Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tired Of Being A Whiny Dragon....

After the holiday chaos and almost a week without computers while we switch things around in the basement office, I can get back to blogging at last... and yet I don’t really feel like saying much because it feels as if I am always whining.

I posted a notice to a Yahoo group about a copyright abuse today and basically got “trashed” for saying anything. As tempted as I was to reply and repost, I really didn’t want to get into a cyber pissing match with a group who is convinced that they aren’t doing anything wrong.

I think that as I look forward to the next year, I would like to put more of my energies into the things that still bring me joy and explore other aspects of what it is to be creative or seek to create things so that the entries in this blog are more fun to read. For those of you who have slogged through entries with me over this past year... THANK YOU. I promise that in 2005 entries will be shorter, more often and more amusing!!

To give you a grin... here is a cyber version of the much belated verse that is going out to family and friends as our After Christmas Letter!!

As we sat down to scribble out
A charming Christmas letter,
It was so full of blah, blah
That we thought a verse was better.

It’s short and sweet and to the point,
Yet keeps you all updated
On everything that’s going on
And what’s got us so elated.

Bethany has started school
And is learning how to read,
With swimming, Sparks and choir,
She’s a busy girl indeed!

Erin is in a 4-5 split.
She is loving Girl Guides too,
piano, gym and swimming,
plus she measures 5 foot 2!

Nick’s now in Petitcodiac,
As the K to 5 VP,
With a whole wave retiring
Soon a principal he’ll be?????

Jennifer still works from home,
Creating things to stitch,
Yet building on the freelance art,
‘Cause cross stitch has been a ........ little bit slow!

So there you have the year’s big news
We tried hard to keep it terse...
But friends, just like in marriage,
Must take us for Better and Verse!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Deck the Halls with Tons of Patterns....

Be careful what you wish for.... you just might get it.

I had given up on two of my designs being picked up by one of my distributors. After all, I’d sent the samples off in July and never heard a thing. Last Friday, my fax beeped and across came the order, which must be in the USA at its destination on the 28th of December. Yikes!! One of the designs was no problem because No Late Knight Snacking is already printed up, but Dream Sampler is one of the designs which I had only been printing out the covers myself for the chart packs. This works well for anything under 300 of a design because the cost per cover is about the same and I don’t have to carry the inventory around already paid for but waiting to sell. Luckily, the printer I work with was able to find some press time this week and I will hopefully have all the newly printed covers in hand by tomorrow at the latest to batch with the pages and stuff into bags. Since stuff with the chain stores also has to be boxed a certain way (100/box) I also ordered boxes to put them in since chart packs are bigger than the boxes I had made to hold leaflets a few years ago. (That was another learning curve and I will be using up that size box FOREVER!)

So as soon as school is out for the holidays, tomorrow, I am putting my family (along with some of the company we are expecting this weekend) to work so that this second pattern can ship out on Monday. I sent the other one on ahead last night with Purolator because I know how badly the holidays are going to muck up shipping deadlines.

I’ve also been totally enthralled with an illustration project that is certainly getting my hands back in the habit of using pen and pencil instead of needle to capture images. I should hear back from that client about the approval on the pencils tomorrow so that I can move on to adding colour. Yay!

My office looks pretty crowded with patterns waiting to be assembles, so I couldn’t resist the title of today’s blog. One of the hazards of a home based business is that your halls get decked (or blocked) with things other than holly and mistletoe... but next week it will be such fun to sleep in a bit!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Season of Unexpected Gifts...

Sometimes, in this season of lights in the darkness and thoughtful gifts, come presents that just cannot be wrapped in shiny paper. Yesterday was one of those unexpected presents as Mother Nature sent a horrid combination of snow, ice rain and finally huge, fluffy flakes to cover up all the sleet. Schools in most of the Province were closed, so Nick and I got to slip back into dreams under our nice warm duvet as soon as they announced the closures at 6:15 am. I was just surfacing from the last traces of a dream when Erin came barreling into our room two hours later in a panic. She’d just woken up and looked out to see that there wasn’t much snow on the ground, but didn’t see the ice rain. She assumed that we’d all overslept and that she was going to be late for school which was due to start in 5 minutes!

Once the girls realized that they had a snow day, the whoops of joy began. I made them blueberry muffins for breakfast while they hid upstairs practicing a Play that they intended to put on for us as soon as we’d all eaten. Sure enough, they treated us to a hilarious production of “The Odd-Coloured Reindeer” in which Bethany played two roles, her favourite being Rudolf’s odd-coloured daughter. This reindeer was PINK, so she had on one of Erin’s dresses, black socks on her hands and feet for hooves and then the headband antlers that come out with the decorations once a year. Since they were bright red instead of brown, the story was adapted to include the fact that her antlers glowed too!

After they cleaned up the “set”, they moved on to a massive Barbie game in the basement, a session of dress-up where I had to keep encouraging them to put on just a bit more clothing (it wasn’t THAT warm in the basement!) and finally a puzzle session in the living room. Luckily, they cleaned each thing up before moving on, but it was giddily exhausting to watch them play!

I still managed to get quite a bit of work done and even some stitching, but it was fun to have two different kinds of soup simmering on the stove and the sounds of giggles in the background. Nick braved the storm to get a few groceries, but the rest of us just stayed cozy in the house and celebrated this unexpected pause in a most hectic time of the year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Higher Callings???

After positing my last blog about all the chaos, I can honestly say that I’ve been VERY glad to do what I do from home over the past week. Last Thursday night I didn’t feel well, so once the kids got off to school Friday morning, I crept back home and into bed until Bethany got off the bus that afternoon. I found another instructor to handle my circuit training class for Saturday morning and just slept off an awful flu that consisted of aches, chills and feeling carsick most of the time I was conscious. By Sunday, I was feeling Human again (funny... that expression always makes me think of talking candlesticks and singing clocks since they added the song to the Beauty and the Beast DVD!)

Sunday afternoon, Erin started to come down with it and has been home shivering and feeling miserable for 2 days now. Last night, she handed me a note that told me how glad she was that I worked from home so that I could be there when she was sick.

Yes, I sometimes want to pull my hair out trying to be a wife, mother and small business owner, but in the long run, I wouldn’t walk in anyone else’s shoes. I just got a new illustration assignment that will keep me busy for the next few weeks and give me some great additions to my portfolio... plus I can’t wait to put up some of the surprises for the holidays on my website!

They say there may be a snowstorm or freezing rain storm for tomorrow morning.... Hmmmmm. I wonder how hard my husband and kids will be doing their storm dance??

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Of Santa Parades, Crazy Days, Hurt Hamsters and Introspective Moments...

I’m sure that some of you thought I’d disappeared forever. Maybe many of you even stopped checking this page for entries.. I am sorry. I know that when I hide from my journal or my blog, it is because I am wrestling with issues that just can’t make it into words yet. Being glib and funny seem to come very naturally, but the deeper emotions are so much harder to put into words. It is far easier to get caught up in the whirlwind of daily life and not have to think about things too deeply.

November was a very introspective month. With the rise of the Canadian dollar, the exchange on all of my cheques from the USA suddenly became 20% smaller and ate up the margin I normally relied on to cover the added cost of shipping from Canada etc. This, coupled with a soft market right now in cross stitch really made me spend some time questioning what it was I had chosen to do as a career. Nothing like navel gazing to get you stuck in one of those endless loops of self-doubt or rationalizing. Being the optimist, I also hated sounding negative every time I sat down to write an entry in my journal or for the blog. I started this as a way to offer people a better insight into what the life of this designer is really like (as opposed to the millionaire myths that float around some of the pattern trading groups out there!) and so the last thing I wanted entries to turn into was a giant pity party. Introspection and self-analysis are also things that are much harder to do in public that in private.

Spending time thinking and listening for that still small voice that whispers into the quiet of your questions was a big help. When it came right down to it, I knew that I would never walk away from designing cross stitch completely... it was too much darn fun to play with all the fibers!! There are also things that I can do with needle and thread on fabric that I just can’t duplicate in illustration. But... I did realize that I have to be able to adapt the business to my needs instead of running to try to make the business everything. After a LOT of late nights, I decided not to do the show in Columbus next summer because the chaos this year of traveling to a trade show during the last few weeks of school was just too hard. I hate being pulled in half like that between Mom and business woman. One of the most wonderful things about having a distributor is that I CAN release new designs without being there in person. No... it won’t have as much impact as being there to meet shop owners and show off my stuff, but the sense of stress got much better after making that decision.

One of the other hard things to face was the realization that I was going to have to put my prices up a bit for 2005, something I had put off for over 2 years. It’s not going to be a huge jump, but any time things get more expensive instead of less, there is always grumbling. I did just that in the movie line last week when we went to an evening show instead of a matinee. OUCH!

So, as I was doing all this deep introspective thinking, I also threw myself into a few projects. Nothing like making yourself so busy that you don’t have too much time to think!! Erin and Bethany’s school had a float in this year’s Santa Claus Parade, held last weekend, and I had suddenly gone from doing a sketch of what the float could look like to actually painting the props and spray painting drop cloths for side banners in a garage in almost subzero temperatures. We kept the bay door open for ventilation, but I was still a pretty dizzy dragon by the end of 8 banners. They had talked about getting school kids to cut out letters from construction paper and gluing them on to the banners... but since it rained heavily last year, I knew that was not going to be a very good idea. Grabbing a few cans of spray paint, I got into graffiti mode and even put some of the letters backwards since the theme of our float was “THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS OOOOOPS!” We had a house with a chimney and Santa’s boots sticking out, skaters falling down, kids wrapped up in the ribbon from presents, a mom holding a tray of burnt gingerbread men (black foam meat trays cut in gingerbread shapes) and a tree tipping over with a doll sized angel that I made by covering a fabric softener bottle and coat hanger arms with a comical doll stitched from my old pink long underwear. It was the only pink fabric I had in the whole house and no car to go fetch some. Necessity is the mother of invention, but I have warned Nick that a new pair of long underwear might be nice to keep the dragon toasty through the deep dark of winter!! I also learned how to convert sound effects files to mac format and burn them to CD after a production friend of mine mailed me sounds of things breaking to use but in a Windows format! All in all, the time was well spent. Erin had an awesome time singing in the school choir on the float even though it meant repeating the same song for two hours and Queen Elizabeth took first place again in the Elementary/Middle School category!!!

This is the time of year when there are so many events on the calendar that it is hard to remember who needs to go where if you don’t write everything down. Getting things written on the proper day also helps! We had a mini crisis last night because Erin was being enrolled as a Girl Guide, but I had written the event on the wrong week! A quick call to the leader confirmed the real date, but I felt pretty silly admitting I’d written it down wrong!

Amid all this event chaos, we also had the trauma of our hamster Nipper getting hurt! Monday night is garbage night, so in the afternoon, the girls and I always let Nipper out of her cage into a “scurry maze” (made of taped together cereal, pasta and poptart boxes) or into the big rubbermaid bin with a kleenex box house and some toilet paper tubes to crawl through. Last week Erin had also added a Barbie toy castle because it had a little door to crawl through, but I was worried about the steps on it leading to a tiny second level. This time, I asked her to just put in the kleenex box and tubes. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that the castle was also in there until I turned and saw Nipper on the upper level stuck halfway in trying to go over the crenellations of the castle top. I scooped her up to keep her from falling over and put her down in the bin, only to notice moments later that there was blood!! We got her scooped into her clear ball so that I could try to find out what she had hurt, but her back end and feet were so covered in blood that I couldn’t tell where it was coming from!

By this point, both girls were in absolute tears and hysterics that our hamster was going to die! I put on a thick pair of rubber gloves and managed to get a squealing, nipping hamster onto its back in the palm of my hand to check on her and sure enough there was a laceration right in her groin area where she’d gotten stuck on the castle. OUCH! Erin began to wail at this point because she felt guilty but I popped the hamster into the carry box we used to bring her home from the pet store and began to comb the yellow pages for a vet who handled smaller animals. I discovered that Dwarf Hamsters fall under the “exotic” category and made an appointment to visit one across town, then called the cab company. Traffic being what it is in our city from 4 - 5pm, the taxi pulled in almost 35 minutes later (35 very LONG, tear-filled, box-scrabbling, hamster in box in Bethany’s hat to keep it warm minutes) right behind Nick’s van. Imagine getting home from a hard day’s work to two hysterical daughters trying to tell you about a bleeding rodent (a type of animal you have a barely contained loathing for anyway) and how we need to go RIGHT AWAY to the vet. Poor Nick!

We got Nipper seen by the vet and his two assistants (one to examine, two to hold) and were told that she was too tiny for stitches in that area or a bandage (since other things need to be able to get out) but given good tips on how to care for her and what to watch out for. Nipper spent two nights in a rubbermaid tote lined with a soft towel and kleenex box to hide in, but moved back to her cage this morning and has been running on her wheel like crazy. She is eating and drinking well, so we’ll just hope things work out for the best. It is funny how quickly we get attached to our furry little friends.

So there you have most of the crazies of the past month in a nutshell. I’m still going to be designing cross stitch... in fact I am absolutely hooked on stitching the border for my new Dragon of the Deeps... but I have also wanted to do illustration from the time I was 11. It is time to chase that dream as well and diversify a bit.

Life is just too short not to try chasing your dreams with all that is within you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Joy Of Amazing Your Kids.... (or Watching Their Eyes Shine)

Sometimes, being able to make a dream come true for your children is worth its weight in gold. Long before I began to design needlework, when I first moved to Moncton to find work and marry Nick, I ended up in radio. I wrote copy at one of the local radio stations that used to bear the call letters CKCW and CFQM (the Country sister station). Eventually, I learned to do some voicing as well as radio cut-ins before moving on to work at an ad agency. I stayed in touch with a few friends, including Terri who came with me to Retreat this past weekend. It was during the drive up that I learned this year’s Canadian Idol, Kalan Porter, was coming to the station today for some interviews and to meet some contest winners. Terri also mentioned that some of the staff were bringing their kids to meet him at a separate, private event in the afternoon. So, knowing how much Erin “idolized” Kalan, I asked if we could be included. It never hurts to ask, right?

I found out yesterday that our attendance at “Operation Kalan” was approved by the powers that be, but only if I promised to keep the whole thing secret. I asked Erin to come right home after school because we were going somewhere as a surprise... but left it at that. When she came home, I made her change into a nicer top and brush her hair, so she was immediately suspicious. Just before the taxi arrived (This happens to be Nick’s week to be the driver in the car pool) I told her that she might need to bring the envelope on the kitchen table along with us. Inside was the drawing that she had made of Kalan and the runner up Teresa, right before the final night of the contest. I’d mounted it to some scrap booking paper so that there was room for his autograph if she wanted to keep it, or a message from her if she chose to give her drawing to him. The look on her face and the screech she let out were priceless.

Off we went to the radio station, about half an hour early so that we could get inside before the fans arrived. Sure enough, by the time Kalan and his entourage pulled up, there was a crowd of screaming teenagers (and some adults too) outside in the parking lot, trying to get a glimpse of their Idol. Into the station he came and I watched Erin become totally star struck and shy. She even tried to hide behind the door when he came into the boardroom! There was more time before his radio interviews than they had expected, so they decided to do the staff meet & greet early. Other people introduced themselves and got pictures, then Erin shyly gave him the drawing and posed for pictures. The glossy photo slicks had to be saved for the session with the contest winners, but they made some black and white photocopies which he autographed for both my girls and the other guests, much to Erin’s delight. Then, the girls and I posed with him for a family shot while Terri used my camera.

I must say that this gracious and talented young man was warm, inviting and as impressive in person as he was on TV. When it came time to leave the station, about 10 minutes before Kalan’s departure, many of the people in the crowd kept asking why WE go to be inside. I just ushered my kids through the chaos to where Nick was waiting and replied with a VERY satisfied grin “I used to work here!”

Pulling a few strings and watching your oldest child go to bed with stars in her eyes..... priceless!!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Retreat Bliss and Back To Reality...

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting away from it all, especially if your are going to a wonderful location with other women you admire, great food, laughter and a whole weekend in which to stitch!!! For those of you who have never been to a Stitching Retreat, I highly recommend it... you will be hooked!

This time, I brought a new friend along. Terri is a diehard stitcher and has helped me in Nashville before, but she’d never been to Retreat, so I coaxed her into coming. We drove up at supper time on Friday and discovered that most of the people were already there, set up and stitching away! We found some space on the stage and set up our stitching nooks then made our way down to one of the cabins to claim some bunk space. I always take a mattress from one of the top bunks and just sleep on the floor because for some strange reason, bunk beds aren’t made long enough! Once we got our gear into the cabin and our bed space staked out, we trudged back up to the main lodge with the last of our stitching accessories and snacks in time for the 7:00 pm registration.

The rest of the weekend went by in an absolute blur. From late night snacks and silly jokes to the Saturday morning craft sale at a nearby church, from Silent Auctions and raffles raising over $700.00 for charity to an ornament exchange, there was never a dull moment. I even got plenty of stitching done!! With the peace and quiet of someone else cooking all the meals and no small children or husband to interrupt, I was able to spread out all my floss, braid and overdyeds to get the border of my new dragon just the way I wanted it at last. I stitched up the whole top band, including the beads, so I am hoping that “Dragon of the Deeps” will be ready for Nashville. I also worked on stitching up one of my Dragon Doorstop painted canvases and finished knitting a scarf.

One of the other cool things about Retreat is that some of the stitchers form little circles and give themselves names or themes for each retreat. The group from Fredericton took the ornament I designed for this year’s Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue and each made up their own version using my design and Tracy’s button (she is part of their group). It was such fun to see a dozen versions of the ornament hanging from people’s lights!!

Saturday was made even cozier by the fact that the snow began to fall early in the morning and kept up all day. Many of us stayed up late on Saturday night because you just don’t want that Retreat magic to be over. We found out on Sunday morning that Nova Scotia had been blanketed by more than 35 cm (more than a foot!) of the white stuff, but Moncton got less than 15 cm (approx. 6 inches). We were all so cozy and warm that it made us feel very much in the holiday spirit for the ornament exchange.

After lunch on Sunday, everyone packed up and headed home much refreshed (except those heading home to Nova Scotia). Terri dropped me off at St. Pat’s where Erin was having her swimming lesson and then it was off to church for the taping of the Sunbeam Choir’s two songs for a CD that our church is putting out. Erin was very proud to have a solo verse but found it strange to listen to her own voice when played back. Having worked in radio for many years, I am used to how different my voice sounds on tape to my own ears, but this was her first time hearing how she sounds to others. We finished just in time to head to the movie theater to see The Incredibles (though we missed the trailers and the first 2 minutes of the movie) and we laughed ourselves silly as a family.

Nick was wonderful and took both of the girls to choir tonight so that I could finally get to my blog and recapture some of that peaceful feeling that tried to evaporate at bedtime last night when they were both grumpy. I think I can handle reality now... at least for a little while!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Of Head Colds, Family Ties and Remembrance Day...

I haven’t had much energy to blog because I have been fighting a miserable head cold since last Friday that is just finally breaking up. Monday morning once the kids got off to school, I just crawled back into bed even though I had work to do. I think sometimes that investing in companies like Kleenex or Halls would be very profitable!

This was also a wonderful week for hearing from family. I’d been pestering my little brother Zach (from Dad’s second marriage) who is off at his first year of University. We’d sent a care package for his birthday that was going to arrive late but then his blog went silent for over a week and I began to wonder if our cookies had sent him to the hospital or something. It just turned out that his group project had to be completely reworked and the code for their game rewritten. (He’s at DigiPen in Seattle studying game design)

I also had a wonderful phone call with my Dad and then Tuesday a parcel arrived from my sister in Japan... a belated birthday parcel that made me squeal when I opened it and gave both girls a severe case of jealousy attacks. Laurie knows that I love Anime and hamster stuff, so I got stickers and an adorable colouring book that had Bethany in tears until I promised that she could colour a few pages with me “on days when she was really good!” (what a Mom to bribe her kid like that!) We actually coloured one page yesterday afternoon and I have never seen a more colourful bunny in all my life! Laurie had thoughtfully tucked little “unbirthday presents” for both the girls and Nick in the parcel, so she is still considered the best Auntie/Sister-in-law on the planet, but it was a bit hard to convince the girls that all the other stuff, no matter how cute, was MINE!!! Who says you are ever too old for toys, stickers or Manga (comics)??

Today, both girls took part in the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Moncton Coliseum. Bethany was quite worried because her Sparks leader had stressed how important it was to be quiet during the service. This morning there were tears as we got into her uniform when Bethany sobbed “But Mommy, I can’t be quiet because I’ve never been quiet unless I am asleep and even then you tell me I talk in my sleep sometimes and I don’t think I can do this because it isn’t fair to ask little kids to be quiet when we learn to talk and don’t know how to be quiet for more than one whole minute!” She and her Sparks group were VERY well behaved and far less wiggly than the other Sparks unit or the Brownies directly behind them. The leaders sat them down quietly whenever possible and that also helped.

Erin was quite proud today because she got to carry the Westmoreland Division Girl Guide flag and lead in the Guides. She told me after the ceremony that it also helped to have the flag pole to clutch during the one or two moments that she felt dizzy. The Guides remained standing for the full ceremony. Only one of them got dizzy enough to need to sit down, but quite a few of the Air and Sea Cadets fainted or had to be led away to the First Aid Station. Must be the heavier boots and full dress uniform that makes them more prone to passing out.

The rest of the day was fairly quiet. The girls head off to Nick’s mother’s for the weekend and I am off to a cross stitch retreat weekend (YAY!) with no phone, no kids and all my meals taken care of. It doesn’t matter than I have to pull the mattress off the bunk bed and onto the floor in order not to have most of my legs from the calf down hanging out into space... this is time to get away and stitch to my heart’s content (or design!) Nick will also have some wonderful alone time and the freedom to work at the church pancake breakfast this Saturday without worrying about the girls.

Sometimes, when we spend a little time away from those we love, we learn how glad we are to have them in our lives. Strange isn’t it.
“Let there be space in your togetherness” - Kahil Gibran

Friday, November 05, 2004

First Snow Crazies

Funny how two girls that are usually such bed slugs in the morning both leapt out of bed with wild shrieks this morning when their Daddy told them it was snowing! The fat, white fluffy flakes had turned to sleet and slush by the time we went up to the bus stop, but both girls were taking great delight in making tiny piles of slush to jump on and spattering me with “wet slush guts!” Yeeeesh!

I’ve assigned this morning as “catch up on e-mail” time since it is so easy to get impossibly behind when over 80 messages a day come in. I’d love to delegate that task to someone, but since Erin isn’t old enough yet to be a computer helper, I try to keep on top of things as best I can. I have over 750 in the box right now and need to weed that down to at least 650 by filing, sorting and saving them to disk. That should clear up some memory in the e-mail program and stop it from being grumpy.

Yesterday was the only sunny day since last Saturday and I ran around the house in a blaze of energy sorting and tidying, getting laundry on the line and sketching out ideas in the sunshine at our dining room table before Erin took it over with her homework. We knew that being in a 4-5 combined class would challenge her, but the homework has been exceptionally heavy this week and she felt very overwhelmed by bedtime last night. It was the first time she looked at me at 8:30 at night and said “I just want to go to sleep, my brain is tired!” She leapt out of bed to see the snow and then remembered a small assignment that wasn’t in her homework book so she raced downstairs to copy out her verb conjugation of MANGER (to eat) 5 times before breakfast. The average rule of 15 minutes per grade level certainly didn’t apply this week, but she’s learning to get things like projects and book reports done steadily instead of waiting for the end of November deadline. I’m also learning from her as well. So often, I end up with crazy, last minute deadlines... but since Toronto, I have been doing well at keeping ahead of the game and not giving myself too many “superwoman” goals. Now that I’ve written that down in my blog, I hope those don’t end up being famous last words!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Of Hissy-Fits and Hamster Wisdom

It’s one of those cold, grey, rainy days in November that really lets you know Winter is on the way... just cold enough to make being wet miserable as you stand waiting with your children for a school bus that has yet to meet a regular pickup time. I walked home trying not to step in any puddles since my boots seem to have sprung some new leaks, knowing that it was going to feel wonderful to wrap my hands around a mug of warm tea as I blogged this.

It has been raining and cold since Halloween night, so perhaps it is getting to the girls, but they were just horrid to each other yesterday. I had the van in order to take Erin to the doctor’s for a follow-up to make sure that her tonsils were going back down after the last infection and tried to do most of my messages before I picked them up from school. During the one stop I couldn’t put off and was looking forward to the most, they got into a huge fight in the store and Bethany ended up having one of those total meltdown hissy fits that I haven’t seen in ages. Absolutely mortified but sticking to my guns of “This is not how we behave in a store we are leaving NOW!” I handed the book making papers I’d wanted to play with back to the sales clerk and told him that I would be back to shop sometime without my children before marching them both to the van. Before we had children, I can remember seeing other kids have hissy-fits in stores and thinking to myself, rather smugly, MY children will never do that!! I am sure seeing my two at their finest yesterday was a wonderful form of birth control for any single people in the shop. The amazing thing is how quickly tantrums like that blow over in children. Perhaps they haven’t yet mastered the adult art of holding a grudge. Within half an hour of getting home, Bethany wandered down from her room with a hand drawn “Sorry” card to Erin and I. Erin was more reluctant about saying sorry back to her sister, so perhaps she is already learning what we adults should not be proud of knowing... how to keep anger inside and let it smolder. At least by this morning, all seemed to have been forgotten and forgiven.

Coming down into the basement with my mug of tea, I peeked in on Nipper, our dwarf hamster, who was curled up snugly in her nest of shredded kleenex and toilet paper. We just learned a few days ago that the fluffy bedding we’d been buying at the pet shop was probably not the best thing for her to sleep in since arranging it can sometimes harm their little cheek pouches. Kleenex and toilet paper will be much cheaper anyway and she certainly has had fun shredding it even smaller than we provided it to make herself cozy.

I watched her twitch in her sleep and felt a bit envious at her wisdom. Nipper obviously knew that this was the time of wet, cold day where one should just snuggle up somewhere cozy and do very little. We’ve just put the fuzzy “Brunswick” sheets on our bed (sometimes called health sheets and oh so wonderfully cozy) and the urge to crawl back under them was pretty tempting... until I thought about the heart attack that might give our cleaning ladies this morning. I don’t wake up from naps very well and nothing is scarier than a grumpy dragon with bed head! I shall have to pass on that Hamster wisdom for now and get my work done...

Monday, November 01, 2004

Silences... Spirits... and Saying Goodbyes!

I’ve been quiet these days since getting back from Toronto. Partly because I needed some time just to hear myself think after the chaos of getting ready for the show. As an extrovert, I love to spend time with people like that... I get recharged in so many ways... and yet it still takes a lot out of me, so I think I just gathered in on myself for a while, unsure of what to say next.

There have also been two precious daughters that wanted a lot of attention once I got back and had lots of events & projects lined up. We got through parent/teacher interviews on Wednesday night and then I had the girls home with me for 2 days while there was no school. We carved SIX pumpkins this year and despite the awful drizzle tonight, most of them stayed light until the end. The girls and I had a very damp, chilly time trick or treating, but I popped them in the bath once we got back home and made them some Lipton soup before they sorted out their “loot” and scarfed down a few treats. It was a much better night that a year ago when I discovered that Bethany had broken out with her chicken pox 14 days after her sister as we were taking off her costume!

Silences sometime give us the break we need to really think about things. Last Monday night, I played for almost 5 hours at making an Inspiration Journal... a book of quotes and colours and things to read over when my batteries are feeling low. It uses a lot of the same techniques as scrapbooking... but the book itself is also the project. I had a blast just playing with colours, textures and lettering. It wasn’t something as work... just sheer play. Friday night, I made my second one as a tribute to a wonderful man in our church family who passed away this week. I wanted his family to know how much he had touched the lives of everyone in our family over the past year and let them know that we will miss him too. Today, we said goodbye to him in a glorious celebration of his life. The word funeral doesn’t quite fit. I sang in the choir and many of us kept the tears from flowing too heavily until we’d finished the last triumphant anthem. Then, it was safe to let the tears spill over. Erin found this death especially hard because at 9, she is just becoming aware that she too may have to face goodbyes like this someday. It made her sad to know that her friend, Sarah, had lost her grandfather. Not only did she ache for Sarah’s loss, she was shaken to think of how that might feel if she were to lose someone she loved that much. Sharing in the celebration of his life today and being there to give her friend a hug when most of the grown-ups were paying attention to each other seemed to really help.

Spirit is up at last on the website as a Halloween treat (though she’ll stay on the newsletter until December and then move to the samples page) and it feels odd to wrap up that series and say “goodbye” to it as well. It has been satisfying to create something that tried to encourage others to share their time or talents to make the world a better place.

As I move on to some new projects and challenges this month, I am going to try to get back into the habit of blogging. I find that when I let that , or my journaling, slip through my fingers and days run into each other, I am somehow more out of touch with myself..... and besides. The more my hands are on the keyboard, the less likely they are to raid the kids Halloween treats!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

There’s No Place Like Home!!

Toronto was a blast!! I had such fun meeting people in my classes, watching them be creative, sharing laughs or chocolate and being around people who share a love of making things with their hands. I also found far too many tempting things on the trade show floor from new wools to knit with and beads to play with as well as new colours to inspire stitching designs... but it is also really good to be home!

Even though I grew up in a bustling city (Montreal), I have gotten quite comfortable with the pace of life here in Moncton over the past 16 years. I prefer the time it takes for me to get anywhere, the cost of cab rides, the friendliness of the people and the selection of shopping. The only thing I might miss is the vast selection of ethnic foods to enjoy or the access to a wider variety of entertainment (musicals, plays, more movie theaters etc.) The whirlwind pace of Downtown Toronto was fun for 5 days... but I am glad to live where I do.

Easing back into the post show routine was a bit more hectic this year because I wanted to spend time with my Mom and John, who just left yesterday, still had two graphics projects that were at the approval stage so now I want to have them wrapped up, invoiced and paid for, plus I had a few commitments that I had set up before the show. Yesterday, I went along as a helper/volunteer when Bethany’s Kindergarten class visited an orchard about 20 minutes outside of Moncton. She was THRILLED to have her Mommy along... and I had all of the adults in stitches because I discovered that I fit even worse on a school bus that I do on a plane! I had to duck to walk down the aisle of the bus, then I couldn’t get my knees in the seat, so I had to turn sideways a bit and put my knees out into the aisle. It makes sense when you think about it. Very few people getting on a school bus are 6’5”!!
Watching Bethany and her friends each pull a crunchy red apple off the tree and then having her beam at me in the tractor pulled wagon as we bumped along back to the main building made me realize that I love having control over my hours (well... at least control over when I choose to do something else and make it up later at night!) and being able to fit adventures like that into my schedule!

So now I just have to sift through all of the e-mail that came in while I was away and get Spirit ready to go up on the site next Sunday night (October 31st). I guess I can resist the urge to just hide in bed and catch up on sleep!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Toronto Bound!

Thanksgiving weekend is a blur! The weather here was absolutely gorgeous on Friday and Saturday, bearable on Sunday and then the heavens opened and the high winds hit as the remnants of Nicole and another system clashed above us. Nothing like Juan, but down came many of the beautiful leaves we’d been admiring all weekend! We went down to Nick’s mother’s house for our Thanksgiving meal (though I still cooked a turkey at our house on Saturday just to have leftovers and bones to make soup from) and savour one of the bottles of French wine we’d brought home with us from our summer adventures. It doesn’t seem possible that it was over 2 months ago! As the wind whipped and howled around our house Monday night and the rain lashed the windows, I had a whole new sense of appreciation for what the people in Florida went through. As people said to each other the next day, that was only half as hard, half as long and one instead of three!!

Now I am off to Toronto on the plane this afternoon to teach at the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival from Thursday until Sunday night. I truly enjoy working in that more intimate manner with a small group of stitchers while I am teaching new designs or techniques, but I hate all the packing up before hand. I am always so afraid that something important will be forgotten!! Bethany had a hard time at the bus stop this morning, knowing that I wouldn’t be here when she came home. It was made harder by the fact that the bus was late and the rain was drizzling down on everyone, but she stayed brave and managed to get on the bus with no tears.

My mother and stepfather arrive before supper time tonight, which should perk both Erin and Bethany up quite a bit. I know that Nick will appreciate having them around to help out. This time last year, Erin broke out with Chicken Pox while I was up in Toronto and poor Nick had to cope with them alone!! I am sure the girls will almost be having too much fun to miss me much.

It is also fun to get away on my own for a few days... and that sounds so selfish. Nick very rarely gets that chance to be away on his own and have time to spend in his own head space. It is always good to remember that you are a person and an individual as well as a spouse and parent.

I guess that is it for now, I need to check over everything to make sure that it all got packed!!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Jumbled Thoughts Of Picture Day, Hamster Feet, Pre-Show Chaos and Being Thankful...

What a week! I am sure that my thoughts will be so scattered... I just hope they make sense. Each one of these probably could have been a tiny blog entry on its own, but when things get busy, they sure pile up fast!

The girls had picture day this week and wore some of the wonderful outfits they have in their closet that have totally gone ignored because dressing down is more popular. I put my foot down and asked them to wear their little tunics because they look so nice in them. Erin really had a hard time accepting the fact that I wanted her to look a bit dressy in the picture. Isn’t it amazing how they throw your own words back at you? “You always tell me that what is INSIDE is more important, Mom!” To which I replied “Yes, but the camera can only see the outside!” I can still remember when picture day was a big deal at school because it was FUN to get dressed in something nice for the pictures. By grade 3 I knew right where to go for the class pictures too... middle spot, back row. I mourn the fact that school clothes are so much more casual nowadays, even though I know the kids are probably more comfy.

After only a month of living with us, Nipper (the dwarf hamster) has my girls very well trained. She has decided that she likes waking up every morning before they go to school so that she can have them feed her some almond slivers before she goes back to sleep for the morning. Considering that the shop owner called her kind “Evil Incarnate”, she is taming quite nicely. She is acrobatic enough to climb up the cage bars towards the door when you have it open to put in food or water, and this morning came right out onto my hand for a treat for the first time. When she ran out of almond, she sniffed my hand and started to give me a nip as if to say “More!” so she got one other sliver before we let her jump back into the cage. Of course now Erin is wanting to have Nipper in HER hands immediately, but I have been promoting the concept of patience in training pets. I figure they might remember someday that patience also applies to parenting!

This is our Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and I really enjoy the chance to have a big turkey dinner over TWO months away from Christmas. We’ll be heading down to Nick’s mother’s on Monday for a meal, but I may just cook a turkey of our own to get the bones for soup and all the leftover meat.

Because I leave for Toronto on Wednesday, this weekend will also be about final kit assembly, packing, making sure that I have everything I need for the show etc. Not quite a restful long weekend, but hopefully a good one nonetheless. Nick looked at me the other night and asked what my hourly wage would be if I took the income from the weekend and divided it out by the number of hours it has taken me to design, kit, assemble, teach etc. I’m almost afraid to do the math, because it would probably work out to well below minimum wage... and yet I love what I do!!

It’s been comical in the chaos of the past two weeks with computer woes, sick kids and husband, late nights and stressful days, how easy I have found it to complain. This morning as I write this, I am reminded of all the things in my life that I DO have to be thankful for, especially given the many places in our world where people’s lives lie in shambles... even just to the south in Florida.

I think I just need to go rake up a big pile of leaves somewhere this weekend and jump in them!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Friendships Beyond Price

In some ways, it was a really lousy weekend... and in other ways I feel like one of the richest people on earth.

Technology can be such a major pain when it doesn’t work well (and that is putting it in the politest language that I can use in public!). Nick arrived home early on Friday and offered to cook supper while I finished proofreading one of my charts for the classes I am teaching in Toronto. As I was changing a last section, the whole screen locked, froze and disappeared! When I restarted everything, the program continued to lock overtime I tried to click on the selection tool in that program and all of the changes I had made in the last 15 minutes of working and saving had disappeared. By this time, I was close to tears, but I turned everything off and went up for supper. Afterwards, I called a wonderful store that I deal with which carried Mac software and found out that they had a copy of Norton System Works, so off we went to buy that along with some much needed groceries. It was a bit grueling with two girls who were tired after the week at school and seem to be in “Who can tattle on the other first” mode, but we survived and I came home to install the program on my other machine to check. Unfortunately the machine with the problems uses an older operating system (on purpose) but the version of Norton that I used to have still worked and said it was fine.

I picked up the phone and called a wonderful friend, who knows and depends on Macs as much as I do to be creative, just to get an “awww”. I also knew that she would understand how I felt to stand in front of the new G5 Mac computers with a combination of awe, lust and frustration (I am pretty sure that I didn’t leave any drool on the store model’s keyboard) because those machines are just SO amazing. She was wonderfully sympathetic and laughed with me when I reminded her of the post on one pattern-sharing group this summer about designers being millionaires. “If I WAS a millionaire, I would have about 6 of those in the house... one just for decoration!! “ I moaned. It was just so great to be able to vent to someone who really understood! (Thanks!) With her encouragement, a bit of patience and switching mice between my two computers, I managed to get the file reproofed and rebuilt before 1 am.

Saturday morning we headed off to the gym by 8:15 and losing myself in swimming laps for 40 minutes helped to make up for the late night. The girls had their classes, Nick got his workout and I taught my class and then we headed home. After racing out to see a mid-afternoon movie with our girls and our godson, we came home to fix supper for another great friend who stays with us overnight once a month when she comes to town to provide her ex-husband’s parents with custody of her children in his absence. (Don’t get me started!) She brought some homemade salsa and a wonderful bottle of wine for our evening chat once the kids were in bed, but Nick’s sinus infection was making him feel pretty miserable, so he headed off to bed just as we were getting ready to start kitting up one class for Toronto! I went down to print off the labels to stick on the file cards that identify which floss is which... and the label paper kept jamming!! Instead of getting 8 labels I could use per sheet, I was lucky to get 4 or 5! Sue was so patient as she kept working on cutting out what labels I could get printed when I kept trying to hand feed each sheet through the printer. Finally, I decided to print them off on my main machine... only to discover that the internal Zip drive was not working at all!! I had no way of getting the files from one machine to the other since it was too big to fit on an old disk and the older machine can’t burn to CD!!
I finally stomped upstairs with enough labels to do most of the kits and then we just talked, snipped and kitted until midnight. Being able to laugh with someone and find joy in the face of challenges and tribulations is so healing! I also felt bad about being grumpy over something so small when she has faced such huge problems.

Sunday after church I bent my “no shopping on Sundays” rule to get an external USB Zip drive for my main machine. The $130.00 was worth it in the long run because I just can’t send the machine away to be fixed before the show and it did let me get the label file onto my main machine. Everything seemed fine until I went to print out the second class’s labels. There were inconsistent gaps in each label sheet when a different label at random (or 5 of the 8) would just not appear on the printout!! I finally figured out that it must be a memory problem, so I would just print one sheet at a time, let the machine freak out... restart it.... print one more sheet, let the machine freak out... restart it... It was starting to feel more like a Windows machine by the time I got the last one printed.

This morning I have run all my programs and tidied the drive up (which was really fragmented) so hopefully this will be it for computer woes between now and Toronto. If not, I may show up with little dent marks on my forehead from where I’ve been banging it against the monitor!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Planning Ahead... It’s Kind Of Like Swimsuit Magazines!

The funny thing about deadlines in many industries is that they are SO FAR AHEAD that I often get muddled. In talking with Karen Weaver today, I suddenly realized that TONIGHT was the deadline for class proposals if I want to teach anything to shop owners in Nashville! YIKES!! It is so hard to think ahead to February when I am trying to proofread sheets and instructions for Toronto! Now I know how those models in swimsuit magazines feel when they are trying to look warm and sunny on freezing cold beaches in the middle of winter! How do fashion designers ever get inspired when they are creating styles so far ahead of time?? Do they make themselves little notes while experiencing the warmth of summer or chill of winter to bring back those feelings, sensations and ideas half a year later??

I did manage to dig out my notes and get the forms filled out... but after a whole day of working on an intense graphic layout , a night of being the only parent while Nick did the “Meet the Creature” night in Petitcodiac and trying to get Erin to help me with groceries in the hour that Bethany was at Sparks, I don’t really trust myself to get the files and codes for the Earth Dragon proofread tonight. I think I will do that first thing in the morning after my swimming lesson and see how many e-mails pile up reminding me that October 1st started at midnight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Just Not Enough Hours In The Day!!

Where have the last 6 days gone???

Just as I am getting set to kit everything up for the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival in 2 weeks, a major client of mine drops an assignment in my lap!! If they weren’t such a well paying client, or if shops respected Net 30 terms a bit more, then maybe I would say NO... but now it just means sandwiching things in where I don’t feel I have time!

Erin’s homework is taking much longer this year and she gets frustrated sometimes. Teaching her how to stay on task and get things out of the way first, then play, occasionally produces some major battles and extreme urges on my part to call my own mother to apologize, but it is an essential part of learning time-management skills that will last her a whole lifetime. Bethany is also learning patience. She wasn’t around last year when I helped Erin with homework because she was still at daycare. This year, she is a bit more jealous that Erin’s work takes more of my time than the hour of “Mommy Time” she gets, but I keep explaining that it will balance out in the end.

I did manage to talk a wonderful shop owner who wanted copies of ALL of our painted canvases to just take the two that I already had painted up and photos of the rest because there physically isn’t time to meet her deadline with Toronto and this graphics project filling the next 2 weeks! At least I have finally learned not to burn the WHOLE candle... just singe both ends a little!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Of Squeaky Voices... Burnt Toast... and Fire Alarms

Well, I found out last night that it is not just a missing voice anymore. I have a sinus infection, ear infection and upper airway rattle, so they pulled out the antibiotics to clear it up and I am sure that I will feel much better when they kick in. It was really hard to drag my dragon butt out of the toast cave of the bedcovers this morning and I am still fighting the urge not to crawl right back in there...

I did have to share one funny episode before I forget to get it on paper. Monday was so awkward trying not to use my voice. Every time the phone rang, I had people doing a double take because they were sure they had the wrong number. I even let the answering machine pick up a few calls because I could barely make a squeak and the doctor had stressed NOT using the voice unless it was an emergency.

That came as I was trying to prepare garlic toast to go along with the past dish I had prepared for supper. I got the last of the bread ready and stuck it under the broiler, when the girls yelled that Nipper (our Dwarf Hamster of 2 weeks) was doing something cute, so I rushed downstairs to see. You have to understand that I have been wanting a little cute rodent of my very own for quite a long time now and she was being particularly adorable.... so I forgot all about the garlic toast until our alarm system went off!!

Here I was with both girls freaking out as this piercing whistle sounds and the panel starts yelling “SMOKE DETECTED.... FIRE....EXIT NOW” in a machine voice around the shrill beeping whistle. My girls, instead of helping open doors and follow typical fire safety patterns are both crouching over Nipper’s cage trying to soothe a now totally startled and freaking out hamster.

I bolt upstairs to open back door and side door, hoping that what little smoke there actually is will clear and that the thing will stop its noise, when I notice that our phone is automatically dialing out to the alarm company like it should. The only other time it did this, they rolled the engines from the fire hall near us and the firemen looked quite grumpy that it was overflowing Lipton’s chicken noodle soup and not a big blaze to fight.

I lunged over to the counter to grab my cell phone to call the alarm company, since the main line is tied up with the system dialing out, and get through to some operator who is trying to make out what I am saying over the din of the alarm.

At this point, what little voice I had cut out and I began to squeak and sound very much like a teenage buy at the worst of their voice change. I am trying to explain that there isn’t a fire... but just some burnt toast, but the operator is having trouble understanding me and keeps trying to reassure me that help will be on the way. Did my voice sound as if I was being overcome with smoke? I decide to force the voice a bit and manage to say “THERE’S NO FIRE!” just as the other phone rings and Nick walks through the open door. Luckily, his voice was fine and he told both operators that everything was under control.

The firemen never did show up that night, the hamster got over her trauma, Nick made new toast and I didn’t have to answer any questions about how my day went!

Monday, September 20, 2004

A Dragon With No Voice!

Well, after speaking with two classes of High School students about what it is like to have a career as a Graphic Designer/Illustrator, I seem to have misplaced my voice! The two girls had been battling colds last week, but the oddest thing is that I feel fine... I just can’t speak above a low growl!!

Luckily, Nick has kept the silent wife jokes to a minimum! I have warned the girls that if I hear them fighting upstairs that I may clang pot lids instead of bellow, but for the next 3 days the dragon is on “voice rest” instructions from her doctor and musn’t talk if at all possible.

In other careers (or closer to teaching in Toronto) this might have been a disaster, but I have just been sitting quietly this morning listening to musicals (Cats & Phantom) as I tidy the last box of paperwork bits, receipts that need to get in their proper files and general clutter in the office. How nice it feels to be tidy and organized again!!! I know that each time I vow I will keep it like this... and hope springs eternal that this time might be different.

I don’t need my voice today. My hands are working enough to stitch on a model. I will have to speak a bit with Bethany since she can’t read my notes yet... but the dragon can still type her blog!!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Saying “I Love You” Instead of “See You Soon”!

It was another rough morning for Bethany at the bus stop. She absolutely loves school, but saying goodbye to Mommy each morning is proving to be difficult. Last year, Nick would just put her in the car and drive her to daycare. This year, he is out the door while we are still eating breakfast and Bethany first starts dragging her heels when the time comes to put on her shoes! She gets quiet on the walk up and starts to clutch my hand tighter as I babble away in my best “Cheerful Mommy Voice” about all the fun things that might happen at school today. It is when everyone lines up for the bus and we have those 5 to 10 minutes of waiting (the bus has yet to arrive at the same time twice yet) that things really get hard. I can tell that she gets a big lump in her throat because you can almost hear her swallow. The tears spill out quietly over those freckled cheeks of hers as she just stands there wanting desperately not to have to say goodbye.

Part of me wanted to just say “I’ll be seeing you SO soon!” and yet, lately, I have found myself avoiding that phrase and saying “I LOVE YOU” or “It will be OK” instead. Those really are the only two things that I can promise.

We cannot predict how the world may change from day to day. September 11th taught us that, the recent terror and tragedy in Russia reminded us of that yet again. Getting an e-mail from Hoffman Distributing last night about their closure due to Hurricane Ivan heading directly for them made me aware that we cannot control Mother Nature or the actions of others. And yet, we cannot walk into each day with fear... because that really isn’t living life to its fullest... it isn’t really LIVING at all.

What I CAN teach my children is to say “I LOVE YOU” to those you hold dear as often as you can, and to live that out. To KNOW that you are loved is one of the greatest gifts there is. I will love them no matter what. Bethany and I say “I love you up to Infinity and Beyond” every night and that is so true...

BRING! BRING! (Sound of phone ringing!)

Moms must have ESP... because just as I was typing this, MY mom called to see how I was doing! We had a wonderful chat... and she told me to go ahead and say the “I’ll see you soon”s in my life. As she pointed out, if something were to happen, it wouldn’t be breaking a promise to my kids, which is why I think I have always hated saying that.

Hmmmmm! Perhaps you are never too grown up to have your Mom point out that you might still have some Monsters hiding in your own closet!


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Now I Need To Get MYSELF Into A Routine!

I had forgotten just how hectic this time of year could be. Monday everyone headed off to school scratching a few more mosquito bites than they’d had before a wonderful weekend at Camp Ta-Wa-Si. Monday night was registration for Girl Guides, so Erin signed up for her first year of Girl Guides with the same troop that the rest of her Brownie Pack flew up to on one side of town... and Bethany signed up for Sparks at our own church on the other side of town. Erin was a wee bit jealous because she’d never been a Spark, but I reminded her of the Highland Dance lessons and other things that she had tried when she was Bethany’s age.

I also decided to pull apart my entire office since I coped most of the summer by making little piles around the room of things that I needed to get to but was having trouble doing with everyone underfoot. I hauled everything out into the family room except the furniture itself, clearing off every surface, shelf etc. Not only did I find a few giant dust bunnies and lost change, I also managed to fill two bags of paper garbage before the garbage pick up that night. I made sure that if stuff came back into the office, it went in the right place. Nick is teasing me because there is still a pile of 2 boxes to deal with out there, but I am almost done sorting. It feels wonderful to have a desk surface again and to be able to see what a nice shade of blue carpet I actually have!

Tuesday was meetings and I missed a box from Purolator. I hope it is some of the stuff I am missing to put my kits together for Toronto! I called to have it redelivered on Thursday. Bethany and Erin both needed help with school stuff when they got home, so I felt as if the day just flew by!

Today was hot and sunny, but I had the van today and had 3 appointments to try to squeeze in between the girls getting on the bus and Bethany getting home. For some reason, she did not want to say goodbye this morning and was all tearful and blotchy-faced getting on the bus, but Erin later told me that she was fine by the time they arrived at school. Both of them came home feeling very tired and flat, complaining of sore throats and stuffy noses. Sounds like the back-to-school germ fiesta has begun!!

I have more paperwork to get taken care of tonight, just in case either of them is running a fever by morning, so I will end here for the night, but I really sense that I need to get MYSELF back into a routine. I am learning to get more done in the shorter day than when Bethany was at daycare, how to cook meals while calling out spelling words and then how to gear up to do a bit more once they go down. I am sure that it will all fall into place in a week or so.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me...

The remnants of Hurricane Frances dumped plenty of rain on us again this morning, though not as bad as Gaston. Both girls got on the school bus this morning which was a birthday present in itself!! Both of them pounced on me early this morning to sing and cuddle, then Erin presented me with a lovely drawing that showed me being waited on hand and foot by my family! She also gave me $2.00 from her savings to “buy something fun up at the corner store” which I did right after the bus. I also got plenty of cardio in this morning because Bethany insisted on wearing new shoes that hadn’t been fully broken in yet and by the time we reached the bus stop she was almost in tears at them being so “rubbing on her little feet”. I raced home to pick up the comfy dress shoes and ran back up to the bus stop in time to change the shoes on her feet before she boarded the bus and bring the uncomfy ones home. We try to break the new shoes in by wearing them to church for a month of Sundays where it is only an hour or two instead of a whole day in new shoes... so I reminded her that they would be fine in a month or so once the other ones got tight.

I goofed off today and it felt great!! I did get a shipment ready for Purolator to Hoffman and another parcel for a model stitcher. I decided to pay the higher fees for courier and brokerage on this Hoffman shipment since the last box of these new designs is still missing somewhere and being searched for.

Tonight we are heading out for sushi and then off to Camp Ta-Wa-Si for the weekend. The girls are looking forward to bunk beds and beach glass and I am looking forward to counting stars and having someone else do the cooking! What a nice way to celebrate my 39th!!

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Those who know me will understand that I am doing back flips along with my girls to announce that we have a new pet in the Dragon Dreams household! It is a tiny dwarf hamster named Nipper!! It is SO silly to be this excited over something so small and furry... but, next to dragons, I have always loved small mouse like creatures with a passion. Mousie was my nickname growing up and I have quite the collection of small mouse figurines. I owned gerbils at two different points in my life and adored them until twice someone gave us cats!

You have to understand that very few of my adult friends, and most especially my dear husband, do NOT feel the same way about small things that scurry. We have also put off having a pet since the disastrous rainbow guppy Aqua Babies incident a few years ago with Erin that involved far too many fish headstones in our backyard and over 80 dollars to try and get a fish ecosystem that would keep something alive. Knowing that we like to travel also made it easy to tell the girls that a pet was impossible for the time being.

Then, Erin was asked to help look after the neighbour’s cat between our own holidays this summer. That started the longing for something of her own to take care of. We stood firm and marched off on our own second adventure for the summer. But then we went to Prince Edward Island again on Friday to visit other friends of ours. They live in rural PEI and not only had two bunnies, but two tiny barn kittens!! Erin and Bethany both bear the marks of playing with tiny, clawed kitty tornadoes. That day we also went to the petting zoo right near their house where they were selling off miniature Rex bunnies and beagle puppies. We got to pick up cats, puppies and bunnies galore, including one tiny grey rabbit that kept snuggling into me and trying to nibble my green sweater.

Perhaps, in a warped way, it has something to do with the fact that my “baby” is heading off to school this year... but I could feel my defenses beginning to crumble, especially as Erin and Bethany kept doing the Puss In Boots eyes while holding small, cute furry things!

We drove home late on Friday night and when both girls conked out in the car, Nick and I had a chance to discuss our approach to pet ownership again without the girls overhearing us. He’d managed to convince me that the 10 dollar bunny would turn into a much more expensive proposition than I had planned, but Saturday morning when we needed to do groceries, he was the one who suggested we have a peek at the pet store nearby.

In we went and peeked at all the animals that had just arrived including adorable $500 siamese kittens, bunny cages that cost $149 and then as we rounded the corner to the rodents, there was one of the Dwarf Hamsters doing a little scratchy dance against the glass! My girls were lost in fits of “ohhh how cute!!!” and this time Nick just said “You have to have a plan in place before we buy any pet!” It became a math lesson as we walked around the store to figure out with Erin and Bethany that the eight dollar hamster would end up costing over 100 dollars in accessories!

We went on to do our groceries and “think about it” as the girls began to put a plan in place for where the cage might go and how we could take care of the little dancing critter. By the time we got home, we had agreed to tidy the whole basement up to see if there would be room in the family room for a cage. I have never seen my girls so eager to TIDY! We also called the pet store back to ask more questions about owning a Dwarf Hamster. The shop owner did refer to them as “evil incarnate” but the three of us were determined to tame one eventually or just sit back and enjoy watching it from a safe distance.

After lunch, we went out and bought everything we needed to make Nipper feel welcome at our house.... well... almost everything. I broke down and went back to the pet store this afternoon for a little balcony, a smaller wheel since she didn’t have enough body weight to make the one we’d bought move... and some hamster treats. I am hooked!!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

When The Going Gets Tough... Yank Some Weeds!!!

Another chaotic day in the countdown before school starts. Nick was able to get a drive down to Petitcodiac so that we could have the van for a doctor’s appointment for Erin. I covered for 2 other Weight Watcher leaders yesterday, so I needed to catch up on e-mail this morning... and the girls just kept getting on each other’s (and my) nerves. I spent some time on the phone with Nashville organizers planning the layout for next year’s Fantasy Faire and I am sure they heard the girls bickering in the background. How professional!!

Finally, I took them out to wear off some steam before the doctors and then we picked up some groceries on the way home. Tomorrow we head to Prince Edward Island to see another set of really good friends and spend the day at the beach. The weather has turned cooler, but it should at least be sunny.

By the time Nick arrived home tonight, I was feeling frustrated, frazzled and just generally grumpy... Like a dragon who just can’t reach an itch in the middle of her back, despite rolling around on all that lumpy, bumpy treasure. Nick offered to do the dishes and I headed outside to plant two presents from our neighbour who was splitting her perennials. I got really into yanking out a whole section of one plant that had taken over the back garden. Out with the yellow and in with the pink! Yanking all that out was truly satisfying.....

Monday, August 30, 2004

rekindling Friendships and Cleaning Closest

This weekend was a lot of Fun! My godson had his 5th birthday party on Saturday, so we headed over there for a Harry Potter party. Ben’s Mom, Karen, had a full slate of Hogwarts activities for them from Quidditch to Potions class and gave them all report cards for their “term”. All of the kids eyes grew round when they poured their green goblets of vinegar into the cauldron of baking soda and everything got fizzy. They they had to add from bowls of catsup, oats and flour to thicken out the mixture. Erin had great fun making a big pot of goop!!! Some of the younger kids were a bit more hesitant.

Sunday afternoon we headed over to PEI to reconnect with some good friends of ours from University who also have kids. Both families have been making excuses with busy schedules for far too long now. Tracey and I actually had some business to discuss, so I put her logo on CD rather than send it by e-mail and took it over as my excuse. It was great fun and the Confederation Bridge makes it so easy to get back and forth. There was the 39.00 bridge fee of course, but we did fill up on cheaper PEI gas!!

Today was much harder. Nick started work officially (though he’s been back at the new job for over a week now) and so he headed off early. I have already tackled Erin’s closet but now it was Bethany’s turn.... and my little pack rat had stuffed all kinds of clothes and toys in hers!! Trying everything on, including a big pile of hand-me-downs took over 2 hours. 5 year olds just don’t really have the patience for that so we had several bouts of tears and Erin saved the day more than once by being the “fashion critic”. The nice thing is, we discovered a whole bunch of clothes that she is about to fit or can just now get into!! Even though she has grown much faster than Erin this summer, there is a wealth of stuff to fit into that is pretty nearly new. I will round it out with some new turtlenecks and t-shirts, along with the exciting socks and underwear, but it won’t be as drastic a shop-up as Erin was. I tuck away a bit each month towards clothing, but as I shopped around for bargains last week for Erin (who is hovering between a size 16 and a ladies small just to get the sleeves long enough) I kept thinking of that thread on one of the pattern groups about designers all being millionaires! LOL!! We have a wonderful second hand store here in town that many of us with fast growing kids rely on to keep the clothing budgets from being unbearable!

After the Great Closet Tidy came the Great Muffin Bake. Nick is bringing muffins for the staff at his school for a speacial breakfast event, so the girls helped me bake 24 double chocolate muffins, 30 carrot muffins and 32 oatmeal and raisin muffins to go with the 28 blueberry muffins Nick made on Saturday. Having the oven on all afternoon i the warm temperatures was a bit much, but we endured.

Tonight is batching up charts again. I have a baby-sitter coming in tomorrow and Wednesday for two meetings, but I am still looking very much forward to having everyone off to school by next Thursday... I can’t even find the floor in my office again! Surely there are LOTS of other parents out there who are counting the hours????

Friday, August 27, 2004

I’ve Run Out of Tricks! Send Them Back To School!!

As much as I love my 2 children, I am ready to box them and ship them to China!!! This past week, with Nick back to work and thus no van to run errands with, has been a real test of my patience as a Mom.

They have played well together for the occasional small stretch and Erin even invented her own comic book this week about a tiny vampire chipmunk that runs around trying to nibble people’s ankles because he’s lonely (rather than evil) but when I cam up from checking e-mail this morning to find that they had strung a “tightrope” for their Barbies to slide along that was halfway to pulling a desk drawer handle out of the desk!! Luckily a friend of Erin’s had won a pass to the local water park and offered to take her along this afternoon, so that just left me with Bethany. She and I walked up to the park behind the post office then mailed some letters that needed to go off and paid the power bill on the walk home. It was only about 15 minutes each way, but by the home stretch her legs were “going to fall off if she didn’t get something good to eat”! Hah!

My latest order of plastic bags to hold my chartpacks also arrived this morning, but they are different from the ones I usually get with more plastic above the hang hole. That will just get in the way on most shipments, so I called them to ask if they’d changed suppliers. Apparently no one there bothered to look at my order before they sent them out and their first comment to me was “Yes, those look very different, don’t they. We’re not sure what’s up either!!” What a way to instill confidence!! I’m going to keep 1000 to handle the orders I have to ship out and kits for Toronto in October, but then send the other 2000 back and have them send me my regular bags. Sigh! A quick check on their part before sending things on to me could have saved us all a lot of trouble!

Well, the girls are finally down so I am off to watch Hidalgo with my husband for date night upstairs... and maybe by the morning the urge to mail my offspring will have calmed down. They do look very cute once they are asleep.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Missing Designs....

The Postal System has eaten another parcel!! While on vacation, I did receive a few e-mails from stores that were trying to reorder our newest designs that we released in Columbus from Hoffman. Before we left to visit my Mom at the end of June, I mailed out the copies of the new designs to Hoffman, so I was baffled as to why they wouldn’t have them yet. As it turns out, that parcel never arrived!! Hoffman never e-mailed me in follow-up once I had sent my price information in, but I probably should have remembered to check all the parcel slips like I usually do to make sure that the trackable stuff arrived!!

After almost half an hour on the phone with the post office, they are almost as baffled as I am as to where the parcel could have gone, but they have opened an inquiry. The parcel was insured, so that means that I will get some of my money back, but now I need to sit down and make up a replacement order and get that off as soon as possible. I picked up the charts from the copy center this afternoon and a new shipment of bags is on its way from Toronto because another order just used up all but 100.

There are times when I wish that I lived close enough to the US border to drive my orders across and ship them from within the USA... but 3 hours each way makes that a bit pricey!!

The girls are getting very restless and I will be quite glad when they head back to school. As much as I love my family, I have also missed having the quiet time to get my work done that now only comes if I stay up after everyone has gone to bed!!

Friday, August 20, 2004


What a busy day!! I now know how fighters must have felt after sword practice... Our family had Vacation Bible School this morning for the last time as the session ended. I had a great time helping out with Arts & Crafts... but it did make getting the order off to the UK a bit more hectic that I would have liked!

Yesterday afternoon a very nice man in a dump truck delivered our 3 yards of topsoil to bring up the area in the backyard that had settled over the past few years and created a lake that kept trying to flow into my basement office window. Nick and Fred dug a proper window well when they replaced the deck, but since we changed where the steps down from the new deck come, we wanted to build up that sunken area as well to prevent any surprises next spring.

When we ordered the topsoil, the forecast for the weekend had been clear and sunny, so we’d planned to do a bit each day and get the project done by Monday. By lunch time today, the forecast had changed drastically and they were calling for heavy rain all weekend. I had visions of the nice topsoil being washed down the driveway before we could get it spread... so Nick and I donned our sunscreen and headed out into the backyard for a four hours mud moving marathon! Erin was just super about answering the phone (wasn’t she Barb?) and bringing us cold water to drink. I now know why they call it SWEAT equity!! At one point during this Topsoil Turmoil, Nick reminded me that we can NEVER sell the house now because we have too much blood and sweat invested in this property...

I am now a bit more scratched (from moving garbage bags of trimmed shrubbery down to the curb) and blistered (shovel calluses) that I’d expected, but almost all of the mud has been spread. The remainder is hiding under a tarp that one of our wonderful neighbours lent to us so that we can see if there are any spots that settle further with the heavy rain tomorrow. After 3 late nights this week, I am going to head off to bed before the Cinderella hour and enjoy!!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Back Home and Blogging Late Nights or Early Mornings Again!

Well, after a wonderful two weeks of holidays and a few days of chaos after we got back home, I am finally back in front of my computer screen to blog again. Funny that it seems to be after midnight again! Thanks to a special charter flight that was happening between Moncton and Paris this summer for the 400th celebration of the founding of the Acadian settlements here in Canada (the ones who became known as Cajuns when they were later deported to the USA), we were able to get over to France to spend 3 crazy days in Paris before joining my brother and niece at their home in Provence, far to the south of France.

As usual, life and business have collided again. Nick and I volunteered months ago to help out mornings this week with the Vacation Bible School at church. This morning we did a Noah’s Ark Relay where you run down a field as different animals (I am sure that many of you would have laughed to see me demonstrating how the elephants, crabs, kangaroos and monkeys should move!) but then we rushed home so that Nick could head down to work at his new school in Petitcodiac for some afternoon meetings and I could finish batching an order from the UK that came in while I was away and needs to ship out tomorrow. There were two new girls working at the copy center of Staples who mangled one of the batches and I had to ask them to redo the job. The afternoon was spent printing out some of the covers for the chartpacks and assembling those I didn’t do between 11 pm and 2 am last night (this morning?) Nothing like hitting the ground running after a vacation!

Our vacation really did recharge my batteries on the deepest creative level though, so I don’t really mind the chaos before the girls head back to school. The colours, textures and light levels of Provence are still mulling around in my heart and head. The smells of olive oil and lavender linger in my drawers and on my counter top from souvenirs I brought home. The photos I took of crumbled castles and weathered stones just begging to have dragons drawn for them are all safely tucked in an album for me to leaf through whenever I get the urge to escape.

It was a wonderful vacation... but it is also good to be home!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why We Go On Journeys......

My kids can barely contain their excitement. Nick is grinning and so am I. There is something so magical about setting out on a new adventure into the unknown. Dragon Dreams will be closed from July 29th until August 15th. I tried to find someone here to train to cover things, but explaining everything and finding someone I trust to allow into my home and into the business was just a bit too tricky. That is one of the major drawbacks of being your own boss and being the company in general. If you want to get away, it has to come to a halt. Luckily, stitchers can still get stuff through my distributors and shops that already have product.... but it is a bit of a worry.

Getting ready for an adventure made me think about why we go on journeys in the first place. Sometimes, the journeys take us across miles or oceans, and sometimes they are just emotional or intuitive leaps, but the process of breaking out of the pattern you’ve gotten into is the same. Journeys give us the chance to see and explore new things... get a broader picture... think outside the box.... and they capture some of the wonder and excitement that we too willingly seem to set aside as adults. I really learn a lot from my children in that department.

I am also really looking forward to getting away for just over 2 weeks. That’s something that I haven’t done in 9 years, since I went freelance. Every other time I went away, I found ways of checking in by e-mail, phone , fax etc. to make sure that I didn’t miss anything important. The only thing I really learned those times was that I didn’t really let myself get away completely. Letting go of control is scary, but it can also be refreshing. This time I am determined to just get away and enjoy spending time with family. I am sure it will recharge my batteries deep down inside!!

Here’s to adventure!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Surfacing At Last...

It’s not quite 1 am here... and since this is an EARLY night for me compared to some of the nights this past week, I thought I would blog before bed. The highlight of today was singing “Seek Ye First” with Nick, Erin and Bethany as a family anthem in church. I’ve loved singing in parts ever since Dad first taught me Tenor harmony on car trips. Erin sang a solo verse and then they held the melody line for my alto and soprano decant variations. Bethany had decided that next time SHE wants a verse of her own, so I guess my worries about her getting stage fright were all for naught! This was a nice smile after all the chaos since last Sunday. It’s been a grueling week for both Nick and I physically, but also one of great achievements. Never give two Type A personalities challenges to overcome... it puts us into overdrive!!!

We knew that if we wanted to have a new deck to replace the one that was rotting, that Nick would be doing it himself under the guidance, supervision and expert craftsmanship of our next-door neighbour, Fred.... but the reality of building a deck in 2 days of cloud and drizzle followed by one of scorching heat, coupled with a new cordless drill that turned out to be defective and a wife with her own production issues turned out to make the first 3 days of this past week a bit more stressful than we’d anticipated!! Thanks to Nick’s incredible efforts and Fred’s help, we now have a wonderful two level deck that has had everyone peeking over fences to oooh and ahhh. We even coaxed two other Canadian cross stitch designers, Lee Fraser of Stitchable Expressions here in town and the visiting Joanne Gatenby of X’s & Oh’s (along with her husband Bill) over for some dessert on the new deck. It was a great time for fellowship and giggles at the thought of us three “millionaires” (‘cause all designers are just ROLLING in cash according to those who share our charts illegally!) enjoying the chance to talk shop and vent together. I needed that night off from what has been going on.

I’ve been painting furiously for almost 2 weeks now and am just putting the finishing touches on the last two canvases so that all of those can ship out tomorrow night. Painting with a deadline has been hard... but having canvas arrive 2 weeks later than I’d been promised, after already arranging a second, smaller shipment to Mum’s while I was up there on vacation, certainly made things MUCH harder. I was at the point where I was about to buy the canvas RETAIL from our local store when the “missing” canvas finally showed up. I’m still trying to get to the bottom of why the date on the mailing label is 13 days later than I’d been assured that it was mailed.... It irks me to know that I will have to ship two of my parcels by courier instead of regular post to meet special deadlines because of someone else.

I honestly don’t think I would push myself to such limits for anyone else. One of the reasons that I haven’t blogged much is that by the time I pry my paintbrushes out of my hands around 2 am, I’m not really in the mood to type or click a mouse. I certainly don’t have a staff of little helpers or hirelings to work through the night like Debbie Travis does!! Some of the canvases didn’t have to go out right away, but it was easier to paint them at the same time and ship them early. On Thursday, I am shutting down Dragon Dreams for a holiday with my family and won’t be near a computer, paintbrush or e-mail for 2 weeks. I’m not sure I will be able to blog either... so don’t worry if the Musings are pretty silent from the 29th to the 13th!

Yawn! That’s about all this dragon can handle for tonight. I just wanted to let everyone know I was still breathing!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

It’s Amazing What You Can Fit Into A Day!!

It’s almost midnight and time for me to crawl up to bed. As I write this blog, I am struck again by the repeating thought that I would never work this hard for anyone else’s dream.

Today began early. After vacation time up at Mom’s, I almost resent waking up to an alarm now, but at least it was 7:30 instead of 6:15. We got up and started breakfast, but our neighbour, Fred, showed up earlier than expected, so Nick bolted down his food to head outside and begin the Great Deck Demolition. We coaxed the deck through one more winter because we just couldn’t afford to build a new one last summer. This year, the boards are rotting and the steps have collapsed, but Fred has offered to oversee the project with Nick doing all the labour, so we are squeezing it in now before we head off again.

I got the girls dressed and tried to tackle the day’s e-mail before I headed off to fill in for another Weight Watcher leader from 11:00 to 1:30 pm. Once you’ve covered the material in your own meeting, it is easy to share the same information with other groups and fun to see new faces. This meeting was a lunchtime one, so I had to make sure I kept things brief. It went well and , as it turned out, my Regional Manager was there observing/critiquing me, so I am glad it went well.

I headed home afterwards only to discover that work had progressed much faster than expected!! The deck was gone and Nick now needed to rent a pickup truck for the day to haul the old deck lumber to the dump and pick up the gravel needed to put a proper window well in for the window under the deck. Since this window leads directly into my office with all my computer equipment and the soil under the deck had settled, we’d had to sandbag the window a few years ago to keep all the water from collecting outside and trying to come in! No one had eaten lunch yet, though Erin had made up a peanut butter sandwich for Bethany and used a heart shaped cookie-cutter to put a shape into the middle of it, so we piled into the van, drove Nick down to the car rental company and then picked up lunch on the drive home.

I tried to get a bit more work done after the girls were fed, but after squabbles erupted for the 5th time, I put the computer on sleep mode and went upstairs. I am playing the Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time on our Game Cube and the girls had been pestering me to get to the Temple of Time so that they could see our character grow up. LIke I really needed to be coaxed into playing for a bit!! It was fun, but now that everything is suddenly changed, I am all lost again in the game!

Fred and Nick made their trips to the dump, got the window well installed and started spreading out the rest of the gravel over some landscape fabric before the huge rainstorm hits tonight or tomorrow. He fired up the barbecue and did double duty while I made salad and the rest of the meal. They raced to get the job done while the girls helped me with the dishes and then I managed to coax them into “playing nicely with each other” (which 15 minutes later turned into each of them drawing in their rooms) while I finished graphing something out on the computer and working on a layout for a client. I checked e-mail quickly before putting the girls to bed only to find out about a Hoffman order and another copyright infringement on a Brazilian site... so it was off to the translation site to help turn a “Please don’t do this” message into Portuguese!

As I headed up the stairs to tuck the girls in, one of the other Weight Watcher leaders called to see if I could do the early Friday morning meeting so that she could get her boys up to camp. Once you have done a subject twice, doing it a third time isn’t that much harder... and I get bonus pay when I do more than 2 meetings in the same week. It did make me chuckle when I thought of the pattern sharers who think I am a multimillionaire....

Erin was thrilled to get to stay up to watch Canadian Idol tonight. Nick found it hard not to fall asleep on the couch. I had the whole dining room table taken up with paint and canvas again, which Erin had to check out each commercial break, but it lets me work on a whole set of a design at once. They went off to bed once the show was over, then I turned off the TV and painted until that whole colour was done on each design.

I fired up the computer about an hour and a half ago to finish up the 4 banners I needed to make for the Vacation Bible School at our church in August. The person in charge wanted to get everything set up before she heads off for her vacation because we will be away when she gets back.

As I finished that job off, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t really blogged since getting home, so this became my late night ramble. Do I still think I am lucky to do what I love for a job? Of course!! Would I work this hard for someone else’s dream? Never!! I'm glad each day only has 24 hours, though.... I don't think I could have fit anything more into today... or should I say yesterday??

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Back In My Cave... And Surrounded By Laundry!

We made it home safely today from Mom’s and now I just have to sort through two huge piles... one of mail and the other of laundry! No sign of my original order of canvas from Zweigart. The replacement order sent to Mom’s arrived just 4 days before we left, so I have been cutting and tracing and painting like mad! I’ll unpack my paints first thing tomorrow while the girls are getting to know their toys all over again so that most of the canvas orders can go out this week.

It feels good to be home in my own house... but back to work I go!!

Friday, July 09, 2004

Celebrating 15 Years... and Mourning Theft...

I came back to Mom’s today after 2 marvelous days away with my husband, taking a small break from being a designer and small home based business person to discover that the Legends of the Dragons pattern had been posted to a Yahoo group illegally. What saddened me the most was the horrible backlash against those who spoke out to post about this type of illegal activity.

The scanning and sharing of patterns illegally over the past two years has been one of the most controversial and damaging things that this industry has faced. Too many pattern sharers promote the idea that designers are multimillionaires that are
too busy or too wealthy to care that their patterns are being "enjoyed" by others harmlessly in yahoo groups.

Legends of the Dragons was the first collaboration that Teresa Wentzler, Karen Weaver and I created to try to add some excitement to the industry and to work together since we all admired each other's work. Over 400 collective hours went into the design, production, stitching, framing, proofreading and creation of that piece between the 3 of us. We paid for the entire press run of that pattern up front, with our own money. Unfortunately, that pattern has been especially sought after among illegal groups, including those who use Russian or chinese sites to trade patterns. When fans ask us if we will do another collaboration, we smile and say not yet... but all 3 of us have decided not to bother risking our work being stolen from us yet again.

There will always be a campaign to portray designers as wealthy enough to afford such theft by those who are sharing patterns illegally. This is no less a theft that someone who creates “fake” copies for sale at a flea market or on E-bay. There are no shades of grey to make one worse than the other.

I wish I could have spent less of my day defending what is rightfully mine.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Joy Multiplied...Plus A Chance To Sneak Away!

What fun to hug my sister again in person and to share in her and Yoshi’s happiness!! How amazing to watch my kids parade around in Yukatas (summer
weight kimonos) that came all the way from Tokyo!! What a joy to welcome Yoshi into our family again! We looked back at pictures of my Mom and John’s wedding 17 years ago when he was last here and marvelled at how little and how much we had all changed. Back then, despite their love, the distance between their cultures seemed too vast to bridge... now I listen to Laurie teaching my kids how to count to 10 in Japanese and smile, knowing that my family has just gotten bigger more diverse!

Tomorrow we all head into Montreal to see my grandfather and meet my cousin’s bride and daughter from the West Coast. My grandfather will have 3 of his 4 great granddaughters under one roof! My girls will understand the fun of having a second cousin even if she is only 1 and everyone will be able to wish Laurie and Yoshi congratulations in person!!

Best of all, for Nick and I, comes the chance to sneak off and be just a couple for 2 nights in Montreal as an early 15th wedding anniversary present! As much fun as it has been to do all the family games, crafts and fun things with our girls over the past week, it is also going to be nice to show Nick parts of the city where I grew up and discover how much things have changed!