Thursday, 14 May 2015

Studio Wednesdays

Every Wednesday I try to be here. I might be here other days of the week, and at least once of the weekend (although some weeks are a wash altogether), but Wednesdays are my promise to myself. It's only a couple of hours usually, but it's a quiet and creative balm, this time. Other days the kids are here with me sometimes or sometimes it's a while and then I hear the bells on the front door to the shop and then small feet who are definitely not browsing :) But Wednesdays are my own.

After a while settling in, signs of commitment have started springing up here. A shelf. A kettle and some tea. A cleaning out of the scrap bin. Projects completed. Old patterns re-discovered.

One day a lovely lady came looking for help setting a zipper in a knitting project after trying at other places in the city. I heard low polite conversation at the front of the store, then hesitant steps, then someone was at my door: "Are you Marnie?"

Yes I am. girl number twenty on the door, Marnie in her studio. The renovations in our basement are almost done, and I am still here. I've completed projects, messed up new ideas and finally gotten other ideas to work. I've sold a few things in the shop. I've met some very nice people and had some great conversations. I've also hidden here with snacks and Netflix. Ahem. I've taught (well, guided) a friend of Safiya's to sew (and she designed!) her very own skirt here. Someone suggested "workshops? Could you do workshops? I've always been scared of my sewing machine...."

Oh. That's an idea. What do you think?

Saturday, 9 May 2015

And Now (and Bikes and Optimism and Expectations)

Now. (I just couldn't leave those wintry pictures up too long :)

Yesterday I watched Safiya ride away with Mr. S. to his work for the day. It was her first big bike ride and she poked her head into our room at 6am, dressed and ready to go. She was so excited, and a little scared. This is the girl who only fell in love with bike riding two years ago (before that there was a lot of "I just don't like bike riding!") and is tall enough to require a "big bike". To go from riding around the block to riding 18k in one day is a big deal when you're ten years old.

Mr. S. said she handled it with aplomb: tired, but not a single complaint. Safiya had been asking for a longer bike ride and when Mr. S. suggested this one, she had latched on to the idea with enthusiasm. It had been her own goal, and she had done it. I tried not to embarrass her with too much high-fiving when they got home.

Two weekends ago I had the idea to do our first family bike ride, which included Zinadine on his training wheels.

even before the snow melted the kids had their scooters and bikes out, mittens and all

I remember being optimistic as we loaded up the bikes on our very optimistically purchased bike rack to make our optimistic way to a big park with a rec trail. It was one of the first gorgeous days went hilariously not that great. We made it maybe 250 metres until we had to turn around.

Zinadine's mantra was "I can't dooooooo it." This is the boy who last year scooted 53k on his scooter from Toronto to Hamilton with only excitement (that's another post), but 500 metres total on his bike was just. too. much. The birds chirped in the trees and his rejoinder was "I. don't. wanT. to." To his credit, the complaints were low and resentful rather than high and wailing and only occurred uphill :)

Presented with this challenge to my expectations, Mr. S. and I took turns going slow with him.....very slow.....and decided to enjoy the sound of the nearby creek and the birds and talk about what we were seeing in the park. The end result was that Zinadine said he liked biking and that he'd do it again and that we all needed freezies from the corner store.

Now, the point of the story isn't that Safiya is ten and Zinadine is five. The point is that Safiya was also once five and behaved very similarly. The point is also that apparently I need reminding that my expectations as far as skill aquisition have very little bearing on reality. We can try out different things and make gentle suggestions (and sometimes bribes), but what Mr. S. and I learn from the kids over and over is that true joy of accomplishment only comes from the inside.

So, sometimes it works and sometimes......sometimes you are reminded that everyone gets there at a different pace and sometimes a different method, to be determined by them.

And sometimes you need freezies.

Friday, 1 May 2015

We Fell in Love With Winter

Granted, it's an odd post title what with the cheery new banner and weather that has finally turned to the teens for good it seems, here in Toronto.

However, I wanted to remember this bitter winter precisely because it was the perfect storm of sustained cold and snow, enthusiastic kids, and trying new things.

Did you know they make tiny cross-country skiis?! Fell in love with that, too :)
This was the first winter in our little collective memory here that not a single one of us was ill. Not a sniffle, not a cold. And I write this not to tempt the fates, but to remember what a blessing it was. It was a minor miracle, what with the urban mingling we do here everyday, and it was a major factor in this glorious winter of 2014, because it eased the edges of our everyday and gave us even more time.

More time to bundle up and explore the outside and write our names in the snow on nearly frozen creeks.

More time to say, "Let's go that way!" and "I'll follow you!".

 Or to sit still and watch the birds by our window

and encourage a young obsession.

More time for shovelling. (Oh the snow shovelling! Good thing it turned out to be one of Zinadine's favourite things :)

Time to climb things, anything, (Zinadine) or to just lay still in the snow in the backyard on your own and watch the sky (Zinadine again). To watch the kids make up their own silly games. More time to take the train to visit cousins, to write letters, to learn new skills (Safiya fell in love with woodworking), and to play more games.

To say "no thanks" to some things and to learn that when we say "yes" we need to make time after for ourselves as well, even if it's a good "yes" like visiting extended family. To choose to make time for our little family, to create our own occasions that were special simply because we set aside the time for the four of us to explore the world together. It didn't have to be big adventures, just saying "yes" to the world and taking it at our own pace. Finding our own pace, really.

It was still a winter full of the everyday heartaches and joys of friends and family, some of them big, some of them small. And yet it seems that turning inward we were more able to face the outward, all of us together.

Just wanted to remember, is all.