Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

It's only fair that I should tell you right up front, you should grab a sweet-salty snack and a cup of something thirst quenching...
For today, I am going to tell you a story. It is a true story that I have been working up to tell for some time. A story that started about 6 years ago, I reckon. It will take two whole posts to tell it. It's an odd kind of story because it only has a beginning, so far. There's no middle, or end, or tidy summary to bring it all back home.

It is a story about being a mama, a story about not 'hiding under a pile of coats' - but mostly, it is a story about a girl who loves wild horses.

Long ago, but not so long ago that I don't remember it perfectly... The Engineer and I, happily ensconced in our little green cottage, had a conversation and made a decision. We weren't going to "try" so to speak, we were going to just stop trying not to. Little did we know that someone had already got the memo a couple of weeks before us. I do think the engineer was a hoping there would be more 'work' involved in the getting there but, we were both thrilled.

It was a hard pregnancy. I was very tired and very sick. I couldn't even drink water, I had to have water with bubbles and lemon to get my recommended daily intake. There was one week where all I could get down were chocolate milk shakes, ok, that wasn't the worst week. It's all a bit of a blur now though, I mean, it's heavy work, I was making a person. That's how I thought of her from the beginning, as a person. Of course I imagined a baby, a bit of fluff and deliciousness; still, there was a person there, of us - but wholly herself.

The morning/afternoon/night/morning she finally made her debut, the most beautiful daughter in the entire world arrived. We held our breath until we got home.

It is probably best if we jump forward a bit, otherwise I could easily regale you with endless scrumptious baby stories, sleepless nights, how every time we went to market people would approach us and tell me what a remarkable child I had - 'Like a sunflower!' 'That one will change the world!' Oh, see how I managed to slip that in?

This fearless tree hugger, climber of slippery slopes, determined escaper of fortresses, super star unparalleled, rock n' roller, mover and shaker, leap before looking dynamo, full of gusto, stubborn ingenious wild child, laughing love bug, force to be reckoned with, complex little person ... was my kid!

When she bumped into walls and furniture, I attributed it to her leap before looking credo. When she ran into the street after many warnings against it, I thought her fearlessness was to blame. When she discovered how to unlock the door and make it a block away before I could catch up with her at 2 and a half years old, I was terrified and we installed a safety lock on the front door. Tenacious and determined, she was a child that needed constant vigilant supervision to keep her from tumbling down the rabbit hole or hopping a plane to Mexico.

She hated the vacuum cleaner as if it were a fire breathing dragon. Bright lights bothered her. She loved water like she was a fish. She could not ever resist dipping her hands in her dish of yogurt and rubbing it all around like lotion. To get her attention, I often had to hold her shoulders while I talked to her, even then she would have a hard time focusing on me. Looking back, I can see many things more clearly than I could at the time.

I started to notice that one of her eyes seemed to wander or not focus along with the other eye. When I brought this up to our new pediatrician, he told me not to worry about it, that everything seemed fine. Of course that is what a mother wants to hear but, 'Dr. Handsome's' cavalier attitude didn't quite sit right with me. When I brought up some other concerns, he told me not to overreact. Now, hold on a minute. I am not one to overreact, I don't rush her to the doctor when she has the sniffles, I don't freak out when she has a fever but, I had some real concerns here and I was being brushed off.

A couple of weeks later, I took her to a pediatric eye doctor to alleviate my niggling concern. Lo and behold, the child has astigmatism and needed glasses right away. That was not the end of it though. As I said, there were other concerns.

A huge debt of gratitude is owed to one preschool teacher extraordinaire. Due to her attention and vigilance, she had concerns of her own and very kindly talked with me about them. Because of her experience and her exceptional help, we found our way to the county's early childhood development team. An evaluation was done, along with heaps of paperwork, and the outcome was a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder.

-From Wikipedia: Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within the own body (visual, auditory, tactile, olfaction, gustatory, vestibular and proprioception). For those with SPD, sensory information may be sensed and perceived in a way that is different from most other people. Unlike blindness or deafness, sensory information can be received by people with SPD, the difference is that information is often registered, interpreted and processed differently by the brain. The result can be unusual ways of responding or behaving, finding things harder to do. Difficulties may typically present as difficulties planning and organising, problems with doing the activities of everyday life (self care, work and leisure activities including work and play), and for some with extreme sensitivity to sensory input; sensory input may result in extreme avoidance of activities, agitation, distress, fear or confusion.-

But what does this mean really? And what is going to happen now? What do we do, where do we go, who do we talk to?

As I have said, I am not a person that often overreacts but, on the rare occasion, I have been known to 'hide under the coats'. I was torn between the two for a minute. I had to think... what did this change about my child? Nothing. What did this change about me being a mama? I didn't know yet but, I figured I had better find out and do the best that I could. So, now I just needed to figure out the first step.

First things first, we say sayonara to 'Dr. Handsome', and say hello to a whole team of doctors, therapists, teachers and other mostly helpful folks. Read a lot, ask a lot of questions, try to understand the paperwork, have meetings, filter information, go with your gut, laugh, cry and generally put one foot in front of the other. And still, it's a bit like stumbling around in the dark.

The Engineer and I kept wondering to ourselves, what is it like through her eyes? If we could for just a moment, be her and understand...then maybe we could help ourselves be better parents to this amazing girl.

Stanley Greenspan, the author of "The Challenging Child", has an interesting analogy to help imagine what having SPD might feel like.
"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else."

Everyday I am learning new things about this disorder, and how it manifests in my daughter. I can't speak for what it means to any other child, parent, or family. I wont get into any controversy that surrounds this disorder. I can only tell you what it means to me, what I feel and experience as a mama.

This feels like a good place to pause and take a deep breath. You have been so kind and I thank you for staying with me up to this part. The story will be continued in my next post, in which I tell you how going to the market has turned me into a Ninja.

P.S. The title of this post was taken from Pony Girl's favorite book "The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" by Paul Goble. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Aimless making and embracing the wonk

Hello friends, how nice to be back after my little break. We had a lovely holiday with family and friends. Good food, conversation and a couple of days of just hanging out. During my break, with the kidlet home from school, I knew that most of my making would be spent in the kitchen, oven on, goodies baking...and not much of the crafty bits. Still, I managed to sit down a couple of times with hook in hand.

Thing is, I had no real idea of what I was going to do. Just a few leftovers of dodgy yarn and a need to make my hands move with the work.

So, what happens when you sit down to make for the sake of making, one stitch after another with no clear destination, just moving hands and color changes? One round in dc, another in hdc, an increase here, a decrease there, and you keep going ...waiting to see what it is going to be.

A pot holder? No, we've gone too far for that. A sweet little bag? No, I don't think so. Oh say, how about a basket? A four apple cozy? Now that's an idea!

Silly thing, all full of wonk, hardly graceful or even, or truly pretty. Still, I really enjoyed the act, the not knowing, the aimless making of it. It is useful and loved and I embraced the wonk whole heartedly!

A lesson in letting go and not pinching my perfectionist 'till I'm bruised. It is what it is, and I like it.

Oh, did I tell you I made a hat? He he. She loves the hat, the face is her "I've reached my photo limit mama" expression.

Now I'm off to see what's been going on out there in blogland while I was away! Have a stellar day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Friday!

I'm gearing up for next weeks school holiday and family holiday. Truth be told my head is in a spin and a last minute B-day pres is required for tonight! Eeek! With all the planning, cooking, making, and general full house mayhem, I think that it might be wise for me to take a little blog break. So, I hope that you and yours have a truly wonderful week next week while I'm away being very thankful for all I have.

Oh yes, I have fallen behind on my own self portrait challenge, I know, I know. I could have picked a better time of year for this really! In any case, I do have one from Halloween that I have been remiss in showing you. The process of this photo has led me to the discovery of feather eyelashes, more fun than I ever would have imagined!

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Color pop

1. Untitled, 2. corner, 3. Pretty Collections, 4. Old wood spools, 5. Studio 5 ~ yarn, fabric, punches, 6. Untitled, 7. 30's Doll Quilt 2, 8. Sept 29, 2010 318, 9. sous-plats1

Tis a dark and blustery day. I felt the need for a strong dose of color to brighten up the place. Chosen from my flickr favorites, I have put together a color pop! Oh yes, it's making me feel better already!

Have a colorful day my dears!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hello Monday - Calling all elves

Hello lovelies! There has been much talk of the onset of winter here in the little green cottage. Chill and wet with a dreary sky but, we wont let that get us down. No, I have been beavering away on the making and doing, hunkering down and getting to the business end of things. All the while channeling some serious whimsy (wait, whimsy isn't serious)!

Journals, journals, journals! Ha! Whilst I think my latest journals are perfectly suited to just about anyone, I think this newest batch has a certain childlike fancy. Wonderful gifts for young budding writers.

I myself, am a little partial to The Roller Derby Queen here, it's the metal eyelets, they delight me I must say.

...and because nary a day goes by that an enchanted Pegasus doesn't pop up in our imaginary play, I just had to make this little number.

All of these journals have found their way to my little shop, just waiting for their new "for always" homes.

This week I have lots more in the works, I am hoping to bring back the very popular 'Hook Books' and maybe a couple of new things too! I could use some help though, there's still all the presents for family left to be done as well...so if you know any elves who are willing to work for homemade stew and freshly baked bread, please send them my way. It's the little green cottage with the 'free range' chickens wandering about on the front steps. You can't miss it!

What have you been doing to get ready for the season?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Swimming with sharks

It's a school holiday and a cold dreary day outside, what are we to do to keep us from going a bit bonkers indoors? We have decided on a whim to pack our scuba gear, head for tropical waters and go swimming with sharks! As you can see, Pony Girl - amongst her many talents - is also a fish whisperer. We will explore underwater caves (hall closet), we are gypsy deep-sea divers looking for shipwrecks in dangerous waters (PG's bedroom), and we will study sharks in their natural habitat (the bathtub).

Unless we are captured by The Dread Pirate Roberts, I will be back on Monday.

Have an adventurous weekend my friends!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lola on the town...Part 2

As promised, here is Part 2 of my weekend gallivant about the lovely city of Portland. Today's installment is about my solo jaunt to down town for Little Winter, a handmade market.
Perhaps you are asking yourself, 'How on earth did she get so much free time off on her own, to do as she pleased? No little rascal tugging upon her arm or playing bull in a china shop? No Mr. impatiently shifting his weight from one foot to the other before finally announcing he'll go wait in the car? How can that be?'
Let's just say I owe a big thanks to The Engineer. He took Pony Girl off on other adventures or got her ready for bed whilst I was out and about. I think he saw the glimmer of madness in my eyes, knew that the cabin fever had struck, and very graciously (and wisely) said to me, "Go for it!"

Created by Abby Powell Thompson of Abby Try Again and Chelsea Fuss of Frolic!, Little Winter is a handmade market featuring 20+ artists and craftspeople from Portland and beyond." The market ran for 2 days this weekend.
So, on Saturday I put on my best pair of stripey socks, my good luck necklace, and threw caution to the wind as I headed down town. As I approached the building, I could see that already there was a buzz of excitement and a general milling about. The place was styled beautifully. I wish I could have grabbed a decent photo of the place, especially the black and white gingham curtains...I'm a sucker for a nice gingham you know. The space had a sort of stylized old one room schoolhouse feel. I liked it.

There was so much pretty going on. All the vendors wares were quite lovely and it was nice to see in person and up close, what I have seen only in blog land. For a list of vendors go to the web site and it's on the sidebar.

The item I was most enchanted by, were these wonderful tiny wooden houses with wee plants growing out of them, by my house party.

There were a couple of drawbacks to the market. One was I think, a matter of timing on my part. I went right after opening and the place was jammed. Good for the market but, not so great for one trying to get a good look at everything. I might have been better off waiting till later in the day or, gone the 2nd day. Because it was so tight, I couldn't imagine staying too long.

The other downside, it would have been the perfect outing to have along a friend, an artsy-craftsy gal pal to peruse and discuss with. Afterwards sharing a pleasant lunch and trading our observations. That would have been most nice. Still, I did enjoy myself and I wasn't entirely alone, I brought Nadine the Nikon with me and she took some sweet photos.

Afterwards, I took myself to lunch at one of Portland's most excellent food carts. It was delish!

I have learned that I need to make it a point to get out on the town more often, maybe I can swing it once a month or so. I live in an amazing place and I don't want to take it for granted.

What are some of the great things about your home town?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lola on the town

Part One
Have I mentioned lately how much I love where I live? No? Then I have been remiss. Portland is one amazing city. Sometimes though, I don't get the chance to go out and see just how amazing; there is a lot going on 'round here! This weekend I decided that it was high time I ventured out on the town to have a look-see at the local happenings.

On Friday night I took myself out to Modern Domestic for their open house. This fantastic place is just up the street from The little green cottage, lucky me. Let me tell y'all about this local gem...actually, why don't I let the folks of MD tell you themselves.

"Modern Domestic is a sewing studio and retail space offering two fully equipped classrooms, a comfortable seating area and a growing community of creative makers. We offer classes in sewing for all skill levels, whether you’ve never touched a machine before or you’re continuing your mastery of the craft. Our classes cover (but are not limited to): beginning sewing, sewing for kids and teens, felting, silk screen, intermediate and advanced sewing." -from the web site

Three lovely ladies from the neighborhood opened this venture together. I am so pleased it's just 'round the corner!

I felt immediately drawn in by the warm atmosphere, the dancing candle light, and the promise of a champagne cocktail.

Did I mention there were snacks?
The building is modern airy loft, clean lines and uncluttered, open space. With this in mind, I was impressed with how they managed to create an intimate feel to the space. A place you want to hang out and chat about bias binding, quilt batting or, the newest bakery up the street.
Clever, non-fussy displays with vintage detail were eye catching and educational.

A shelf with rows of sewing machine feet with descriptive cards telling you "what for".

Along the walls, you can see and touch the finished products from classes they offer. Which led me to make a long 'wish list' of classes that I'm itching to take. They also seem to carry all the best books.

In the upstairs classroom loft they had 'open sewing' available. During the festivities it was great to see some very clever crafty types working away on their projects. The whole atmosphere seems to be one of neighborhood and community. A truly friendly and comforting environment to learn and share.

They offer machines and tools for use while taking classes or for 'open sewing', which is pretty handy I think.

They also had some awesome giveaways...I didn't win but, I know that the folks who did are well and truly chuffed. Modern Domestic puts together terrific sewing kits with all the necessary tools to get you going down the goodly path of handmade. I'm thinking these little numbers would make stellar holiday gifts...for someone like myself for example. I'm just sayin'.

Though I didn't get to stay long, I am really glad I went. It was my first opportunity to really check out the place. They made me feel quite welcome. It was so nice to see my neighbors gathered in this cool place supporting small neighborhood business with heart. What's better than that?

If you live in the area or are planning to be in the area, please go say hi and sign up for a class.

I'll be back on Tuesday with Part 2 of Lola on the town. In which I tell all about Saturday's adventure to Little Winter, A Handmade Market!
Until then, I dare you to go have an adventure in your own back yard.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The fine print

One of those days...
I'm sure you're quite familiar with the sort. A day with lists and plans and jobs and chores and scurrying about trying to catch up. A day that makes a good argument for keeping a calendar and writing down important dates and events. Yes. I have such a calendar, it's in a spot that I walk past everyday. There it is with it's appointments, reminders, deadlines and notes in fine print. I'ts a good thing indeed. Still, a calendar is only truly useful when you look at the darn thing from time to time.
Well, that'll teach me. We were off to a rocky start from the get go and it all went tumbling off course from there. I knew it, I should have stayed in bed! Ah well, nothing terribly bad happened but, I'm still a bit out of sorts.

I think I will cheer myself up by heading out to Modern Domestic's open house this evening. If you are in the Portland area, you should check it out. Maybe I'll see you there!

Have a good weekend friends.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Seven Things

The lovely lady over at Harmony and Rosie has passed on a very nice award to me, The Versatile Blogger Award. Such a nice thing for her to do I think. The caveat is, I must share 7 things about myself that you don't already know. Now, I normally keep my blog award and tag free but, I must admit to enjoying reading what others have said about themselves so it seems only fair that I play along.
Let's see, what little tidbits can I share?

1. The last day job I had before Pony Girl came along, was at a wholesale essential oil and botanical ingredient company. I was one of the buyers for the ingredients that came from all over the world. I spent a lot of time talking with suppliers, growers, distillers etc. in countries from Australia, Egypt, Slovakia, Madagascar, China, Nepal and all points in between. I sampled and ordered French lavender oil and precious (expensive) Neroli oil. I discussed the properties of Shea butter with the women's collective in Africa who produced it. I loved the oils and learning about them, it was fascinating and intriguing. The company and it's owner, were less than desirable however.

2. When I was in my 20s I made and sold bath, tea and other herbal products, using essential oils, herbs and such. My business name was "Widow Creek".

3. One of my favorite jobs that I ever had, was as a bartender in a Hell's Angels biker bar in San Francisco. Those burly bikers took very good care of me, they referred to me as "Little Sister".

4. I have had both of my front teeth knocked out twice. Both times due to car accidents - 5 years apart. I miss my original teeth still.

5. When I was 12, I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

6. When I was young, I had a strange fear of Monchhichi dolls.

7. My first love was a 1963 Ford/Mercury Comet. Oh how I loved that car! It was a sad day when I had to sell it.

Well, I hope that was at least vaguely interesting. Now I think it's my duty to pass along this little award to a few deserving souls.

1. Homegrown Insanity
2. Little House in Paradise
3. Schtuff at Home
So ladies, if you would like to play along, we want to know all about you! I will understand if you choose to opt out. It's up to you!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello Monday - Northwest Vintage

So, I did a little virtual window shopping this weekend and discovered some pretty groovy etsy shops featuring vintage items that made me swoon. They all happen to be from my neck of the woods here in the Pacific Northwest US!

Check out that beautiful dress above, a late 30's early 40's sheer number that takes my breath away. It comes from the gorgeous shop Coral Vintage. If there was any chance at all that this lovely would fit me, it would be travelling to my door as I type. She has a wonderful collection of vintage clothing and accessories, her photos are very enticing, go look!

Next on the list is Stockshop. This is the shop Sherri, of Little House in Paradise recently opened up. I have a feeling that this is definitely a shop to watch. Her prices are quite good and she is very thorough in her descriptions. Sherri has an eye for the good stuff! I must admit, I didn't just window shop, I have indeed purchased from this great lady and was more than pleased with my loot!

Mary Beth Hale has a huge selection of 20th century vintage! I am loving these mid-century Christmas ornaments. The shop is chock full of amazing and eclectic treasures, so many wonderful things!

Hanson Stone Vintage carries gorgeous selection of vintage buttons and beads. I have my eye on some of the beauties in this nice shop.

Well, this concludes out tour of Northwest Vintage. Happy shopping and have a great Monday!