That waffle blanket …

Each crochet blanket I make has it’s own story. Each blanket is made with so much love. I get a lot of enjoyment from creating a masterpiece that hopefully will bring joy to someone else.

The waffle blanket came about as I was just getting back into crocheting. It had been a while since I last crocheted (reminds me of confession) and I had decided to have a look on You Tube to see if there was anything new on there that I could try out. The waffle stitch looked so much like a real waffle that I really needed to try it out. My love of food obviously influencing my creative flow.

Lisa and I both tried the waffle stitch. It was pretty tricky to get the hang of. I started many times, pulled apart many times, tried all over again until I finally felt I had mastered the waffle stitch and then decided to make a blanket. For some reason I didn’t make squares. Instead I ended up with rectangles. But they didn’t look too bad so I went with it. I didn’t work too fast on this blanket because at the very beginning I wasn’t sure who I was making this blanket for. I just enjoyed the feel of the waffle stitch so I kept making the rectangles.

Lisa (my sister) was making her own waffle rectangles for her own blanket, Natalya (her daughter, my niece) was also helping. Lisa would look over mine and ooh and aah and it became obvious that the waffle blanket should be hers. Only I didn’t want to tell her, I wanted it to be a surprise. I love surprising people.

The waffle blanket really became a labour of love. I would take my crochet basket everywhere with me. I could crochet anywhere. I didn’t care if people stared. I didn’t care if the kids were embarrassed. If I was going somewhere, my crocheting was coming too! Soon people came to expect I would just turn up with my crochet basket in hand.

Whilst making this blanket I overcame some hard times, some real struggles.

I first started making waffle rectangles in May 2016. Shahni left for Brazil in August that same year. Zeb had just been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue. I had left my job at Idea Services (full time, permanent) to start a fixed term, part time position at Cobham School. Zeb needed me at home. I spent many hours sitting at the doctors with Zeb or at A&E, depending what was happening. There were visits to the paediatrician, CAMHS, the dietician, radiology … seemingly endless amount of visits. And all through this to keep me focussed, keep me calm, keep me from crying, keep everyone from seeing how scared I was … I crocheted … I “waffled” on. It truly was my sanity.

I crocheted at everyone’s house. Lisa, Glenda, Mum, Donna & Mathieu, Lizzie, Caro, Sandy & Dennis … they all knew to expect me to arrive basket in hand. I took my crochet to coffee, dinner, lunch … I drew the line at Speedway though. There was no way I was getting all that dust in my crocheting. I even gave lessons … Mia, Donna, India, Louise, Eilish … the more the merrier.  The waffle blanket was very popular. What I loved the most was that everyone knew the waffle blanket was for Lisa, except Lisa.

The waffle blanket took over at home too. The bedroom, the lounge, the couches especially … no where was crochet-free. Okay maybe the garage but like the speedway, there was no way I was letting my wool be around dirty, dusty, oily stuff … no way!

Every night I would spend some time crocheting. It helped me to relax, wind down, remove myself from reality a little. A saviour when we had so much upheaval and uncertainty around us.

And then something else happened. Carla was killed. I can’t write about how that day unfolded. Not in this blog. I will eventually though. I came unraveled. Just how I would unravel a crochet square because I had made a mistake or it wasn’t quite right, my mind unraveled just like that. Nothing made sense anymore. I was so sad. My mind just wouldn’t “unsee”. I needed to heal and what got me through was my crocheting.  In every aspect it was therapeutic, it got me through.  I had to see people, talk to people and each time I took my crocheting.  Sometimes I think I used the crocheting as a barrier between me and the real world but at the end of the day it started conversation, kept my mind busy, let me think, was a creative outlet and mostly it let me produce something that had so much love poured into it for someone else.

This waffle blanket was made with so much love.  It was only right that I give it to the one person in my life that deserves all that love.  I can only hope it brings her as much joy as it brought me.  I love you Lis!

My mistake … my ideal …

Shahni was 2 years old when her dad and I separated.  So her childhood memories are of going between houses, different rules at each house, the introduction of a step-mother or step-father, step-siblings … it was confusing, upsetting, scary and traumatic. And yet, I always tell people that my children had a good, sound, stable up-bringing. Who am I kidding?

Shahni is one of nine children … in the bigger scheme of things.  She has an older half-brother, whom I’ve always tried to encourage her to have contact with.  Now she is almost 20 I don’t have to do that. She does it on her own. Their bond is strong and I love that. That was what I always wanted for her.  She also has two older step-siblings as her dad married after our separation.  Then there are her younger siblings – two half-brothers and a half-sister – that I gifted her.  It really is a tangled little of web of family.  (Just in here, I say half-siblings, but I NEVER and Shahni has NEVER referred to them as half.   They are all brothers and sisters – whanau, whanau).  And then … but wait there is more …  there are two older step-sisters that have been added to our family tree (forest) from my current partner.

Yes, a sound, stable up-bringing I tell you!

Then there is Noah, India and Zeb. They all have the same dad, but different to Shahni.  Their dad has remarried, introducing two step-brothers.  Again, memories of a childhood packing bags, going in between houses, getting used to different sets of rules, a custody battle – not quite the memories you want your children to hang onto.

And of course, there is my partner with his 2 daughters.  Oh the tangled web we weave.

It is timely to now say that my Mum had 3 children. Neil, Lisa and myself.  We all have different fathers.  My brother was the only child from our Mum and his dad.  My sister was also the only child from our Mum and her dad, but has 3 step-siblings.  (In a little twist there are half-siblings but that is a whole new story, new can of worms, yet another tangled, woven web).  And then there is me, 5 half-siblings, all older than me on my Dad’s side. One half-sister, just a month older than me.  So, all the cliches come to me here … “history repeats” … “apple never falls far from the tree” … and so on and so forth.

I only ever wanted to give my children a “sound, stable up-bringing”.  In my mind, I was going to marry, have children, buy a house, get a dog and have the family wagon … white picket fence and all the trimmings.  That was my ideal.  That was what I thought a “sound, stable, up-bringing” should be.  My ideal was shattered with domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, extra-marital affairs, pornography and sex addictions, depression, suicide, divorce.  Things I never thought of when creating my ideal in my head.  It turns out my ideal was not at all reality.  It was all “pie in the sky” stuff.  It’s what goes on behind that white picket fence that all too often those on the outside don’t get to see.  The stuff that gets swept under the carpet and never spoken about.

So, like my own Mum, wahine toa, I went out on my own and did my damndest to give my beautiful children the upbringing they deserved.  To feel safe, secure, loved, surrounded by people that love, respect and cherish them.  Because let’s face it, they may not have grown up with both of their parents in the same household but they grew up knowing they were loved by many … it takes a village to raise a child.  This tangled web I wove was not always the best choice, it wasn’t my ideal and sometimes I find myself thinking it was my mistake … all in all  … their childhood was what it was.  We have 1000’s of great memories.  These children are fabulous, somewhat quirky and clued up.  I can only hope they go out into the big wide world and do great things.

 

 

 

A Crochet Excursion …

Every blanket I crochet has a story, a reason, a purpose. For me, the very idea of a world without crochet is like a fish without water … it isn’t worth thinking about.  Crocheting has become a definite part of who I am. I am now known in some circles for my crocheting. Weird! Who would have seen that coming? The results are always different. To date, I’ve made 6  blankets. Currently, I have 3 on the go. Each time it hasn’t always been about the final result but more about the journey (although the results always leave me feeling quite satisfied).  Crocheting is not a dying art. It is very much in our midst.

The first blanket I ever crocheted was for Sean when he was born. It was in rainbow colours and I was pretty chuffed with the outcome. Years later when our gorgeous Hayden (Sean’s cousin) was born, he got to use that very same blanket. That filled my heart with so much joy.

The second blanket I made was for the gorgeous Micah. I had actually started it when Nicolette was pregnant with Micah. It was supposed to be her baby blanket. However, like so many projects, they take time and life takes over and that is exactly what happened with Micah’s blanket. However, when she turned 2, I was finally able to give it to her for her birthday. Better late than never I say. And it’s purple … my favourite colour.

The third blanket was really just a personal project. I wanted to see if I remembered what to do. Turns out I did. I loved matching colours. I loved the brightness. I was having a whole heap of fun being creative. Then we needed to fundraise for Shahni to go to Brazil. And the wonderful Donna suggested that we fundraise the blanket. It took a while to decide to raffle the blanket. I kept thinking about all the time, love, energy and then decided … yes some one needs this blanket in their lives! Well, then there was a Facebook page and there was a raffle and a police draw and the blanket was won by the lovely Lizzie. It was a mammoth task, but I got there with a whole lot of patience, perseverance and loads of love from my many supporters.

Blanket number 4 was out of the blue really. Donna was busy knitting a blanket for her grandson and I suggested maybe I help, maybe we crochet it and then it was a crocheted blanket and it turned out fabulously. It was huge and would have probably squashed Lockie at the time as he was so little but very cool all the same.

 

Number 5 crocheted blanket was for India. I had agreed to make all the kids one. They just needed to let me know the colours and I would crochet them. India chose her colours and set out a little plan for me to follow. It turned out huge. At least the same size as a queen sized bed. The colours looked so good together.

Then there was the waffle blanket. Blanket 6. I had taught myself how to crochet a waffle stitch using You Tube. At first I didn’t think I could do it but after a few attempts, unraveling and redoing I got the gist. And it truly looked like a waffle. Lisa really enjoyed the waffle stitch and I remember thinking that I would give her the blanket if I ever managed to finish it. It was a long waffle journey (another blog for another day) but I got there. Blanket number 5, done and dusted!

I still have 3 blankets on the go. Poor Zeb has been waiting for his blue blanket for a very long time now … and it’s coming along … just not fast enough. It probably doesn’t help that I started a blanket for me using a new stitch that I learned from You Tube and then I started a blanket for Donna … however, they will all get done!

    

Crocheting has really been my sanity. It gives me the opportunity to be creative. I’m forever learning something new. It is a great conversation starter and it adds so much colour to my life. It gives me an opportunity to relax and it’s all about me and no one else.  I would love to be able to teach the kids to crochet. Even just one of them. They’ve all watched, tried but not persevered. There is no quick fix in crocheting.

Existentual … actually it’s existential.

I am really struggling to say this word correctly. I had to say it out loud about 9 times while I was in the shower and still I don’t think I’ve mastered it. Let alone not even really knowing how to spell it or what it means. So one of today’s little missions … learn how to spell it, say it and know what it means.

Quick Google search proved I had originally spelt it wrong. With that cleared up, what does it mean?

“existential – relating to existence.
PHILOSOPHY
concerned with existentialism.
LOGIC
(of a proposition) affirming or implying the existence of a thing”.

“existential. The definition of existential is something related to existence. A philosophy designed to understand and consider existence and the meaning of existence is an example of something that would be described as existential”.

What is the meaning of existence? How am I going to use the word existential in a meaningful sentence today?

I think I am having an existential crisis.

Planned or Surprised … definitely made with love!

If there is one thing that I am with my children, it is honest. I don’t have many (if any) secrets. As my Mum would always say, “my life is an open book”.

Dinner discussions are certainly interesting in our household. There is the normal “what did you do today?” “what did you enjoy?”. There is also the topics of interest ranging from drugs, alcohol, sex, menstruation, pregnancy … you name it, we discuss it. Yes, masturbation has been mentioned at the dinner table. Yes, the children have discussed virginity, the loss of, where, with whom. There is a no holds barred rule. If you think about it, we can discuss it. I prefer it this way. How else will I get to know my children? Really get to know them. Not just surface stuff. I want them to be open, honest and truthful. Dinner is the best place for it. It is the one time that we are all at home together, device-free, safe and at ease.

So it is only normal that discussions lead to how all my pregnancies came about. The kids like to tease each other about who was planned and who wasn’t. Who was born a bastard and who wasn’t (ie, in or out of wedlock). Again I’ve been very upfront about who, when, where and not so much of the how. Let’s be real, who needs those details. No kid wants those details about their Mum and Dad. I know they like to wind each other up, the banter is a lot of fun. So this is for my 4 wonderful children …

Each and every one of you were made out of love. You were wanted, needed and loved right from the very moment I knew you existed.

Shahni, as you know, I got pregnant with you in my second year of university. Surprise! I was living in Hamilton, Dad was living in Gisborne. And as you know (and so will everyone else now, those people that you haven’t told) you were conceived during a camping trip to Lake Waikaremoana. God Bless the outdoors! Dad and I did not sit down and say “hey let’s have a baby”. Still, there you were. I walked in to the on-campus doctor thinking I had food poisoned myself and walked out a mum-to-be. What the actual fuck? I’ll be honest, I cried. I had my bestie Fun Del with me, trying to comfort me best way she knew how. I cried because I was overjoyed, scared, overwhelmed, freaking out, worried but mostly because I knew I had a bubba in my puku. OMG I was going to be a Mum! A series of events followed, another story, another blog. No Shahni, you weren’t planned but oh my gee you were so so so loved and so so so wanted. We needed you in our lives. All of us. Not just Dad and I. Nana Lynn, Aunty Lisa, Nana and Poppa … you were meant to be.

When Shahni turned 1 we decided we’d like to try for another baby. My motto … “when you’re home with 1 you may as well be home with 10”. To our excitement (and some medical intervention due to secondary infertility) we became pregnant again. Shahni was 21 months old. Unfortunately that wee bubba was not meant to be. Not long after losing the baby our relationship ended. I was told without medical intervention I wouldn’t get pregnant again. So the future was uncertain. The one thing I was sure of, I had Shahni.

Noah, you came along at the beginning of our relationship. You were a surprise! Almost a miracle, though I shouldn’t use that term lightly. I wasn’t supposed to get pregnant without medical intervention. I think I can pinpoint your conception. Let’s just say Scotts Ferry, Bulls. (At this point I would like to take the time to apologise to my brother and sister-in-law. Sorry guys!) We had so much to be grateful for. Shahni was so excited to be a big sister. Your dad was excited to finally be having his own little baby. I was going to be a Mum to 2. I loved being a Mum. Aunty Lisa was pregnant with Eilish so like our pregnancies with Shahni and Natalya, we were on a “pregnant journey” together. All the grandparents were excited. There was a lot of joy and happiness surrounding us. Another little bubba that was very much wanted and loved.

I was seeing a specialist regularly since I became pregnant with Noah. Mostly because of the miscarriage but also because my pregnancy with Noah was and little troublesome. So once Noah was born I continued to see the specialist for a few more months. Noah was 5 months old and I was at my regular specialist appointment. My lovely doctor was scanning all my womanly bits and happened to mention that she could see an egg about to be released, so if I was thinking about getting pregnant again I should probably try that day and the next. I certainly didn’t race home and demand to be impregnated but certainly did start that conversation.

India, I know the date you were conceived. April 10 2002. I doubt I need to go into any details here. Let’s just say I took the specialists advice, I advised your dad and there I was, pregnant with baby number 3! So yes, India you were planned. We went out of our way to get pregnant with you. Noah was 5 months old when I got pregnant. Shahni was 3 and a half. I had wanted to be a Mum all my life. I day-dreamed about the children I would have. So I was ecstatic that yet again I was going to have another baby – you! Noah was too young to understand. Shahni was over the moon, though did order a little sister please. There were celebrations all round. A baby tends to do that. Another baby out of wedlock … but whose counting!? Right?

Zeb, it’s true that you were born in wedlock, so no, you are not a bastard! And remember when I’ve joked about being drunk when you were conceived because “I had no clue how that would have happened”? That isn’t true. I can’t pinpoint your conception and I can’t say you were conceived in the forest or in a different city but I can say that you were conceived while we were living at De Lautour Road. You were to be my last baby so I enjoyed every tiny little thing about being pregnant. I knew I was doing it all for the last time. I even found out I was pregnant with you on my birthday so that was a fabulous birthday present. Zeb, you weren’t a planned baby like India. Do not freak out. I was just waiting for you. I didn’t know when but I knew you would happen.

So you all see, you were all lovely little surprises. I wanted and needed all of you. You are all a blessing with sugar on top. Hopefully you all know just how much you are loved, before you read this. I know you will all continue to take the piss out of each other and that is fine. It’s what we do.

!@#$% … Swears like a trooper

From the get-go it is only fair I confess … I swear.  I have a potty mouth. I pick and choose (obviously) when I ‘m going to blaspheme.  To pretend that I’m an angel that doesn’t swear would be a big fat lie.

As a teacher, I do not swear in the classroom.  For obvious reasons.  I’m the adult that is having a positive influence.  I am the role model. Though that doesn’t stop my little cherubs from throwing some pretty colourful language out there.

As a Mum, I again, try to be that positive role model. My kids aren’t silly, they know better – Mum is no better than the next person. She swears like a trooper!

What does that even mean? Where did that expression even come from? Well, after a quick Google check … “swear like a trooper (uk) to use a lot of offensive language.  He was extremely drunk and swearing like a trooper”.

Makes me sound like a right gem!  To be clear, I’m not drunk while I write this.

I guess I wanted to warn those that are spending time reading my blogs, in up and coming posts, I may use a swear word or two. I don’t want to be judged and yet I guess I will be. It’s hard to explain why I swear –  for emphasis, to add emotion, pure laziness – but I do. My Mum introduced me to some right doozies as a youngster. Some of them stuck! If there was anyone that “swore like a trooper”, it’s my Mum, and she’s proud! It’s second nature … every second word … inhaling and exhaling bad language.

I wanted to share a little something. Something that my mother thought would be hilarious to teach all her grandchildren. Just a quick word here; we are Catholic, my children are all baptised and confirmed Catholics. I had tried to provide a good spiritual foundation for all the children. My Mum was also baptised and confirmed and also provided with a strong  Catholic foundation. From a young age Mum ran in the opposite direction though and has continued to do so.  Her contribution to the grandchildren’s upbringing: “I’m a little Catholic, I don’t swear. Bloody, bitch bastard, I don’t care”.  Harmless, but that was just the beginning. She doesn’t hold back. Not for anyone. Half the time I don’t even think she realises she is swearing. Every second word is fuck, bitch or bastard … quite popular in our household as well.

There is one cussing word that I absolutely cannot stand and will not tolerate. The kids know it and anyone that knows me well, knows it. It is vile and vulgar, repulsive and unpleasant. If I was to ever use the word to describe another human being, they must have done the absolute worst possible thing to me. I would never use the word lightly. Those that do use it in my presence … God help them!  Starts with a C and rhymes with bunt. I don’t even want to write it down. So to be clear, I won’t be using “that” word in any of my blogs, unless I’m quoting someone. Even then, I’ll never write the full word. So many other words in our rich English language …

Swearing … because “gosh darn” and “boogerhead” just don’t cover it! (Unsupervised Mom).

 

Wonder …

Have you ever just stood beside your baby’s cot and watched her while she is sleeping?  Have you ever been so grateful and thankful that she is healthy and happy and all yours?  Have hours just passed by while you adore this little bundle of joy?  Have tears spilled out because you’ve realised that she is yours, a gift, a reason for life, perfection amongst so much imperfection?   Have you ever played a song really loud and danced and sang around the cot while your little bundle of joy lies there watching intently, smiling, chuckling, kicking her legs in excitement?

I have done all of these.

To this day, this one song will take me right back to 44 Winter Street, in our room , Shahni looking up at me with those big, bright blue eyes, enthralled by her mothers’ craziness.  More than that … it’s the lyrics, the meaning behind the song and the amazing voice of Natalie Merchant.  I always had high hopes and expectations for each one of my children.  I believe each one of them is a gift and comes with their own unique gifts.

Natalie Merchant was inspired to write this song after spending time at a day camp for special needs children, many of whom had been institutionalised since they were born and had been abandoned by their parents. This song was inspired by that experience.  Little did I know that later in life Shahni would also have this same compassion and commitment to support and work with people that don’t always have an easy road.

Shahni, for me, you really are one of the wonders of God’s own creation.  You have been gifted with love, patience and faith.  Right from the minute I knew you existed, I knew you were going to be special.  I knew you were meant to be and you came to us all at a time when we all needed you.  A true gift.  You are that person that people will follow.  You are the person that others will choose to tell their secrets to, their troubles, their stories.  You are the person that lights up the room when you walk in.  You are real.  A natural.  Down-to-earth.  Your gift is the way that you work alongside others, the way you respect every single person that comes your way, the way you give of your time, you listen and care.

Whatever you choose to do in life, I know, you will make your way!

 

Lyrics

“Doctors have come from distant cities just to see me, stand over my bed disbelieving what they’re seeing. They say I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation and as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.

Newspapers ask intimate questions, they want confessions. They reach into my head to steal the glory of my story. They say I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation and as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.

I believe fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle, “know this child will be able.” Laughed as my body she lifted, “know this child will be gifted” with love, with patience and with faith she’ll make her way.

People see me; I’m a challenge to your balance. I’m over your heads; how I confound you and astound you to know I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation, and as far as you can see you can offer me no explanation.

I believe fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle, “know this child will be able.” Laughed as she came to my mother, “know this child will not suffer.” Laughed as my body she lifted, “know this child will be gifted” with love, with patience and with faith she’ll make her way.”

Natalie Merchant / Indian Love Bride ©1995

Leaving 40 … So why blog?

It’s time.  Time to put the crochet hook aside and start writing.  Perhaps I also need to stop watching Pretty Little Liars as well, but I’m a mum, school-teacher, partner – I am woman … I’m really good at multi-tasking!   I’ve thought about doing this for a while now.  I feel like I should have put more thought into this, been more organised but oh well … here I am … finally made a start.  (Just on that … I really struggled to set this up. I think I’ve actually signed up to 2 blog sites and the other one I actually had to part with some cash. Such an amateur!)

I’m about to turn 41 next week. I made a plan to start blogging before I turn 41. Even if it was one of the last things I do as a 40 year old.  3 days to go … and counting.

So why blog?  That was a question I asked myself and had to scout the world wide web to see what everyone else was blogging about.  Turns out, anything.  And nothing.  Or everything.  It doesn’t matter what you write about because it’s your blog.  And yes, there will be people out there that disagree, that have their opinions and apparently that is okay.  It’s still your blog.

The other reason I’ve chosen to blog?  I’ve wanted to write for a long time.  I want to write children’s books.  I have a theme already to go.  I want to write a series of books for teenagers.   Ideas are ready to spill out.  I want to write about my mothers’ life.  Tell her story.  Lately I’ve had so many things going around in my head and felt a need to get them out.  I thought about a diary but from experience, that has never worked for me.  Blogging seems to be a trend. So, why not? Blog!

My main reason for blogging?  One day I won’t be around for my children or their children.  They will no longer hear my voice, be able to listen to my ravings, share in my opinions, block out my singing … so I want to leave them something they can have forever.  And we all know that everything on the internet is forever.  Even if you don’t want it to be sometimes.  They probably think that me writing a blog is “lame”.  They have all sorts of words for their mothers’ “lameness” but being 40 “lame” was the only word I could come up with.  Still, “lame” or not, here I am almost at the end of my very first blog.  I feel somewhat accomplished and yet I know this is just the beginning.  There is plenty more where this came from.  Word of warning – some of these blogs may be downright ridiculous, some may offend, some may be sad and some may be quirky, funny and out there.  Proceed with caution!