Embroidering my Historical Pocket

While my foot continues to heal, I’m limited in my crafting abilities to hand projects because it’s difficult to operate a sewing machine pedal in a boot. No worries, my desire to start assembling historical ensembles means that a lot of things I want to make are perfectly suited for hand sewing due to the fact that sewing machines either weren’t invented or not widely used in domestic spheres for the periods I’m interpreting.

I’ve decided to start working on a pair of pockets for my 1850s ensemble. Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme about Lucy Locket losing her pocket?

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon ’round it.

I was always puzzled by it as a child, but it turns out that pockets used to be detachable items of clothing, tied around your waist under your skirts. And yes, sometimes those ties could come undone and your pocket could get lost.

Historical pocket embroidery transfer by Cara Brooke of That Crafty Cara. Pattern is from Godey's Lady's Book, October 1853.

There are many historical examples of pockets in museums, and a lot of them have beautiful embroidery. I love a chance to practice my embroidery skills, so I’m going to embroider my pockets as well.

I’ve chosen an embroidery pattern that was published in the October 1853 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book because my 1850s ensemble that I’m making is for a character that lived in Washington Territory in 1855 and would be a little behind on fashions due to slowness of mail delivery. (Let’s be honest here, though–a middle-aged mother of four in any era of history would probably not worry about pocket embroidery at all because yeesh, feeding and clothing your family was hard back then and I wouldn’t be using my time to make my invisible articles of clothing more pretty. Or, maybe it’d be a nice little thing I’d do for myself, finding snippets of time to embroider by candlelight? I like to think about that while I’m working on this.)

I’ve been slowly working on the embroidery, and this pocket has turned into a pocket embroidery “sampler” as I figure out my embroidery likes and dislikes. It’s a good piece to practice and experiment on, and I’m hopeful that my embroidery skills will be much improved by the end of this project. I started with Pinterest tutorials, but hated how they were looking, so I dug out a book on needlepainting by Trish Burr and started working according to her instructions. I like the needlepainting portions much more than the random Pinterest embroidery technique sections.

It seems that most people wore two pockets, so I’ll eventually have to make another. Extant examples of pocket pairs tend to match, but I don’t think I have enough interest in me to do this pattern again–I’m still trying to pump myself up to mirror the image on this particular pocket and stitch it again. Another two times after that?!?! It’s a no from me. Maybe I’ll do the other pocket in that grape vine pattern sharing the page? Or maybe I’ll get lost in researching more embroidery patterns from the era and choose from those! (Probably that last one…because I really enjoy reading through historical ladies’ magazines.)

The embroidery process thus far:

More embroidery awaits! This might be set aside for a little while, though; one of my kids wants a very specific look for their Halloween costume this year, and I’m going to have to sew some of it up myself.

More info on historical pockets:

“Have the Best Day that’s Available to You”

Most days, I feel like I was sent to this Earth to work myself to death in the pursuit of ideals.  I’ve been the queen of jamming as much stuff as possible into twenty-four hours and then berating myself for not getting more done. I’ve spent days cleaning and cooking and running errands and volunteering and folding laundry and getting a few moments of crafting and reading done, and then spending my falling-asleep time near tears because I’ve just not accomplished as much as I thought I should that day. I only mended three pairs of jeans instead of eight; we ate sandwiches for dinner instead of a pot roast and homemade rolls; I sat and watched my kids’ baseball games instead of walking around and getting in more steps. And then the Big Back Injury™ happened and that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t doing enough got even louder because yeah, hard to get stuff done when you’re loaded up on narcotics and can’t take a step without searing pain coursing through your body.

If you’ve ever needed to do some serious thinking about how your life is going, two years of bedrest and then three years of physical therapy that makes your body cry every day and THEN a pandemic will really give you that time.  #lifehack

Before the Big Back Injury™, I was busy. Busy with homeschooing, busy with doing as many homemaking tasks from scratch as possible, busy with driving four kids around to music lessons, theatre practices, sports practices and games, busy with church music, busy with my own interests and hobbies (if I could find time to squeeze them in). Running from place to place every single moment of the day. And I liked it; I liked being busy and watching my children develop their talents, and I liked feeling like I was a part of my community.

But I still went to bed every night thinking I should have done more than I did.

And then the injury, and…nothing. If you think you haven’t done enough in a day on your good days, that voice inside your head gets really hysterical when you’re bedridden.

So I started quilting because it was interesting enough to make me want to get out bed and deal with the discomfort of sitting upright. At first I could handle ten minutes a day. It was a huge milestone, about eighteen months after I started, when I could go all morning until lunch,. And still, every one of those nights I went to bed thinking I was such a loser because the laundry wasn’t done, I hadn’t cooked a dinner, I hadn’t gardened. I pushed harder and harder to measure up to the ideal in my head, and as a result, I developed overuse injuries non-stop.

Then the pandemic hit and I discovered e-loans from the library and started reading as much as my heart had desired for years. (I never have enough money to buy all the books I want to read! God bless libraries.) I read The Twelve Week Year, and it suggested to write out your ideal week in a planner, and to block out time to work on your goals, etc. So I did, and lo and behold, I could not fit everything I thought I should be doing into the hours I had available to me in a week. And not only could I not fit everything I thought I should be doing, I couldn’t even fit everything I needed to be doing into my week. It was a huge wake-up call.

About that time a friend mentioned the quote “I hope you have the best week that’s available to you” because I was dealing with yet another injury of sorts, and that quote really resonated with me. Normally it’s “Have a good week,” which seems like a command when you think about it, but “Have the best week that’s available to you” is an acknowledgment that life isn’t perfect, can’t be planned for perfectly, and that we each are allowed a measure of grace in regards to our productivity, especially in the face of unforeseen trials and circumstances that impede or directly oppose our aspirations. Which, realistically, happens all the freaking time.

I dutifully plan out my week each Sunday in my trusty Action Day planner, complete with my 12 Week Year Strategy, Buffer, Work, and Breakout sessions, and by the time the next Sunday rolls around, there’s a bunch of little slash marks and little appointments and explanations penciled into the margins as to why this and that didn’t happen and why that had to be cancelled. I don’t know the last time I had a day go as I planned it to go, because COVID guidelines change things; because I have four kids who, shocker, do the things that kids do; and because I have a physical body that, spoiler alert, isn’t fifteen years old anymore and has suffered a lot of physical trauma. But now, after a year of re-programming my internal thinking, I don’t look at all those interruptions and changes and get (as) annoyed with them.

I’m learning to accept them. Interruptions and changes are just a part of normal life. They are constant, despite your best efforts to guard against them, and freaking out and getting angry about them accomplishes nothing except you being upset. I’ve learned that it’s better, when faced with an unforeseen situation that derails your plans, to say, “That sucks! I wish that hadn’t happened that way. OK then, what am I going to do now that that’s happened?” It works much better than sulking and ragin against the interference. In short, it’s better to acknowledge the unfortunate aspects of the situation, and then keep trying to have the best day that’s available to you.

The best day that’s available to you may not even be a good day. It may be such a terrible day that you wish it had never occurred, but you can still decide to let it be the best day available to you under the circumstances. There’s a huge power in the realization about how much you’re still in control of things even when things are completely out of your control. You can cry and hide from the world on the worst of the worst day and know that that was the best day to be had because that particular day was so rotten and overwhelming that the healthiest thing to do was to take a break and cry.

Other times you know you don’t have that option and so you do what you can as gracefully as you can given your resources, and then you make the decision to not beat yourself up over how the end result wasn’t perfect.

Some days you wake up in pain and you have to cancel. You do the necessary relaxation work that day and then make a phone call to your doctor to re-start physical therapy so you can get stronger and minimize the pain in the future.

Sometimes it goes exactly as planned.  CELEBRATE THAT.  SO MUCH.

Sometimes it goes nearly as planned, but only because you gutted it out and sacrificed and got stuck with jobs you didn’t originally sign on for, and you realize that it’s simply not worth the stress.  So you make plans to resign from those commitments because they’re only making you miserable.

All of these experiences are valid.  All of these experiences help us learn important life coping lessons.  And you are the final say as to how you’re going to deal with them and later frame them in the context of a good or bad day.

We were never created to be perfect.  We were created to experience life, which is a mix of good and bad.  No one is guaranteed an easy existence, but we are given the choice to decide how we’re going to handle our existence, and how we handle our situations is as individual as each of us because we all have so many different backgrounds that we bring into those situations.  Listen to your gut, get help with the stuff that’s too overwhelming or maladaptive, and celebrate your victories out loud.  Make plans to do better at the things that matter to you and make plans to let go of the things that make you feel terrible and unloved.  Be patient with the process of change because it can be exceedingly slow, and accept that there will be setbacks, but remember that setbacks aren’t permanent failures, just temporary hiccups.  Keep making the decision to have the best day that’s available to you and soon enough, you’ll be living the best life that’s available to you, warts and all.  Which actually is what we were sent to this Earth to do.

What’s the best life that’s available to you look like?  Only you can tell us.

May is the Best Month

Good morning lovelies, and a very merry new week and month! I think spring is the absolute best season there is; the awakening of the world after the cold, dark days of winter just stirs so much joy and optimism in my heart, and I believe that May is the glorious climax of the season. The fruit trees are heavy with blossoms, buds are peeking on the trees, flowers are planted and seeds are started…the fireworks of flowers in our lives for this year are now waiting in the side wings for their moments to shine. It’s just such a beautiful time of year, both visually and in regards to anticipation.

I spent loads of time in the garden this past weekend and the kids and I got almost all of the back garden planted. I’m opting to do a flower garden this year, rather than trying to grow food. I’ve decided that I hate growing food. I only do it because of the pressure the Church puts on gardening and food storage, and it turns out that I hate it. All the anxiety about whether or not the food will actually grow, the heartbreak when an animal or insect eats it, the stress of trying to eat it all when it comes into season, and then the backbreaking work of harvesting it and preserving it when it’s obvious that you can’t. HATE. IT.

But flowers? Just make me happy every time I look out the window. There’s no stress in growing flowers aside from the usual weeding and watering, which are quite meditative acts, and I’m rewarded with a beautiful scene that smells good and makes me want to sit in the sunshine. After last year’s wake-up call about the importance of self-care and doing more of what makes you happy to be alive, I’m actively trying to enjoy more of the things that Michael and I have worked so hard to achieve and possess. I’m now scheduling “Enjoy the garden” time in my planner, and “Have fun with the kids” on various afternoons. No ulterior motives, just enjoying life. That’s the whole point of all this rat race work, isn’t it? And it turns out that I harvest a lot of enjoyment from a flower garden, so flower-gazing and lemonade-drinking are my new jam.

A big development in our household is that we have baby bunnies in our backyard, too. The mom, whom my children named Clover, has been hanging out in our yard for years. Last year she was keeping her babies in the divots in the grass on one side of our house, and we killed them all with the lawn mower because we didn’t see them before mowing. Super sad day. BUT this year she made a burrow under our blueberry plant, which is nestled in a protective raised planter, and now there’s at least three, if not four or five, healthy baby bunnies that scamper throughout the yard if you sit still long enough and they are adorable. I named the first one we saw “Sprout,” Renaissance named the second one we saw “Fennel,” and Nathaniel named the third one “Becky,” which seems like a random name, but he was trying to stay on theme with plant names and I was planting a Becky Shasta Daisy at the time, so Becky was a totally respectable plant name. If we do happen to see a fourth bunny, Rachel wants to name it “Cinnamon.” Michael had to mow the grass over the weekend and scared the buhjeezits out of them all and they scattered to other yards, but those yards all have dogs, so I think they’ll be back soon. I think I even might start leaving out some food, because why not? They’re adorable and I don’t begrudge them a few plants that they eat from time to time because they make my heart smile to see them. (Plus my sister-in-law keeps chanting to give them “whatever they want” to me via text and Facebook comments. Can’t disappoint her, now, can I?)

While I was gardening this weekend, one of my neighbors introduced themselves over the fence and let me know that they’re putting in beehives in their yard! So jealous! I think it’d be great fun to raise bees. She said she’d teach me, and that’s it’s not particularly difficult. So perhaps in a year or two I’ll explore that idea. She was so nice, too; she explained that bees really like chlorine, and seeing that we have the pool in our backyard, she’s taken out “bee insurance” in case any of my kids get stung. I didn’t even know that bee insurance was a thing, and I truly appreciate the gesture. I’ve seen lots of bee activity in my garden already, and the buzzing of the hives is such a soothing sound. Oh my gosh, I love being in my backyard right now. Spring is so lovely.

What are you all up to at your homes? Getting back to regular life activities? Not? Emms played an abbreviated tennis season and it’s wrapping up. Nathaniel is just getting into baseball season, and I keep chuckling over how much my life used to be run by softball/baseball season in years past. The leagues work differently here and would have had us driving all over the place and needing to be in three places at once in rush hour traffic, so we opted out of softball when we first got here, which made me so sad for my girls. Softball is a thing of the past for our family, but we sure had fun while it was in full swing, didn’t we?

On the fabric side of things, I have sewn up the muslin and am now officially starting to cut out the pieces of my Lavender Birthday Dress! I don’t know if I can get this done by my actual birthday, but it will be a very beautiful piece of clothing and welcome addition to my spring wardrobe even it can’t be worn on my birthday day. I’ve been trying to make room in this week’s schedule to afford me some more sewing time, I hope it works.

Keep in mind that that’s the WRONG SIDE of the fabric–it’s a much more vivid print! So excited!

And I hope this post finds you well at the beginning of this new week. I hope you’ve got interesting things to look forward to, and that the week passes without any negativity or strife. Happy May, everyone, and may this beautiful season cheer your heart.

2020 Word of the Year

Good morning!  Happy New Year, and a very merry “kids went back to school today” day to you as well.  Hee hee!

Are you all sick of Word of the Year posts yet?  New Year’s resolutions?  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year because it does seem to get rather monotonous with the theme of goal-setting, but you know what?  I just realized how cool it is that almost all of us write these posts–we are similar in that we are all striving to be better.  And if that doesn’t give you hope for humanity, I don’t know what will.  We all at least think about becoming better versions of ourselves at the beginning of a new year.  I love that.  Carry on, fellow humans, with all your dreaming and optimism.

My word for 2020 is BLOOM.

At first I thought I’d go with “blossom” or “shine,” but “blossom” only talks about the flower, and “shine” can very quickly morph into arrogance or presumptuousness.  “Bloom”, though–it encompasses blossoming and also brings to mind the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” which makes me think of the roots spreading through the soil and the stalk of the plant growing taller and straighter and sturdier; it’s a word that means multi-dimensional growth, rather than just focusing on the growth of one aspect of the whole.

So, BLOOM it is.

I’m encouraging myself to branch out in my social activities.  I’ll be showing up to local crafty guild meetings in my area and trying to find one or two that fit my preferences.  Friends AND crafty inspiration, yes please!  Joining my local guilds has been on my to-do list since the move the Washington, but getting the kids settled was my main objective when we first got here, and then 2019 had some sticky issues to work through, so I’m only just now getting to it, and that’s fine.  It’s going to be fun!

As far as growing taller and straighter and sturdier, I’m taking the time to re-establish healthier habits, both physically and emotionally, and consciously trying to push myself to learn more and try new techniques in my crafts.

And blossoming/shining…well, it’s hard to get flowers if you don’t plant some seeds.  I’m in the seed-planting phase right now, but I’ve already had a seed blossom in a short time–I applied to a brand ambassador for Blank Quilting Corporation, and they offered me a spot on their Social Sewing Team!  How cool is that?!  They’ll send me cuts of a soon-to-be-released fabric collection every other month, and I’ll make something and post it.

So there you go…you can’t harvest where you don’t plant a seed.  Lesson learned.  I’m eager to see what other sorts of opportunities start to grow from seeds I’m going to give myself permission to plant this year, and I’m optimistic that 2020 will be a year of great harvest.

I decided that I also needed two support words: Balance and Celebrate–the first to keep me from throwing all my eggs into the crafty basket at the expense of time with my family, and the second because I realized that I have no idea how to actually celebrate a good thing when it happens beyond saying, “Oh.  Yay.  That happened.”  Which feels incomplete and like I’m denying myself the full range of joy when it comes to personal achievements.  So, yay, another area in which to grow.

Isn’t it great that we can refocus and refine these lives of ours?  What a gift!

Do you have a word for the year?  Multiple words?  Or is it not your thing?

My New Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

I made no resolutions this year because I knew that, by mid-February or so, I’d be looking for justifications to abandon them.  Instead, I decided to stew on the things I would normally make resolutions about, and hope that feasible solutions would present themselves to me.  Lo and behold, whilst scrutinizing my bulging scrap bins and the big ol’ bin o’ UFOs a few days ago, a plan magically unfolded in my mind:

20170211_164545

How freakishly simple is that?!  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I always start out my year with the resolution to finish as many UFOs as possible, but then new patterns, yarns, and fabrics start popping onto my radar, and it’s just such a teeth-clenching battle to not chase after the new bright and shinies.  And that sums up my entire creative year.

Now, instead of white-knuckling it as much as possible, I’ll plan for finishing up a few UFOs each year, a few “new-to-me” projects, and a few scrap bin-based projects.  No guilt required.

AND…if it’s time for me to work on a UFO, and I pull out a UFO and decide to just donate it instead, IT COUNTS.  The goal is to whittle down the UFO pile and close those open loops, and that happens even if I donate a half-finished project to Goodwill.

I am super excited to give the plan a try!

What are your methods for finishing UFOs and managing scraps?

 

Winner of Art Gallery Fabrics Fat Quarter Bundle

Thank you all so much for your kind words and well wishes, each little comment cheered me greatly.

Without further delay, I’m excited to announce that our winner is Shannon W. who said that she’d love the Arizona Triangle Token Metallic in her bundle.

Thank you again for all your comments, and I hope you all were able to download the free Welded quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop without problem.  I can’t wait to get the green light to go ahead with it once my foot heals up–looking forward to sharing that finish with you in the future!

Congratulations, Shannon W., I’ll be in touch with you so we can get your bundle out the door quickly!

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: FREE Welded Quilt Pattern and GIVEAWAY

agf-stitched-LOGOI was asked to participate in the latest Art Gallery Fabric & Fat Quarter Shop Stitch Along with Kimberly blog hop!

Check out this video explaining the FREE Welded quilt pattern:

The Fat Quarter Shop has also made up some kits for us to purchase, featuring that lovely Artisan fabric line by Pat Bravo:
Welded Quilt Kit
Backing Set for Welded Quilt

As part of participating in this blog event, I got to see the pattern before it was distributed, and I got to choose any Art Gallery fabrics that I wanted to use to make up the pattern…how cool is that?!?!  I waited eagerly for the precious fabric to arrive, did a little dance at my mailbox when it showed up, and dashed home to pre-wash it like all good little crafters do…

Stack of Art Gallery fabrics

And then I broke my foot.

Because I’m Cara, and that is what I do.

And, because I’m Cara, I really did experiment with the idea of pushing through a broken foot and sewing my quilt anyway…which lasted about the amount of time it took to move my fabric from my cutting table to my ironing board and I tripped about seventeen times.  As much as I love quilting, “death by tripping over iron cord” is really not the way I want to bow out of this world.

A sad email was then written to the Fat Quarter Shop.  *sniffle*

A very kind response was received.  *smile*  The folks at the Fat Quarter Shop are so very nice.

I am really bummed that I couldn’t make up a quilt to show you, because the Welded pattern is super cute, and I was really looking forward to its assembly.

But, even though I don’t have a quilt to show, I DO have a lovely, lovely giveaway to offer: a fat quarter bundle of your favorite Art Gallery fabrics!

Win a fat quarter bundle of your favorite Art Gallery fabrics over at That Crafty Cara!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me at least ONE (1) Art Gallery fabric that you would choose to have in your fat quarter bundle if you won!  Also make sure to include a way for me to contact you if you win.  (Not sure which Art Gallery fabric you’d like? Visit the Art Gallery Fabric website or Fat Quarter Shop’s Art Gallery section, drool a little bit, and then come back here to leave a comment.)

Giveaway is open to US and International commenters, and will close on Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm MDT.  I’ll post the winner here and on Instagram (@thatcraftycara) the next day.

A huge thank you to Art Gallery Fabrics and the Fat Quarter Shop for inviting me to be a part of this Welded quilt pattern release; it has been a lot of fun even without being able to fully participate!  I’m really looking forward to sewing up my own quilt once my foot has healed!

And be sure to stop by some of the other blogs featured on the Welded blog tour:

John of Quilt Dad
Kitty of Night Quilter
Dana of Old Red Barn and Co.
Michele-Renee of Quilt Matters
Corey of Little Miss Shabby
Christina of Sometimes Crafter
Sinta of Pink Pin Cushion
Jess of The Elven Garden
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Svetlana of Sotak Handmade
Jemima of Tied with a Ribbon
Katarina Roccella
Caroline of Sew Caroline
Riane of Vessel Quilts
Megan of Quilt Story
Kaye of Miss Print
Natalia of Piece N Quilt

I can’t wait to see what everyone has made!

Click here to access your copy of the FREE Welded quilt pattern.

Pardon the Dust

It’s going to get pretty crazy around here for the next couple of weeks as I tinker with the ol’ blog.  I’m consolidating multiple blogs, so there’s lots of deleting and re-publishing and “What?!” going on…in short, lots of fun times…or not.

I’ll get it all sorted out, but please be patient while I’m remodeling.  I’m planning to start posting regularly next week, despite what the surrounding page elements decide to do…see you then!

2014

I’ve spent a few minutes scrolling through my blog posts from the past year, and it honestly does not feel like those things happened.  I mean, two and a half weeks ago I flew home from Australia.  We lived in Australia for five months, but now we’re back in our home and it feels like it was a movie I watched…there’s no way something like that actually took place.  I never thought I’d live somewhere like that, and now I can say that I have.  It’s surreal.

2014 was…busy, challenging, and overwhelming.  After 2013’s back injury, I threw myself into 2014 with passion, only to feel like I couldn’t quite get ahead, ever.  Michael traveled a lot, and it was very difficult to homeschool, keep the house in order, or move ahead on anything while he was away.

I let the girls sign up for sports, which took up a lot of time.  It’s insane to shuttle the kids around for that stuff, but at year’s end I’m so glad we did it.  Penguin loved soccer and gymnastics and is eagerly awaiting getting back into both, and Bluebird went out for fastpitch, which I was really nervous about, given that she’s wary of new things and hadn’t shown any inclination towards the sport ever before, but she blossomed over the course of the season.  I was so proud of her.  I hope she plays again this year.

I helped throw a baby shower for my dear friend, Rachel, and it was a smashing success.  That was one of my favorite things of this past year.  I love to throw a party, I loved the reason we were celebrating, and it was just so much fun to do something so elegant.  I love my kids’ birthday parties, but grown-up stuff is just so much more appealing to a grown-up, you know?  That was a lot of fun.  I felt like I was able to expand into a lot of my potential with that event.  I always want to do nice things, but I’m limited most of the time, so it was nice to do an “all-out” thing that turned out so well.

I also made a work of art in 2014, the Storybook Hexagon Quilt.  I’m still fairly new to the quilting scene, so it was scary to give myself over to my heart’s desire to create something I was sure would be incredibly beyond my fledgling abilities, but that quilt turned out spectacularly.  I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog, but I made the quilt for Rachel’s baby girl, who arrived in June.

When I found out that Rachel was pregnant, I was overjoyed for her, but also knew I needed to respect her personal space and not be all like, “LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BAY-BEEEEEE!” all the time.  I was going to channel my enthusiasm into a simple little quilt that would allow me to flex my FMQ skills, but I happened to see those ridiculously cute fairy tale prints, and they just seemed so perfect for a child of Rachel’s because Rachel likes Japanese things and she practically has a Master’s in Literature…and that’s when the vision happened.

It was such a huge undertaking for me, but I had to do it.  HAD TO.  Any time I felt like making up an excuse to knock on her door and harass her, I’d spend some time with the Storybook Hexagon Quilt first.  (I think my actions helped preserve our friendship, because, oh boy, did I want to stalk her and her growing belly.  I was just so stinkin’ happy for her!)

Rachel was absolutely shocked when I gave her the quilt because I had led her to believe I was making it for one of my own girls.  While I was in Australia, she wrote me letters and included pictures of her growing baby girl, always laying atop the quilt.  Such a feel good project, even many months afterwards.

The girls and I were cast in our stake’s musical, which was very exciting.  But then we learned that we would be moving to Australia, and that our departure date was smack-dab in the middle of the musical’s run, so we had to resign.  (It later turned out that we left an entire month later than our original plans, but I’m so glad we weren’t in the musical during that time with all the preparations we had to make!)

And then it was all about Australia.  Oh, the packing.  The securing of services to keep our home functioning and our pets alive during our absence.  The stress of visas, passports, and plane tickets.  We did manage some time at Disneyland, which was a great day.

And then we did it–we moved to Australia.


And it was harder than I ever believed it could possibly be.  I mean, it’s a first-world country and they spoke English, how hard could it be?  It was beautiful, there were lots of neat things to see and experience, we had great neighbors and a great ward…but it was hard.  Things were just different, all the time, and I had to constantly remain conscious of everything so that I could remember all the different things and not make mistakes.  It was exhausting, despite the general awesomeness of the things we were able to see.

Which led to the decision to put the girls into school while we were there.  I was just maxed-out with everything, and had to make some cuts.  It was a great decision, and we enjoyed our time with their adorable little school.  I wish I could find a school like that here where we live in the States.

And then it’s all a blur.  The girls caught the bus at 6:45am and got home at 4:30pm.  I worked hard to keep our rental from getting dingy, ran errands with Monkeyboy, spent a ridiculous amount of time line-drying clothing, and did a lot of cooking because Australian take-out did not agree with us.

I managed to make some fair progress on two big projects, the Peacock Feathers Stole and the Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt, and knit up a pair of socks as well.

We had the missionaries over for Thanksgiving, and it did my heart good.  My goodness, it was a lot of work to make that meal, what with continually converting my American recipes into metric and Celsius, and trying to figure out substitutes for ingredients I could not find in Australia.  In the end, I figured it out, and we had a lovely meal with four very happy guys.  It was a great experience.

We visited the Australia Zoo.

We were able to observe a wild sea turtle lay her eggs.

And then it was time to go home.

Since we’ve been back, it’s been a whirlwind of cleaning, unpacking, Christmas, and throwing a New Year’s Day brunch.

A whole year in 1,136 words.  It seems like it should take more words than that, especially with the events that happened.

Regardless of what has happened over the course of a year, I think the most important question to ask myself at the end of it is, “Am I a better person now than I was at the beginning of the year?”  Because, really, that’s all that matters in the end.  Did I progress?  Did I do anything to make this world better?

Yes.

I’m happier now.  Not because I can say that I lived in a foreign country, or because I’ve fed a kangaroo, or because I went to Disneyland.  I’m happier now because living in Australia opened my eyes to how unnecessarily busy I was with things that didn’t even make me happy, and it also made me see how much my homemaking matters in regards to my family’s happiness.  I’ve gone through experiences that will help me be kinder to others in difficult situations.  I’ve experienced what it feels like to really let myself go and do the best job I can do with something, and how great that feels afterwards, despite how much extra work it might have required.  I experienced the fun of working with a group and the end result actually turning out nicely.  I re-learned how much I love my home.  I re-learned how good my life is on a regular, ordinary day.

Big things happened in 2014.  2014 was busy.  2014 asked a lot of me–I had to sacrifice some things, and I had to learn to trust in my abilities a little more than I have for a very long time.  But each of those experiences ended positively, which makes me think that I’ve been hiding and protecting myself a little too much.  I’m looking forward to putting these realizations into play a little more in 2015.

Thank you for your kind words, whether you chose to send them through comments or emails.  I love hearing from each and every one of you, and it means a lot to me when you take time out of your busy lives to write a few words to me, whether you know me in real life or whether we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face.  I wish you and your families a beautiful new year in 2015, and look forward to sharing more of my family and my experiences as the year unfolds.  Blessings to you all.

the big, long plane ride

Hello there. You’ll have to excuse my punctuation and other errors, because this post coming to you strictly from the voice recognition software of my phone. The pictures my Instagram account, and it looks this may be the only way that I can update the blog while we are Australia.it turns out that the internet connection we have here isn’t very good, in fact, it’s rather ancient.I’m not sure there’s much we will be able to do about it, so I’ll try my best to post updates, but…yeah.

so, yes, we are here! We left Utah on July 26 and flew to Los Angeles. We stayed a few days in Los Angeles, as witnessed by my blog post there, and on July 29th we flew out of Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. That flight was aboard an enormous plane, eating something like 800 people, and the flight lasted 14 hours. Almost all the flights had television screens built into the backs of the seats, so the kids had no trouble at all with the long flights.

our flight to Sydney left Los Angeles at 10 p.m. And they served dinner at midnight, which three of the kids were still awake for, and then they turn down the cabin lights and everyone on board went to sleep. I got 6 hours of horrible sleep, and everyone else seemed to do fairly well with their sleep. I woke up while we were flying over Christmas Island, but because it was the middle of the night, I didn’t see anything. I slept a bit while we flew over summer and Fiji, and then most of all of us were up and just watching movies on our little screens. The flying was easy. Like, the easiest part of it all.

while I had been excited about all the knitting I was going to accomplish on our big, long plane flight, I ended up knitting and sewing nothing at all. I was simply too exhausted. I guess with the swimming, the full day at Disneyland, I’m a general all-around poor sleep, I just didn’t have anything left over to concentrate. It felt like work to pay attention enough to understand a movie.

once we landed in Sydney, it was a mad rush to get to our connecting flight to Brisbane. We had two hours to make the switch, which included picking up our ten suitcases, taking it all through customs, checking the 10 suitcases into domestic flights, and then taking a bus to our departure gate on the other side of the airport. You know, while towing four crazy children. We made it to the gate about a minute before they started boarding the plane.

we then flew from Sydney to Brisbane, and then later took another flight from Brisbane to Bundaberg. the Bundaberg Airport is tiny. It’s just one conveyor belt for all the luggage, housed in the same room as the ticket counters. Michaels company’s office is at the airport, so our car was ready for us and a couple of people from his work walked across the street to greet us when we arrived. After the enormity of everywhere else we had been, it was so odd to be in such a small place. We loaded up our baggage, some in our people mover, which is what Australians call minivans, and the majority of it on a workmates flatbed pickup truck, and then we set off for our temporary home, driving on the left side of the road, which makes me think we’re going to die at any given moment.

and so we’re here. We will live at our current house for one more week, and then we will move into the house we will be staying in until our departure in December. The ocean is one block away, and we tried to walk down there at least once a day to enjoy the waves and the sand. The kids are loving it all! It is quite beautiful, the birds make very different cause here, the wind blows through the palm fronds, and the sunshine is warm and delightful.we’ve had only a few days here but already I love it quite a bit. Hopefully I can figure out a better way to update the blog, as this way has taken me far longer than I would like to admit. Until then, I am updating and posting to my Instagram account usually a couple times a day. Unless I can find another way to make this work better, that may be the route I choose to go with Laur while we are here. I hope your summers stateside are going well, and hopefully I can resolve this ancient internet issue quickly.