Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Building Forts - On The Inside

Warning, this is a loo-oooong post!

Poppet has been obsessed with fort building lately. Every available blanket and cushion goes into the structure of these things.
Here's a shot of this morning's effort.

These fabric forts remind me of the inner forts Poppet has also been attempting to build. She's a sensitive girl, of the thinker/worrier-persuasion and has become increasingly saddened by the lack of empathy her peers display when they play together. Many of the girls in her age-group have a particularly selfish and dominant streak, whilst also being quite passive aggressive and manipulative. It doesn't help that there are only half a dozen girls in her grade, slim pickings indeed!

image via pinterest

The girls she prefers to hang with are in a different class, and no matter what we say or try all of the girls seem to simply follow their own classgroup outside for lunch. They are a bunch of lemmings. It just doesn't occur to them to seek out the others. And so this tricky group of kids has been the bane of our existence this year. To date, we've spent an enormous amount of time role playing, reading and discussing with our girl. She responds particularly well to the written word (I will list some helpful books at the end of this post) and to stories from our own childhood struggles. We've had conversations with our teacher, and principal (both of whom acknowledge this is a particularly challenging group of girls) and the social worker has been involved in trying to help this class to play more respectively.
There's been some improvement. I am of the opinion that the school could do more, but you can only push so hard. As with many schools, their anti-bullying 'policies' seem not to be worth the paper they're written on. This can leave the children to fend for themselves in a fairly tough and confusing environment. I don't expect the school to interfere with every little problem, but I think more guidance and listening would be immensely helpful. Work in progress...
At the end of the day, we can't control anyone else, and these children will no doubt continue to behave the same way. It's pretty safe to assume their parents aren't sitting at home writing blog posts, trawling the internet and inhaling bullying books at the rate I have been over the past year. They probably think their kids are just fine. In fact, I have known some parents over the years who have admitted they would prefer their children display bullying behaviour rather than be a 'victim' of bullying. Frankly, I find this attitude astounding.

image via amazon

Probably the most useful book I have read (not quite finished) is "Little Girls Can Be Mean" by Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert. You can also click here for more information regarding the book and the authors, both of whom are mothers of young girls. This book has reminded me to observe my girl's behaviour, to connect the dots between her displays of temper or anxiety to possible issues at school. Tips for girls and activities we can do together are dotted throughout the book and we will begin working on them very soon. I'll keep you posted.
Poppet has been extra clingy this week and rather cranky. Her bedroom is upstairs and there are times when she will refuse to go up there by herself, NEEDING my company. Of course, my initial reaction is to get frustrated, to tell her that at 8 years of age it is ridiculous that she is unable to go upstairs alone.
On the other hand, why not go up with her if it makes her feel better. She is only 8.

But what is really going on?

This morning she was easily frustrated and teary, and instead of rushing her along with our routine I took a moment to lie down with her on the bed. After a few minutes she told me that school has been very trying of late, that her friends always dominate their games and rarely let her choose what they will play. She feels powerless and unimportant. I just let her get it out, told her I could imagine how frustrating, confusing and upsetting it must make her feel. Once she had calmed down we discussed her options. She struggles with assertiveness and often considers it rude to stick up for herself so we role played a few conversations which might work. I reminded her too that the friends she makes in Elementary School are unlikely to be her forever friends. It can take many years to find your 'group' and at the moment she needs to focus on having fun, but expecting less empathy from some of her peers. There's a good chance they won't like it if she says 'no' and she will have to be ready for their reactions.

image via pinterest

Poor girl, in some ways it would be easier if she was being directly targeted. This constant squashing of her identity wears her down. I am reminded by the book to simply 'hang' with her more, to celebrate her small achievements and assist her in recognising her own strengths. I get very routine focused (control freak?) and generally forget to have fun. Poppet needs to be able to exert some control at home, to choose our activities and be in charge. My own agenda is usually my default position, so it's fair to assume she's feeling equally powerless at home. I will try to do better.
Setting boundaries is her next big challenge, and that is most definitely a work in progress. I can think of at least a dozen of my own friends who complain about their inability to say 'no', and I have been no exception. If at all possible I would like to spare Poppet a lifetime of anxiety and self-doubt over friendships gone awry. I am seeking to build her confidence, to help her find empowerment. I would hate her to wait until her 30s to finally find her way, like her mother. None of this surprises me, to be honest. Poppet is a great deal like me and at times I feel like I am re-living my own childhood. With teenage years a little ways down the track, I am hoping to head "them" off at the pass as much as is humanly possible.
This is some fort we are trying to build, and bits of it crumble from time to time. But we will persevere until it is done. Until the troops give up their assault and find weaker quarry.
We must succeed. It is as simple as that.

image via pinterest

The following books are all awesome in their own way. I will try to separate them out into fiction and non-fiction and some other groupings which might be helpful.

I will also mention here that we are extremely lucky to be living within close proximity of Another Story Bookshop. The staff of this bookshop know their books, and specialise in social justice and equity. The kids' book section is unbelievable. Possibly my credit card is helping keep them afloat (they have a great cookbook section too, oops). If you're in Toronto, it is worth a long visit.

-Who knew that the American Girl books would be so awesome, but they are. They speak directly to Poppet's age group and she loves them. We have...

"The Feelings Book Journal"
"Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends"
"A Smart Girl's Guide To Friendship Troubles"

-Great fiction books...

"My Secret Bully"
"Confessions of a Former Bully" both by Trudy Ludwig.
"Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon" by Patty Lovell
"Our Friendship Rules" by Peggy Moss and Dee Dee Tardiff
"Weird" by Erin Frankel
All of the "Scaredy Squirrel" books by Melanie Watt are great for assertiveness and confidence.

-Helpful workbooks...

"What To Do When Your Temper Flares"
"What To Do When You Worry Too Much" both by Dawn Huebner, Ph. D. Excellent for anxiety!

-Relaxation and mindfulness...

"Take The Time, Mindfulness for Kids" by Maud Roegiers
"Just Because I Am, A Child's Book of Affirmation" by Lauren Murphy Payne, M.S.W.
"The Important Book" by Margeret Wise Brown
"Butterflies In My Stomach & Other School Hazards" by Serge Bloch

-Also good are...

"Cyberbullying" by Lucia Raatma
"Bystander Power" by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick.

Quite a list! Feel free to share titles your kids love, or you've found helpful.
Good luck with your own daughters!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


We have had a lovely Spring day. The sun was shining (at last!) and we went to the park. I even rode my bike, in a particularly wobbly fashion but I'm determined to do better. There's a big hill in the park and I almost made it to the top.No doubt my quads will be screaming about that in the morning.
Poppet rode her scooter, and was rewarded with some time in the playground before we came home.
I've been busy editing photos (yawn) whilst listening to the landlord installing our shiny new dishwasher, and it just sang us a ditty to announce that the dishes were clean. It's been worth living without one for a while just to hear that. The dishwasher even has an App so my phone can 'talk' to it remotely (which I won't be using, I still have a written calendar). Cuteness.
Not many photos as I didn't take the camera to the park, wanted to concentrate on riding. But here's a few from the deck and some shots of my cute new Poppets all ready for the giveaway.

Don't forget to check out this blog post for details on how to win these guys. I'm going to announce the winner this Wednesday! Can you believe I've been making these crazy things for three years?! Very cool.
I am really happy with this pattern. It's similar in size to previous Poppets but the legs and arms are danglier and there is less stuffing. This will hopefully mean I can stop losing money on postage in the future.
This week I'm going to play around with some pirates for the shop using this new pattern.
What do you think?
You likey?

Me likey muchy...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Duchess

For some reason unbeknownst to us mere mortals (parents) our school has a thing called "Spirit Week" this week. The senior kids chose a different theme for each day and the kids were invited to dress up accordingly. We've had Pyjama Day and Twin Day and today is Someone Famous Day.
Poppet racked her brain until she came up with Kate Middleton. She's a bit of a fan (who isn't?!) and I liked the idea of grabbing a fascinator and being done with it.
Here is our Duchess...

She's been so excited about this particular day, even asking me to postpone a haircut so she looks more authentic. Getting ready this morning was fairly angst-ridden, and she was nervous walking the four blocks to school with her veil but once we arrive her classmates pounced on her with a million questions. Pity Poppet's shyness will prevent her from using the cute British accent she was using over breakfast. She won't even speak Australian anymore! Sigh.

Tomorrow is 60s Hippy Day and Friday is Fancy Formal Day. I assume the Grade 7 girls wanted to frock up for that particular occasion.

Now, if anyone could tell me what Spirit Week actually means...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Pikelet Workshop!

That's right! I'm working on some new things.
One of my lovely customers requested a robot and I've been meaning to do one for AGES. Today the pattern was completed and I'll cut him out over the weekend. Will certainly keep you posted, pretty sure there'll be a martian buddy and maybe even an astronaut to follow...
My head has been FULL of a cute and geeky "tween" version of the Poppets for some time now. I decided now is as good a time as any to finally get them out of my head and onto fabric this week and I'm very excited. I think they look super cute and once they're completed I expect they'll spend their days dreaming up graphic novels, listening to alternative pop and gaming online with their pals.
What do you think so far?

Here's the thing, these kids need names. So I'm hoping you'll leave a comment below with your suggestions.

If you do you'll go into the draw to WIN THEM BOTH!

That's right. Two Poppets (valued at $65) to the lucky winner who comes up with some groovy names for the new kids on the block. I just can't possibly split them up.
But, I hear you ask, why exactly have I lost my mind and decided to give them away?!
Because it's pikelet workshop's THIRD birthday in May! Happy little dance indeed.

Simply leave a comment below with your ideas, one entry per person and I will draw the winner randomly.
The competition is open internationally and I will need your EMAIL address to let you know you've won.

Have an awesome weekend, am hoping to resume more normal blog-posting soon.

Good luck! I'll draw the winner on May 1st...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sunday Shorts

Hmm. It seems I'm only capable of posting once a week at the moment.
There is a lot going on, and some days I have felt like I'm being assaulted on every front. But today was a nice day, if a little wet and blustery. Spring seems to have deserted us.
Last Sunday we took it slow (and we intend to do the same this Sunday!) and had some screen time, baked some muffins, Poppet did some sketching and then we headed out for an early dinner at an English pub with some Aussie friends. There's something very comforting about having friends who agree that 3.30 on a Sunday is a very good time for dinner with kids. Home and in bed by 7. I even got a bit of stitching done!
I've included a couple of shots of Poppet dressed as Mrs Wolf from The Jungle Book. Her musical theatre class did their performance on Monday and it was very cute, if barely audible. Poppet really enjoyed herself but has confirmed my suspicions that her nerves may prevent the performer in her from busting out. Much like her mother. Sigh.
We shall stick to performances at home for now. This morning, for instance, I witnessed a dance which reminded me greatly of David Brent's weird dance in The Office. She's nothing if not a total nutter, which suits us just fine...

Here's to crazy. We all need a bit of it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sunday Shorts

This is more of an amalgam of the whole Easter weekend rather than just Sunday. We mostly relaxed at home, but had a day out with friends to sample some fresh maple syrup (separate post on that later) and managed a Sigur Ros concert (awesomeness). I even got a few orders finished.
Poppet and I did some crafting, it's so nice that she's finally at an age to be able to thread a needle herself.
I left her to come up with the brooch design and choose fabrics, and only gave her a little help. I think she surprised herself and was very proud of her efforts. The first piece made and designed completely by herself. Of course, she wants to start selling them now... "Poppet Workshop" perhaps?
Otherwise we sat on the deck and read books (blankets required). Twas a very nice weekend.

Chocolate and stickers - thank you Easter Bunny. Muffins - thank you Stephanie Alexander.
Lots of cuddles, a few new movies (Beasts of The Southern Wild is amazing!) and even a few sleep ins.
Husbands man-flu didn't even interfere.
Hope you had a great long weekend! What did you get up to?


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