Making & Mothering: My Podcast Interview + 10 Tips for Simplifying Motherhood

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers and internet friends in real life.  It was sort of surreal looking at one another in the flesh after years of reading her blog!  We got to spend some time fondling a gorilla, slurping lattes, and talking about our respective mama-hoods and business lives.  And amid all of that, Kathy mentioned that she had recently started a podcast and would be interested in interviewing me.

Say whaaaat?!

I love podcasts.  Knitting and parenting podcasts are my jam.  They have kept me company while cleaning, painting, nursing, cooking, driving, exercising, and knitting.  I look up to the women I listen to every week, for their bravery at pulling up the mic and sharing themselves.

When faced with the opportunity to be on a podcast myself, I was simultaneously excited and terrified.  It turns out I was in good hands.  Talking with Kathy is easy and fun, and it really felt like a phone call with a good friend.

We talked about my new passion, exploring making and mothering.  It’s a topic we’ve been exploring over on the Stash blog with interviews and guest posts with some pretty amazing women (click here to see them all in one place).  To get to speak about this subject from a personal standpoint had me feeling vulnerable and empowered at the same time.  I’m no expert on parenting, and I certainly don’t do things the way I want to 100% of the time.  But I do the best I can, and I am constantly learning and evolving.

If you’re so inclined, head on over to Kathy’s blog Bliss Beyond Naptime and listen to my interview!  The time flew by so quickly that we didn’t get a chance to delve into all the things I was ready to talk about.  Kathy asked me two big questions that we could have kept talking about for hours.  Below I’ve shared more of my answers that we didn’t necessarily get to in the interview.  I hope you enjoy!

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For me, I’m never more connected to my creative spirit than when I am creating.  Knitting is the main way I feel that connection, but there are infinite ways.  Find yours and give it everything you have.  Some other sources of bliss that rejuvenate and nourish my soul:

Baking—did you know I went to school to be a pastry chef?

Being out in nature—gardening, walking/hiking, the beach. Being near water. Love living in the PNW!

Reading–love to bliss out on an amazing story (fiction or otherwise). I make time for reading by enforcing and early bedtime for myself. 

Travel—doesn’t have to be big, but I find that about every 2 months or so I need a change of scenery and routine.  We also take a lot of daytrips as a family, and our staff at Stash try to take a field trip every couple of months.

Grooming!—long baths & self-manicure sessions help me clear my head and invite in all sorts of amazing ideas. Maybe it’s the polish fumes, but it works!

Friends—a good long talk with a girlfriend is so important.  My social life has been one of the things to take a hit since starting my business, and this makes me very sad.  Whenever possible, I try to reach out to my friends and touch base.

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How have you simplified motherhood so you can carve out the time and energy to follow your bliss?

  1. Changing expectations of self.  I don’t have to do it all, nor do I want to.  And I don’t have to do it like She does.  We’re all different and doing the best we can as women and moms. This was a hard transition to make when I became a mother, and again when I started running Stash.  I’m learning to put my energy into the activities that make me feel most myself, as well as a loving mother, creative business owner, fun and supportive spouse.  It’s like my biz mentor Marie Forleo says, “if isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no!”  Letting go of other people’s expectations.  This is hard—I tend to take things personally and am very sensitive.
  2. Routine: Getting rid of what doesn’t work, add in more of what does & repeat. Children love repetition and routine.  And guess what? Busy adults do, too!  We have a family rhythm that works really well for us right now.  My daughter eats the same thing (with minor variations) every day for breakfast and lunch. I used to worry about her becoming a picky eater, but I’ve let that go in favor of knowing she always has healthy choices I don’t have to think so much about.  We save new foods for our nightly family dinners and when we’re out of the house. 
  3. Present moment.  When I’m at work I’m 100% focused on Stash.  When I’m at home, I attempt to be 100% focused on my family.  I don’t work from home when my daughter is here.  This is a big challenge, but one that has enabled me to notice, appreciate, and soak up the special moments in my everyday life.  It also helps me feel a bigger sense of gratitude for the little things: friendly customers, soft yarn, belly laughs, silly faces, and a thousand other things.
  4. By encouraging solo play.  Kathy was the first person who I ever heard lay it out so clearly, bluntly, yet lovingly: I don’t play with my kids.  I felt that this was the way for me intuitively, but I felt a lot of guilt around it.  For my daughter and I, our play is reading, cooking, or creating together.  We have a craft room where we’re free to get messy and have fun, and we read together every single day. We also have a lot of family dance parties to blow off steam and reconnect at the end of a busy day!
  5. House cleaner!  I used to have a weekly cleaning schedule.  It helped me feel productive and like I was contributing to the household when I wasn’t working full time.  When my daughter was born I gave myself the gift of letting go of the deep cleanings.  Once a month someone comes in and cleans the house top to bottom.  It’s amazing what happened when I let go of worrying about scrubbing the tub or mopping the floors!  We still clean, but our standards have changed and it’s very liberating!
  6. Free days and family dinners.  No matter how busy the week is, we know that we will be having dinner together every night.  This is a huge priority for all of us, as it is often the only time we’re all sitting down in the same place at the same time.  We also do our best to not schedule more than one outside activity on the weekends so we have time together and each parent can be free to pursue passion projects. All that routine does get a little monotonous! Keeping weekends free allows for more spontaneity and fun.
  7. Bedtime and quiet time Ever since my daughter was an infant, we have held bedtime and naptimes sacred.  Not only does this mean we’re all better rested, it means we all get our own downtime, too.  When I stayed at home, I would only let myself do housework type things for a few minutes, the rest was for soul-filling activities.
  8. Less work I’ve also slowly simplified my work schedule so I have more room to dream and hunt inspiration for my life and my business.  There is this antiquated notion that entrepreneurs have to work 24/7 in order to be successful.  I regularly only work 24 hours a week  As much as possible I separate my two jobs as entrepreneur and mama so that each can have my full attention.
  9. Bonus Day My daughter goes to preschool on one of my days off! I usually do a little bit of work to keep things running smoothly, then I take care of what need to in order to fill my bliss cup back up.  It usually involves not getting dressed, writing a blog post or two, reading, knitting, and cooking up something yummy.

What are your sources of joy and rejuvenation, dear mama?  How do you take care of your creative self while also being the mama of your dreams?  Do share~I’d love to hear from you!

Yarn Along

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Over the weekend I finished both the book and knitting project I shared last time.  Both were a real treat!  Before I even bound off my shawl, I started plotting my next 2 projects.  The golden-yellow yarn in the back is a swatch for a sweater; I’m on the fence about this, so should probably finish off the swatch and block it already.  Next, I pulled this rainbow yarn from my stash and cast on a quick hat.  You know, just to have something ready to go.  I wouldn’t want to be caught without a portable knitting project!  After knitting the brim in a strip and picking up stitches for the body of the hat, this will be perfect potato chip knitting.

The book’s a quick read as well.  I have already watched season one of Orange is the New Black on Netflix and loved it.  It is rare that a television show have so many rich and nuanced female characters in one show.  The book is Piper Kerman’s account of what led up to and including her spending a year in federal prison.  She is respectful and empathetic for the most part, even when describing unimaginable treatment by the prison staff or the circumstances of her fellow inmates.  I find it fascinating and upsetting all at once.  I’m learning a lot about one person’s experience, and it is shocking to me how people are treated in prison. After having seen the show first I keep wondering how much from the show parallels her real life experience.  I’d recommend reading the book first, maybe, so there isn’t that fact/fiction comparison.  Although it would probably happen in reverse, too.  Either way, I recommend both, so choose your own adventure!

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As an aside, I’d like to mention that we have a shiny new Stash blog with a great interview with knitting designer Susan B. Anderson.  You should head over and enter to win a copy of her most recent book, Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys!

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This Yarn Along post, as ever, is inspired by the lovely Ginny over at Small Things: ”Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?”

Yes, do tell! What’s on your nightstand and project bag this week?

 

Yarn Along :: Circus Stripes

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Follow me on Instagram as soniaruyts

A few weeks ago, it was light when I woke up.  Lately, it’s been just on the edges of a deep darkness at the same time.  And just like that, summer began its slow shift into autumn.  I’m trying to spend time reminiscing over all the fun, truly summer activities we got to enjoy instead of mounring its inevitable end.  At the same time I’m enjoying the tinge of cool that is creeping in around the edges of each day.

This has me thinking about ways to cozy up my home and dreaming of sweaters to knit with a golden yellow yarn I have stashed for such a purpose.  For now, though, while the days are still quite warm and the evenings a bit brisk, I’m curling up with miles and miles of garter stitch and a journey to another place and time. While continuing to daydream about sweaters, of course.

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Night Circus and Happy Street by Veera Valimaki {my Ravelry notes are here}

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Both the book and my project capruted my imagination the very first time I saw them.  It took me a while to decide to spend time with either; I tend to shy away from some of the best patterns and books simply because it seems everyone else is already been there.  I had always admired Color Affection by the same designer, but didn’t do it for that reason (nearly 10k projects!).  And here I go mimiking her more recent pattern by using the same color palette.  Oh well.  It’s a bit mysterious, a bit candy crush, and very fun to knit.

The book has been a real treat to immerse myself in.  A mysterios traveling circus.  A challenge between two powerful, magical people.  Fabulous settings, costumes, and illusions fill the pages, and I am hooked.

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This Yarn Along post, as ever, is inspired by the lovely Ginny over at Small Things: “Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?”

Yes, do tell! What’s on your nightstand and project bag this week?

Growing

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The garden is growing.

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Sweet bunting in The Fibre Co. Acadia
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Lobelia in Anzula Cloud

And so is my knititng.

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But most of all, this summer my little girl is growing.  She’s made that indescribable crossing from toddler to small child, and there’s every indication she’ll just keep going from here.  She’s a joker, an artist, a storyteller, and a joyful liver of life.

The way she is lives so fully in the present is truly teaching me what it means to live in the moment.  I am reminded to give her my best as often as I can.  The rest of it: the laundry, the crumbs on the counter, even the running of my business, can just wait a minute.  Because who would want to miss that look?  Not me.

This Moment:: In Concert

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Inspired by Soule Mama:  {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Yarn Along:: Road Trip Wips

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From Small Things ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

We took a family road trips last weekend.  This meant lots of knitting time in the car and short bursts of it in many places along our way.  I knit by a pool, in a restaurant, in our hotel(s), and by the ocean.  This pile of green knitting you see is destined to be the Sweet Bunting cardigan. I’m knitting it out of Acadia, and I have to say it is lovely stuff.  It feels luxurious yet rustic with the bobs of silk that come along every so often.  Yes, I’m knitting another baby sweater out of really nice yarn.  Why not?

I also started a new book on the trip, Jamrach’s Menagerie.  It’s set in 19th century London and is told from the perspective of a young boy who first finds himself in the jaws of a tiger and then working for the man who deals in exotic animals.  I’m only in the first third of the book, and it’s already captured my interest and I’m curious to see where the adventure goes.

So what’s in your project basket and on your nightstand this week?

Catching Up

I knew it had been a while since my last post, but wow.  It has been a challenging spring, with both Sweetie and PB spending time in the hospital.  Rest assured, both are well now and we are looking forward to a fun and easy-going summer!

Through it all, there has been knitting and reading and gardening and mothering and business-running aplenty going on.  Here are some highlights:

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1. Fiar by Irish Girlie Knits in Black Trillium Pebble sock, Ravelry Notes here

2. Baby Sophisticate knit in Malabrigo worsted, Ravelry notes here

3. A much-needed day of fun at Oaks Park. She rode all. the. rides.

4. Awesome train building with my girl.

5. We recently had a little photoshoot for Stash. I love our merry group of Stash Enhancers!

6. I was featured in an article about crafty tattoos in the current issue (#5) of Pom Pom Quarterly!  What an honor and a treat to be included in such a beautful needle craft magazine!  This special little publication from London is not to be missed. Only a few US shops have it at this point, but you can get a subscritption or order online here or at Stash.

I hope your summer is off to a an easy, breezy start.  See you in this space soon for some wip action!