December 29th

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What a wonderful few days. It was a whirlwind of choir performances, mass, a traditional bulgarian Christmas eve feast with my sister-in-law and her bulgarian husband and all the family, a wonderful Christmas morning with all the little Duyvkens and then lunch for 21 here at our place. The sun shone, the cousins played, everyone was in good spirits, we ate ourselves silly and still had leftovers for days. It was perfect!
Today Mr Duyvken is back at work and the candy cane stash is almost depleted but it still feels like Christmas.

December 23rd

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This afternoon, while the kids were playing dress ups and generally tearing the house apart I made a table topper from a yard of Alexander Henry and binding made from a red fat quarter with tiny white spots. When I bought this a month ago I thought I would use it to make a dress for one of the girls butI realised that they each have several summer dresses and I have, as previously mentioned, a fear of garment making. This is such a great fabric and I am looking forward to using it on the Christmas table on the 25th and then pulling it out in the years to come.

December 22nd

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

There are some pieces of clothing that start to carry a meaning that goes beyond mere function. They can evoke a memory or make you feel comforted or really, really, really good looking. The pjs above mean a lot to me because they have come to signify a dream come true and because 3 of the 4 little Duyvkens have worn them and loved them.
There is a 4 year gap between G and J not because we planned it that way but because we struggled to fall pregnant after G was born. We fell eagerly into parenthood and decided to add to the family when G was about 4mths old. Month after month passed with no sign of the baby we were hoping for. We were living in a perpetually recurring two week cycle of hope and disappointment. Time doesn't behave normally in that zone, it passes both quickly and slowly, speeding up and slowing down at intervals that are impossible to predict. Before we knew it a year had passed. We saw my ob/gyn and had some standard fertility checks that showed everything was as it should be which put us in the basket labelled 'secondary non-specific sub-fertility'. As infertility labels go this isn't a bad one to have but it also leaves you with an answer that is not an answer and fertility treatment options that don't offer any higher rates of success than just continuing to try unassisted.
So, we rolled on continuing to try every month, drinking horrific tasting traditional chinese medicine concoctions, tracking basal body temperature, taking vitamin supplements and trying to reduce stress. I even had a laproscopic endoscopy to figure out why I wasn't falling pregnant!
But, the months rolled on and one recurring image helped me to feel that it would all eventually work out and there would be another baby in my arms and a sibling for G to play and bicker with . I used to imagine lying in bed on a sunny morning watching the long shadows cast across the bed by the trees in the yard and then a toddler would open the door, come bounding into the room wearing airplane pyjamas and, giggling, jump into the bed with us.
I'd often question if I was comforting myself or torturing myself but it was an image that stayed with me and, even though I was never able to find airplane pyjamas these safari pjs that my mum gave J for his 2nd birthday reminded me of that image and of a longing finally fulfilled.
J, C and now JW have all worn these pjs and I had every intention of #5 wearing them too but when JW was taking them off a few weeks ago the fabric split. They have been worn and washed so many times that there are plenty of spots where the fabric has practically worn right through and I know that just stitching it back together won't mend it permanently. I bought some white singlets and am going to make some yoyos, some flutter sleeves and some piping with the cotton top so there will be a few new tops to wear with the shorts. Hopefully, it will survive for another few years and baby#5 will be able to wear them too. Otherwise, I might have to conquer my fear of garment making, find some sweet airplane fabric and attempt to make some dream-fulfilled pjs of my own.

December 21st

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ta da!
This was such a satisfying project. The dress-ups have been overflowing from two plastic tubs in the younger 3's room for months and I have been planning on doing something about it but wasn't sure what would work. We need to fit baby #5 in there in Feb so it doesn' t make sense to get a rattan chest even though that would be ideal. Something like this would do nicely.

But space is really at a premium so I decided to make a jumbo drawstring bag. I have made so many of these now using the Happy Things tutorial that this came together in a snap and I used almost the last of my favourite Alexander Henry print, 2d zoo. The denim is from kelani fabrics and it is lined with an orange and white striped polycotton from Lincraft. For comparison, that smaller bag is one I made using the dimensions on the tutorial. J keeps his bakugan and tech decks in it.

The room looks so much neater and it doesn't take long to shovel everything back into the bag once the dress-up game is over. I luff it!

December 20th

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sometimes super heroes find it hard to disguise their true identities.

December 19th

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas lunch at my uncle's place with all the cousins - check.
Yard tidied and wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load of angophora bark removed - check.
G to choir practice - check.
Final Christmas grocery lists written - check.
Complaining about being heavily pregnant and uncomfortable - check and double check!

We drew the giveaway winner today and it was lucky #4 - Stitching in Sydney will be getting the fabric stack from Alexander's quilt. Congratulations!

December 18th

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We've been enjoying cupcakes leftover from J's 6th birthday yesterday,and setting Santa up at his workshop in the North Pole. The kids were pretty bummed to discover that the North Pole is not on a land mass but a floating ice shelf that isn't shown on the map. They were very keen to pinpoint exactly where Santa is but I guess part of the magic of Santa is that, even with google earth, he's kind of hard to track. So we just went nuts and decorated the entire wall above the map. We'll be finding glitter for months!
Gingerbread dough is chilling in the fridge ready to be rolled, cut, baked and decorated tomorrow.
PS I didn't get around to picking a giveaway winner today, we'll draw that tomorrow so don't forget to leave a comment!

December 17th

Friday, December 17, 2010

I got an email from Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studios last night to tell me that I'd won a giveaway. The Alexander Henry june bug set is headed my way!
So it seems only fair to share the love and do a little giveaway of my own. These are the leftover fabrics from Alexander's quilt and would be a very cute addition to your green and blue stash. Just leave a comment and I'll announce the winner tomorrow.
Good luck! In other news, baby Jesus is MIA. I sure hope he turns up before Christmas!

December 16th

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I bought some batik fabric when we were in Malaysia to make some big floor cushions for the kids to lounge on. I'm going to use a nubby linen blend for the back and an invisible zip (I might need some emotional support when I try to do that for the first time) but finding a good quality insert was proving a little difficult. I think that problem might now be solved!

Innergreen got in touch with me a few weeks ago about their products and although I haven't used them yet I thought I'd put the link here so I don't forget about it. They also have quilt batting and I am very excited about that. I'm only use natural fibre batting but bamboo batting often has dark flecks through it and with all the white I use that affects the final look. Eco friendly, sustainable products and supporting a local business that, in turn, supports handmade is really a win-win.

I look forward to posting a review in the new year once I finish the cushions!

Good luck Innergreen, I wish you every success.

December 15th

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It was the last day of school today and also my last chance to get gifts to the US before Christmas. The past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and I didn't think I'd be able to get Alex's quilt done but after a big effort on Sunday and a couple of nights of hand stitching this week here it is - FINISHED!Alex's dad has been known as The Green Frog in the family forever (i.e. since long before Mr Duyvken and I met) so that cubist frog fabric was the first one I chose. I didn't want it to be too froggy so hopefully it's just enough of a touch to make it mean something extra to them.
This was such a simple quilt to make and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I like the warm toned binding against the cooler colours in the quilt, that was a nifty idea I picked up at Pink Chalk Studio and I hope little Alex gets lots of use out of it over in Atlanta, GA.

I'd love to be able to give it to him in person but getting it in the post today along with a parcel to my sister in Boston felt pretty good! The glow of achievement even made queueing at the post office in the pre-Christmas crush with C and JW bearable. And given that they like to discuss how old everyone in the post office is in their loudest voices that's quite a feat!

December 14th

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 13th

Monday, December 13, 2010

That's my dad up there in those groovy pants with my sister (curls) and me (squint).
We've been thinking about him a lot today.
6 years ago he passed away.
I hate brain tumours.

December 12th

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Today really showed me just how much you could get done if you had a dedicated sewing space and could work on projects in the little odds and ends of time that show themselves throughout the days. JW and I set up the sewing machine this morning after My Duyvken and the kids left for the Opera House and steadily worked our way through a few things on my list. We sewed, played, ate, danced to the Passenger cd and after a few hours I was thrilled with what we'd achieved. Alex's quilt just needs to have the binding stitched down by hand, and I made two doll quilts for Christmas gifts. These pillowcase doll quilts are a great idea from Dana Made It, and take no time at all to complete. I love that pillowcase on the left, I wonder how Mr Duyvken would feel about having folk arty flowers all over his bed?

December 11th

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All the Christmas books are off the shelf, stacked under the tree and already on high rotation. I am sure I know them all by heart.
Tomorrow, Mr Duyvken and the older 3 children are going to the Opera House with Mr Duyvken's parents and some of the cousins to attend a Christmas Celebration concert and JW and I have big plans for finishing up Alex's quilt and knocking over a few other sewing projects.

December 10th

Friday, December 10, 2010

C brought this home from pre-school today and I thought it was a genius idea! It's Christmas card and candy cane season at school which can be tough for kids who have allergies and food sensitivities and for mums and dads who try to control how much refined sugar makes its way into the kid's diets at this time of year. This little container filled with reindeer food (i.e. birdseed) delighted C and is tucked safely under the Christmas tree to be spread across the yard on Christmas eve. We've already handed out several kilos worth of sugar with the cards this year but hopefully I'll remember this lovely little idea for Christmas 2011.

December 9th

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I'm 30wks pregnant and have officially started waddling. Bleh! I've still got such a long way to go and I am thoroughly over it. So, rather than think too much about that let's talk about Christmas. G got this for Christmas last year and she made a few ornaments to hang on the tree. It sat with the craft stuff for the rest of the year but since putting the tree up G has been steadily working her way though it producing some gorgeous ornaments for the tree and pictures to decorate the house. The Klutz stuff is expensive but if you have a crafty type at your place it would be worth getting now so that they can really enjoy it before Christmas.

December 8th

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Such a nice surprise to find that my mail matched my purse today. How often does that happen?
It's been a very busy day - hiring extra tables and chairs for Christmas lunch which will be at our house this year, hanging out with mum, going to the school Christmas concert (adorable), baking scones, washing sheets and slowly working my way through my To Do list. Maybe it's just the time of year but my To Do list is like that packet of tim tams that never runs out. I have so much that I want to get done before school finishes for the year so I'm just keeping my head down and slowly working through it all.

December 7th

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

G's room.

I took these photos this morning as a little break between loads of laundry and helping to dress Polly Pockets. Taking photos is much more fun than trying to pull those rubber dresses on over those weird little dolls. Pity my girls love them so much :-)

December 6th

Sunday, December 05, 2010

One of my favourite Duyvken family Christmas traditions is our Advent activity calendar. We made it in 2006 and haven't changed the activities much since. I change things up a little every year just to make sure that the more involved activities fall on the weekends but that's it. I love pulling the card out each day and seeing G's 6 year old handwriting. I remember it was somewhat torturous writing out 24 cards at 6 year old speed and we spent a few afternoons doing it but I am glad we stuck it out because she loved the process and it's a lovely memory for me now.

Do you have a favourite Advent calendar that you pull out every year?
There are some great ideas around:
Claire's baubles are adorable.
Sheridan found a lego calendar which is perfect for kids who can't have chocolate.
This would be very cute in a kitchen.
Or maybe a wall decal for people who prefer something more mod.
But I think some of my favourites are the diy printables like this and this.
Those plain boxes are definitely my fave.

Mr Duyvken is also celebrating Advent by playing the Christmas countdown Angry birds game. He told me very proudly last night that he's got 3 stars for each of the Christmas levels so far.
I'm very proud.
I don't get Angry Birds at all :-)

And just so you know JW is a genuine 2 year old this is what she did while I was writing this post. Thanks goodness for magic erasers.

December 5th

Today has been all about this cute little guy, a hexbug nano. Haven't heard of him before? Neither had I until yesterday but we have been having a ball with him today. J got one for his birthday and it has been a total hit. G even included it on her Christmas wish list. I suspect Santa will be bringing one for each of the little Duyvkens. If you are looking for a gift for a 5-10yr old I can definitely recommend it.

We decorated the Christmas tree today and set up all our ornaments, nativity sets, etc. It's made the house feel very festive and I'm starting to get pretty excited. I do love this time of year!

December 4th

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Turning 6 in the rain? A massive success! A bit stressful for mum but a lot of fun for the birthday boy and all his friends.
We had sandwiches, watermelon, superhero juice and some of oma's famous cupcakes. We created super heros, collected snails, jumped on the trampoline, made christmas cards and danced to some fun and wacky songs. And then, after 2 hours of non-stop madness Mr Duyvken and I sat back and put our feet up. Bliss!
I bought a diy printable party set from etsy (oh how I love etsy) seller Bird Crafts Shop. Bird was great to deal with and the printables worked beautifully. She has a range of very cute non-licenced designs that are very easy to work with. Definitely worth checking out if you are planning a party.
J had a wonderful time and is particularly excited that we'll be celebrating with cake again on the 17th for his actual birthday. Maybe he'll even think it was worth waiting all year for.

December 3rd

Friday, December 03, 2010

We've spent a busy day preparing for J's Super Hero 6th birthday party tomorrow. His birthday is not until the 17th but we all know how long he's been waiting for this so we decided to have it early in December. He's very excited about it!
JW and I spent some time tidying up in the backyard which basically means that I spent 50% of my time raking and 50% of my time pushing JW on the swing. I enjoyed every minute of it! It has been such a wet week that seeing the sunshine come through and dry things up a bit was wonderful.
So, are we ready for 24 children to come over tomorrow? Well, the bunting is made, the party bags are finished and the cake is waiting to be decorated in the morning. As long as the skies remain clear we should be fine. And, just in case the rain returns, I've asked everyone to bring a raincoat and spent a small fortune at the Hot Dollar shop stocking up on rain ponchos. We're as ready as we'll ever be!

December 2nd

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Today we celebrated my mum's birthday with one of her signature dishes, butterfly cakes. These may be the reason that I am often disappointed by the cupcakes that I occasionallybuy at those gourmet cupcake outlets. Those bakeries can try but no-one makes cupcakes like my mum. Even after years of trying using her exact recipe I can't make them taste quite the same. She's just got the knack! I know my sister in Boston misses mum's cupcakes almost more than anything else about Sydney.
So, although I can't share one with you please help yourself, in a virtual/cyber sense, to one from the plate above and imagine sharing it with us on mum's deck this afternoon as we watched the rain clouds roll away and enjoyed the blue skies and sunshine that were left behind.

December 1st

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Today is the first day of the last month of the year. A month that is filled with special events for our family, some of which we've been waiting for all year. We've got J's birthday, advent activities, oma's birthday, Christmas concerts, choir practices, end of the school year, etc, etc... I am sure it is just as crazy at your place as it is here right now. The calendar is already packed and there are still things that need to be added and other things that we can't do because we already have other commitments. Knowing that this busy-ness was just around the corner the kids and I took some time on the weekend to make a thankful tree to hang in the kitchen and remind us to lift our head above the chaos and enjoy moments of gratitude throughout the month ahead.
The kids came up with some great things to write on the leaves - music, outer space, trampoline, bedsocks, cousins and new babies. They had me giggling and getting teary all at the same time.
I hope that wherever you are you find lots of moments of peace and gratitude over the next few weeks too.

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