Blossom socks

Here's a first! Just myself and my littlest man home today. Daniel has started kindy this term (we kept him home for half a year to allow him to mature a little more), and the other children were finally all well enough to go to school.

Marcus took it all in his stride, and enjoyed hanging around while I screen-printed.

We did have a little accident (he generally considers it his duty to run over any fabric I have on the ground, so I should have seen this one coming! – you can see that he feels very bad!)

The best part of all was cleaning out the screen afterwards, and playing with the water runoff. Of course!

 

Plans fulfilled, plans dashed, God’s Plan

So we slipped away for a couple of weeks for a wonderful family holiday touring New South Wales. I don't like to pre-announce or share our holidays online while they're happening, but you will have to put up with me sharing some (lots of) pictures with you now (just look away if you're not interested!). We had such a wonderful time, and experienced so many beautiful parts of God's creation in Australia. Previously, the only time I'd spent in the eastern states was a few days here and there in Melbourne.

I ambitiously took my sketchbook (and a spare) along, as I have found that our summer camping holidays tend to be prime drawing time for me. Ha ha! I've learnt that a winter road trip is quite a different event to a summer camping trip. We saw and did so much, but drawing was not on the cards (it's one of those things I dream of doing much more easily once the children are all grown up).

Travelling with five children (especially a one year old and a four year old) is no mean feat. Staying in hotels, travelling public transport, lugging seven duffle bags, sourcing breakfast, lunch and dinner, fitting in afternoon naps and reasonable bed times… And I'm fairly certain we visited all the public toilets in Sydney and Southern NSW. (Phil and I make an agreement before we left to be patient about toilet requests during the holiday, but we failed a few times “Seriously? You only just went five minutes ago, and ten minutes before that too!”). But we noted how often we got so much pleasure from the fact that the children were with us – introducing them to new concepts and experiences, enjoying little things along the way, making the most of so many teaching moments, and stopping at all the great playgrounds along the way ;)

We started with a few days in Sydney – lot's of walking around The Rocks, Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. We enjoyed the National Maritime Museum, and also took a ferry out to Manly for a day. Just being in a big city (and staying in a hotel) was a huge experience for the children.

Then we based ourselves in a town called Berry, about two hours south of Sydney. What a beautiful place! We thoroughly enjoyed our few days there, and would go back any day – beautiful mountains and forest, antique shopping, book shopping, coffee shops and more. And of course, the Berry Patchwork Shop. It was lovely to meet you, Elizabeth! While we stayed here, we saw wombats, lyrebirds, dolphins and whales, so everyone was pretty thrilled with that.

Being a winter holiday, we couldn't miss the snow! Daniel has begged to go to 'snow country' ever since he could talk. Most of the time that we were in Jindabyne, the conditions at the snow were blizzard-like. So, not at all like the cute picture book illustrations, but we told the children that it's all part of the adventure!

As we planned this holiday, we spoke with the children about how we can make good plans, but God may just have other plans for us. We were making plans to visit the snow, but wanted to prepare them for the fact that there are many things that can prevent such plans from happening as we would like. So we often spoke in terms of 'on Wednesday we are going to the snow, the Lord willing'. In fact, this holiday came about when our initial plans to visit New Zealand in January 2015 had to be changed due to the new baby we are expecting. We were very blessed that our holiday went so smoothly. We saw and experienced everything we'd hoped to and more. But then we emerged from a beautiful morning in the snow on Friday to the shocking news that MH17 had been downed, and that family friends (I grew up calling them Uncle and Aunty) were on board. So hard to grasp and impossible to understand. I know that God has the whole world in his Hands and will call everyone to account for what they have done. And I know that He is able to carry the family and wider community through this difficult time, and that His Name will be glorified through that. May all those affected find true Peace and Comfort!

Needless to say, the rest of the trip had a different tone to it. It seemed fitting that the next day was spent at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. It was a good opportunity to talk with the children about the plane incident, about the blessing of living here in a free country, about the sacrifice of so many men (and women) throughout the years, and about how God directs history.

The Australian War Memorial is such a treasure. Even though the WW1 exhibits were closed for renovation, we could have still spent more time exploring. It would definitely be a regular destination if we lived closer!

The last few days were spent in the Blue Mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed driving through the region, visiting the little towns along the way, and exploring the forest at Scenic World. The last few days of hour holiday we were all battling a nasty virus – to the extent that we had to disembark our original flight, and stay in Sydney for an extra night. A small drama, but it didn't take away from an absolutely fabulous holiday. So many new experiences. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the landscape and plants changed as we drove through the region. So much natural beauty! And the little towns, with so many old buildings!

So thankful for this opportunity to see more of this beautiful world, and to spend time together as family.

 

In My Portfolio: High Summer

High Summer
© Ruth de Vos 2013

Currently on display as part of ‘stitched & bound 2014 back to the Razor’s edge’ at Heathcote Museum and Gallery, Western Australia

Size: 194 by 176 cm
Materials: Procion fabric dye, fabric paint, cotton homespun, cotton linen blend fabric, cotton batting
Techniques: hand-dyed, screen-printed, machine-pieced, machine-quilted

Mid summer. Everyone at the beach. Everyone at the beach is in the water, the sand’s too hot. The kind of hot where you leap/run/dance across the sand yelping, with esky, towels, kids and surfboards in hand till you plunge sizzling into the water. It’s bright, too. The kind of bright where you can’t help but squint. The reflections glistening off the water are too bright and the glare reflecting off the white beach sand is even brighter. The perfect kind of summer day.

In My Portfolio: Eucalypt Excerpt 7

This my final weekly challenge for this term. It's been a great project and has certainly helped me to find my way again with regard to my botanical quilts. Thanks so much for all your feedback along the way. It means a lot to me!

Eucalypt Excerpt 7

(c) Ruth de Vos 2014

Size: 40cm by 40cm

Materials: Procion fabric dye, fabric paint, cotton homespun, linen, cotton batting

Techniques: hand-dyed, screen-printed, hand-painted, machine-pieced machine-quilted

 

Organise: Tidying the Kids’ Treasure

On Saturday we tackled that big job that kickstarts every school holidays at our house – the childrens’ treasure.

Don’t children accumulate so much junk treasure? Drawings, stationery, egg carton caterpillars, empty toilet rolls, rocks, leaves, lolly wrappers…

Each of our children have a small chest of drawers and a couple or larger drawers or baskets in their bedroom for containing their treasure. The basic rules surrounding these is that their junk must fit in these drawers/containers. If it doesn’t fit, it’s time to throw some things away.

And most school holidays, they need to sort through it all. It’s tempting to do that myself while the kids aren’t looking but I resist that urge. It’s such a good learning curve for the kids to work through this themselves, with my guidance. (OK, one little disclaimer – last week I went through Daniel’s drawers and threw out all the empty toilet rolls and tiny scraps of paper while he wasn’t looking).

Here’s some things I’ve learnt along the way:

  • Younger children will need more guidance. Work on it together and ask questions like “will you look at it again?” “Have you used it in the last year?” “Is it special?” With a bit of prompting they can usually decide for themselves whether something is worth keeping. I don’t argue too much, as long as it all fits within their drawers and there is room for more things to accumulate over the coming school term.
  • Sometimes, when getting started, a child will need some extra encouragement to part with stuff. Say things like “It’s a beautiful picture, but you can make more beautiful pictures” or “It was nice to have for a while, but you don’t need to keep everything”.
  • Over time, the children become more independent when it comes to sorting their treasure – they know it’s a job worth doing properly, and they learn to part with their less valuable things.
  • We try to keep their drawers sorted into categories such as papers, notebooks, stickers, stationery, nic nacs.
  • Some of my kids thrive on sorting through their treasure, and decluttering. Others, like Hannah find it overwhelming. I often need to sit down with Hannah and get her started. I go about halfway with her, and then ask her to do the rest by herself.
  • We have a strict moratorium on the transfer of junk treasure between siblings. After all, the point is to declutter! Much of what the children part with really is junk. If it isn’t, it goes to the opshop, or after discussion with me, it might go to a younger sibling.

(for example, I made an exception on this collection of stickers from Aaron. Daniel and Caleb spent a happy morning sharing them out between them)

 

  • On a similar note, some children can get a bit too carried away with decluttering. Some times I need to remind them of the value of certain things, like the fact that it was a special gift from someone.
  • ALL the children are happy once the job is completed! They know what they have in those drawers, and where to find it all, and they’re always full of fresh ideas of things to do with their spare time.
  • That’s why we always tackle this job at the beginning of the school holidays!

Another bonus is that the children start to realise just how much stuff they continually accumulate (from their own birthdays, in party bags, and who knows where else) and that maybe they really don’t need to have quite so much ‘stuff’!

 

 

In My Portfolio: Eucalyptus Excerpt 6

Pieced eucalyptus blossoms were a major feature of my first solo exhibition. See 'In Good Company' and 'Not Even Solomon'. For the longest time, though, I haven't pieced another blossom, and the idea of doing so was quite simply daunting. I was determined to dip my toes back into the wonderful world of pieced filamentous blossoms in this experimental series, though, so here's last week's challenge piece.

Eucalyptus Excerpt 6

(c) Ruth de Vos 2014

Size: 40cm by 40cm

Materials: Procion fabric dye, fabric paint cotton homespun, cotton linen blend fabric, cotton batting

Techniques: hand-dyed, screen-printed, hand-painted, machine-pieced, machine-quilted

This week is the last week of this school term, which means I am currently finishing up my last weekly challenge quilt. I 'm planning share it here next week.

 

Custom Childhood Textile Portraits

If you are looking for a stand-out piece of art for your living room or master bedroom, or maybe a special gift for a special wedding anniversary, consider commissioning a childhood textile portrait.

I can make one in your preferred style, featuring your children, or you and your siblings as children!

Email me (ruth{at}ruthdevos.com) for a digital brochure with further information, or with any questions you may have!

 

When things aren’t working

Marcus came down with croup in Saturday night and was very sick for four days – wheezing, fevers, sore throat – I don't recall one of our children being so sick for so long. While he was awake, he alternated between climbing on to my lap for snuggles, and then off to play for maybe five minutes, then back on, and so ad infinitum. I didn't manage much else besides a bit of reading during that time! Finally on Thursday, though still quite miserable, the fever had broken and he started venturing off to play for longer stretches.

By then I was feeling unmotivated, uninspired, bored, restless… probably due to many days indoors and frustratingly low energy levels. It doesn't happen very often that I feel 'bored' at home! The boys were also restless, and sick of being at home.

So this morning we ignored The List and got out. We went on a little adventure with our bike. We found a local creek, rode through a tunnel (underpass) and followed the creek upstream as far as we could. Then we followed it back downstream into town and the local playground. It doesn't take much to have an adventure with little ones!

And best of all, the playground in town has a coffee shop right next door.

We all came home feeling much better! Marcus slept well, Daniel played with new focus, and I managed to tackle some more stitching again.

What do you do when things just aren't working at home?

 

The Weekend

Did you have a good weekend? Mine included so many good things – some company, loads of inspiration, lot's of rain, and quiet time inside. It began at full steam with on overnight bush survival camp with Hannah's class. We have a paddock at school with some patches of 'bush'. The kids had to build shelters, light campfires (no small feat when everything is damp) and cook their own dinner on the fire (baked potato, baked apple and damper). A great experience for them all!
And from the camp I went straight to a Creative Business Workshop, organised by Meghan Plowman and presented by Laura Wortlock of Once Was Lost. Laura was delightful to listen to, and gave me so much to think about. My mind is still buzzing!
To top it off the setting was lovely (Zinnia Floral Designs), the space was set up really nicely, there was amazing coffee as required (Micrology Roasters – it was so good – says she who hasn't enjoyed coffee in at least five weeks!), and delicious (and healthy) snacks by nood. A real treat!
Then the wild weather hit. Along with the croup.

I love the wild winter weather (especially when we're able to stay home and inside), but the croup, not so much! After three nights of sleeping on the playroom floor (where it's a bit warmer) with Marcus, he's still feeling rather miserable. Here's hoping that at the very least, we all get to sleep in our own beds tonight!