lucas is the head of construction at John Paul College, and they wanted to rebuild a home for a young family who had been devastated by the floods.

As he put it, they’ll start at the front gate and go all the way through to the back yard. They will use their team of builders, contractors, landscapers, the plasterer, interior designers, the works, to do it all, donating their time, materials and efforts to the project.  He said they put Jamie Durie to shame.

So, really I should say it’s a massive ray of hope.  Not so little after all!

And the most wonderful thing is… they chose us!!!!!!!

THEY CHOSE US!!!

We feel like we have well and truly won the lottery.

We had to go for a meeting last Monday morning at the school to make it all official.  We met the headmaster, Warren, and so many other people it was mind boggling! We thought it would be a little meet and greet, but when we went to meet the building team we were absolutely blown away! There were so many people there, each offering a service. The builder, electrician, data cabler, flooring people, benchtop people, kitchen people, interior designer, architects, landscapers… Seriously, I have never seen anything like it!

I haven’t cried for weeks, but when I got up to say thank you to them all, that we would never in a million years be able to have rebuilt our home without them, I cried. We are just so grateful.  So happy to have the chance to go back home. To have a home for our kids again. To have so much done for us without the stress. To have that weight finally lifted from our shoulders.

The last week has been a flurry of meetings with architects, interior designers, the kitchen people.  And you know the best thing?? When I asked Lucas how long he thought it would be until we got back home, he said probably three or four weeks!

THREE OR FOUR WEEKS!!!!! This nightmare is finally going to be over.

Thank you John Paul College. From the bottom of our hearts.

And thank you to the person who put us forward for this amazing opportunity.  For doing it because they knew we would never have put our hand up ourselves. For thinking enough of us to want to do that.  I like to think of them as our “Fairy Godmother”.

Zoe

Stop… Hammer Time!

Have I ever told you that Marty is the master of Hammer Time?

He once dislocated his knee doing Hammer Time. I have now banned him from doing Hammer Time due to him having to have a knee reconstruction because of said dislocation.

And now the next generation of Hammer Time dancers is born…

Happy Monday! :D

Zoe

So Excited…

Yes… I just saw that my first ever signature fabric line, Sweet Nothings, is available for Pre-Order from Riley Blake.  Eep!!

(BTW – signature = “by Zoe Pearn” not “by My Mind’s Eye”. Not that I mind that most of my fabrics are “by My Mind’s Eye”, but you know… it’s kind of exciting)

Yes, did I mention it’s by Zoe Pearn?  It’s even on the selvage. My name is printed on selvage. Of fabric.  Eeeeep!!

It’s so pretty!!  The hero print is my most intricate and detailed pattern ever.  It took me a week solid to do that thing. I’m so excited.  I can’t wait to get some!! I can see lots of bunting for my little Lola’s room (whenever we get home that is), and dresses and toys… (when I get a sewing machine again that is) LOL :P

Print

{It comes in three color-ways, and they’re all just as pretty}

Yippeeeeee!!!

Zoe
←Older