I think I saw a Pukeko – New Zealand Picture Book about birds, words, arguing and not always having to be right

I wrote a book and then I illustrated it and here it is!

This is a fun and funny little story about the words we use to describe things (in this case birds), about how to tell things apart and about fantasy versus reality but it’s also about how to give up when an argument is not really going anywhere…

I published this book with the help of The Copy Press in Nelson, New Zealand. It’s a fully local production – it’s New Zealand made, New Zealand inspired AND it’s about an iconic New Zealand bird, the Pukeko.

Here I am with my daughter reading it via a quick video shot by Reuben from Shoot-Edit-Video in Piha.

I have learned so much going through the publishing process and I am so pleased to share ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ with you.

You can purchase a copy here and I can ship anywhere in the world.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching. X

P.S. I would love your comments too, so please feel free to add some words below and/or click ‘follow’ before you go.

Mwah!

10 Facts Everyone Should Know About Building A House With Kids

Are you building a house? Renovating a current one or mentally designing a future move? Yes? Then read on.

We designed and built our house before we had children and we did a few things wrong.

Here are ten facts everyone should know about designing and building a house that will (eventually) have young children living in it.

Some of these things we planned for but others have really surprised us and resulted in some maddening moments.

Hopefully you can learn from our experience.

The dreaded textured carpet.

Avoid at all costs: the dreaded textured carpet.

1. Include a bath

This is something we got right. We added an ensuite and planned for the main bathroom to eventually be a ‘family bathroom’. Our first plans didn’t include a bath but I was certain that a bath was an essential part of childhood. One of the three bedrooms has been made slightly smaller to accommodate the inclusion of the bath but it has been well worth it.

The bathroom has become the hub of activity in the evenings and its placement near the kitchen has been excellent in case I have to feed one child in a high chair while the older one bathes under my supervision.

If I could do it over I would include a much larger bath for two adults to fit once the kids are in bed… but for now we are glad we included one.

The bath is essential for life with kids. It can be used as an activity centre for messy play and immersing a child into a warm bath is an excellent calming technique for an overtired or stroppy infant.

2. Choose carpet that is durable and not too textured.

We didn’t scrimp on carpet and bought a thick wool sisal carpet. The wool aspect has been great for our babies being able to go barefoot most of the year. We chose a dark tone knowing that I love my red wine and coffee but the spills that come with children could not have been foreseen.

We have been happy with the warmth and durability of the carpet but the sisal texture of it drives me mad. Between the lovely raised designs are little grooves that are annoying dust magnets. With our (pretty powerful) vacuum cleaner, you still have to vacuum in several directions over a single area before an area is really clean and even then I am dubious.

It is really frustrating especially for things like cracker crumbs and sand and glitter… In fact it was the frustration I felt while vacuuming just now that inspired this post.

3. Consider placement of rooms carefully

We didn’t plan for this but our current house plan means that my studio doorway is opposite my son’s room. This is PERFECT for allowing me to get some work done while still making sure that he is happy and safe playing. It also means I am not far away from him at bedtime and I can leave his door open for him to sleepily watch me sew/draw.

On the other hand, our bedroom is on the opposite end of the house from the other rooms. This seemed like a good idea but I don’t like having my children far away from me at night. Similarly this made our first transition of moving our son from our room to his room more difficult in hindsight. It also meant that he stayed in our room longer than we had originally planned because neither of us wanted to venture that far to keep checking on him… (it feels like a really long way in the middle of the night).

4. Use double gib for internal walls

We added sound insulation to internal walls between the lounge and the master bedroom with late night movie watching in mind but in hindsight, we should have used it for all internal walls.

Kids are noisy.

When you have two under two it would be nice if one child’s crying didn’t disturb the other one…

The main bathroom shares a wall with our son’s room and it is a real pain trying to bathe a second baby/clean up the toys/flush the toilet quietly while mister two is trying to sleep in the next room.

Also, when it used to be the guest room – it would be nice to be able to use the toilet without the guests hearing everything. Ahem.

WARNING: Be careful with sound deadening devices though – in early weeks with my son I happily cut vinyl to make Splat Mats right outside his room thinking I would definitely hear him if he cried. Stupid double glazing meant that when I checked on him he was really upset and I still don’t know how long he had been crying… 😦

5. Add more storage

Our house plans included the usual linen cupboard, built in wardrobes in the bedrooms and a walk in wardrobe in the master bedroom. It seemed like a lot.

It isn’t.

Add more. Then more still. You will need more storage than you can ever imagine…

Consider a ‘giant chuck cupboard’ that could be used to sweep all kid stuff out of the way before guest arrive. I would love one of those (some days I feel like I am WADING in kid stuff. WADING! Gah.)

6. Add more power points than you think you will need

When designing a house on paper and adding little symbols for power points, it is easy to feel like you have enough. Two in each bedroom, for example, is standard practice for either side of a double bed BUT when you have children’s furniture in a room that was designed for a double bed, chances are that you have just covered the power outlets.

Our kitchen also seemed like it had enough (6) – but once phones are charging and a mixer is plugged in and you also have a kettle and a toaster… well just add more.

7. Use utility flooring

Our house was initially carpeted with just the utility areas set up as wet areas.

Since having children, we have lifted the carpet and made half of our open plan house wipeable/wet mess capable.

I got SO sick of vacuuming wood chips (from our wood fireplace), sand, fur and food from the carpet that lifting it was the right thing to do.

As a great side effect it has made our open plan house feel bigger with a lighter colour on the floor as well as delineate living spaces nicely. The kids can also ride trikes/crash trucks inside without us being too precious about the carpet.

Choose a hard-wearing surface option for action areas.

NB: We originally wanted bamboo laminate flooring but this is not designed for wet areas at all! The amount of spills etc that we have experienced make me very glad we didn’t go for bamboo laminate.

8. Buy extra wallpaper or extra paint

I fell in love with a textured hessian-look wallpaper that looks like fine sacking dipped in soft green paper pulp. I still love it, but after a bike was dropped against it, a truck was thrown at it, banana was spat at it and a chair was scraped on it… I wish I had a few more spare rolls handy.

Consider headboards that go along the side of a child’s bed to protect your wall covering too.

9. Consider placement of furniture

It’s a lovely idea to have ranch sliders everywhere to take in the view of the bush valley we look over but with an open plan house it means we actually have very few walls to put furniture against.

10. Use vertical railing on gates

We thought we were being so clever adding swing gates to sections of our wrap-around deck so that we could have safe areas for children and dogs to play. Something we never considered was that little feet can fit through the railings and climb the diagonal bracing on the back of the gates. I don’t normally mind my son climbing, but I really do when it is a 4m drop on the other side of the railing…

How is your house set up to cope with children? What advice would you give for someone designing their own home?

Thanks for reading. Like this post? Click ‘follow’ before you go (on the right) and take a moment to check out the cool things I make here.

Why not knowing what you are doing can make you more brave (Thank you)

Since becoming a Mum I have realised that most of the time I have no idea what I am doing… there is no ultimate parenting guide after all.

But I have taken heart from this and become a bit more brave in general. As a consequence I am doing lots of other things I never knew how to do before either…

And my latest thing is actually ‘doing something’ with all the writing and drawing that I do. So I am self-publishing.

Here is a sneak peek at my favourite illustration.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? - sneak peek inside 'I think I saw a Pukeko' by Katrina Ward.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? – sneak peek inside ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ by Katrina Ward.

I’m qualified to write (and draw) I suppose. I used to be an English, Art and Art History teacher. I have degrees in all those subjects. I won the senior English prize at Auckland University. I also recently won the KBR Unpublished Children’s Manuscript Award International Category with my story ‘The Lost Button’ – and all of this has given me a bit of a push in the right direction.

So here it is:

MY FIRST Illustrated Kids Book up on Amazon.

It’s called ‘I Think I Saw A Pukeko’ and it’s a conversation between two kids, or a kid and an adult, or a ‘believer’ and ‘non-believer’ (you decide). It’s fun and very short and my kids love it and I hope yours will too.

Please get in touch if you want a hard cover print copy ($20)

You can take a look at my first book here.

Thanks for all your support everyone. X

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

Love Katrina x

Oh and to celebrate with you – I have extended a sale on all A5 prints (all $10!) for you on my outie page.

http://www.outie.co.nz

Holy Bat Babies Batman – Bat Print Fun

I don’t often share my behind the scenes unfinished drawings. Yesterday a friend said that she would like to see more of the design process… So I am sharing for her and hopefully you like it too.

Bats have been on my brain lately.

Since seeing them at the zoo with mister two (I think they were actually flying foxes) and then seeing them everywhere in kids’ decor, I wanted to design a fun bat blanket.

As you might have realised already, I do love a good pun…. so with the Batmobile I started thinking about a mobile with little baby bats on it. But when I was drawing patterns with baby bats, they looked silly just dangling in the air like they were on strings and they needed something more solid to anchor them to.

I tried hanging them on hearts because I notices the curved shapes of a Bat’s wing kind of makes the top of a heart shape but I was getting off track and just doodling like a bored high school student…

So I added a visual metaphor instead.

Who is the best anchor for wayward babies? Mummy that’s who (or at least I like to think so).

Why aren’t the baby bats sleeping? Well, knowing my own baby bats so well, they probably only want you to think that they are sleeping even though they are VERY TIRED and should definitely go to bed…

I still loved the heart shapes in my sketches but when I included them as noses in my final drawing the silhouettes looked too busy. I left the heart shape where the wing wraps around their body though, I love that bit.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing some work in progress insights into my latest little fabric design, I liked drawing these little guys.

I’ve called this print Batmobile Bat Babies. This is available as an organic cotton blanket, a mini comforter blankie and a limited edition A4 print (ten only!).

Love Katrina (Outie)

Batmobile with Bat Babies. A new design by Outie.co.nz

Batmobile with Bat Babies. A new design by Outie.co.nz

Sketching out a solution for how to hang bat babies in a pattern.

Sketching out a solution for how to hang bat babies in a pattern.

bat babies sample

The final pattern with Mama Bat flying around with her Bat Babies in tow.

Bat babies

‘Not just a mum’ – How to take charge of your career at home in five easy steps

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

I thought that becoming a mum would force me to tread water in terms of my career while I stayed home to be with my kids, but instead it has opened up brand new doors. My career path has changed so much that my ‘old job’ is probably no longer the best fit for me.

How can you use parenting to your advantage?

Step one: Find your love.

The great thing about being home with children is that you can try new things every day and nobody can see you trying them. This means that the fear of ‘failing’ is much less fierce. You could try golf, watercolour painting, crochet or practice head-stands. You could jump on a trampoline or become a crossword expert… without the weight of ‘work’ on your shoulders, you are free to try anything you like – and ‘like’ should be the drive for whatever it is that you do.

If you loved sewing as a kid, why not take some online courses? If you loved drawing, why not draw?

For me, my loves are drawing and sewing. Both of these ‘old loves’ led me to start Outie.

Step Two: Upskill

It’s hard to believe that prior to having children I was an ‘anti computer’ type. I thought e-books were the ruin of reading (but then I realised how handy they are when you are breastfeeding), I thought painting had to be done with real paint (until I realised that digital paint couldn’t be spilled), I thought facebook was silly (until I realised that it is a valuable tool for connecting with people when you are stuck at home with your baby…). Enough said really.

I taught myself some new skills. I can happily say that I am now good friends with Photoshop, proficient with several social media tools and have become a better knitter and crocheter because I have been determined to make the most out of my time at home with my kids – for me as well as for them.

Some of the skills I have learned are not necessarily ‘career’ related, but they still mean that I feel like I am progressing in some way for my own sense of purpose/sense of being and becoming a better me as well as a better mum.

Things I still want to do include learning a new language, learning how to sew a perfect invisible zip and how to be more professional with my use of Illustrator for fashion design.

Step Three: Practise

Once you decide what it is that you love and/or what it is that you want to learn, it’s important to try to set aside time each day to do it. Of course, this is almost impossible once you tend to the needs of your baby/ies but making sure you find ‘some’ time ‘sometime’ is workable.

Five minutes stolen out of your day every now and then all adds up…

Step Four: Set Goals/Have a vision

I imagine future me is better suited to daily drawing/design and my ideal job would be designing fabric full time.

If I returned to my old job as a teacher, I imagine that I would be pursuing a more senior role. I like to think that my time spent at home with the acquisition of new skills all contributes to me being more employable if/when I return.

Step Five: Keep a record and share it

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

It’s having a down day that prompted this post.

Today I forgot about all the personal progress I have made because I was bogged down with ‘mum stuff’ after a difficult day with the kids.

I had one of those days where if someone called me, ‘just a mum’ I would probably have just run with it even though it goes counter to everything that I believe about motherhood.

Being ‘just’ a mum is already quite the job description. It requires a big heart as well as managerial skills, behaviour management skills, gumption, enthusiasm, team-work, leadership, time management, organisational skills, social planning, accounting, hygiene management, active self esteem preservation, perseverance, accountability, other-centredness or altruism and more.

And it’s so easy to forget about your own development and your own path when you so carefully monitor and are embedded in the development of your children.

I don’t know where this is all heading yet  –  but I just wanted to share with you that becoming a mum has changed the way that I see my career because it has gifted me time to reflect on what I really want to do with my life, allowed me to try new things, prompted me to learn new skills and enabled me to try new things and maybe it will open new doors too.

fabrics for leggings feather falls batwing

It turns out that there are no predictable paths for creativity or for where your role as a parent might take you…

Thanks for following me and my family on our little journey.

Textile design showcase

sharkies sting ray master yellow unicorn duvetSaurus Saurus Saurus Roarus white

Thanks for reading. Please click ‘follow’ before you go if you liked this post or join us on facebook or Instagram. X

Ten Easy Indoor Activities for Toddlers

I love hanging out with my kids and I especially love coming up with new things to do. 

Here is a little list of my recent favourite indoor activities to keep my toddler busy.

These ideas are brought to you by the Outie Splat Mat.

 

1) Washi tape shapes on the floor

I made a square, a triangle and a star on the floor using washi tape. My son knows the words for triangle and star but hasn’t yet recognised squares – so the teacher in me wanted to give him a new shape to practise saying and the square is THERE on the floor so we keep using the word as we pass it now.

We ran across them and shouted the names of the shapes as we stepped on them.

We jumped in them.

While he ate his lunch, he directed me to hop from one shape to another.

We put his toys in them.

We talked about ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the shapes.

We hopped in them.

We sat in them.

He even chose to eat his lunch inside the triangle.

August 1270

 

2) Matching shapes

This is an extension to the washi tape shape idea. Cut shapes from card or draw pictures with the shapes in them. (I.e. a house could have a square AND a triangle in it) and put the cards into the right shape as a giant sorting activity.

 

3) Indoor bowling

You don’t need a bowling pin set to have fun bowling down structures. You can make towers with blocks to bowl down. I like to use my son’s stacking robots to set out like pins then we roll balls at them to try to knock them over.

 

4) Toddler petanque

I made some simple bean bags with lentils in them out of some scraps of fabric. Here’s some instructions (they are fun to juggle with too). Put plastic tea cups out as targets and try to throw the bean bags into the cups or onto the saucers. We can play the same game using toys as targets and rolling balls to them. A teacup and saucer stack (make sure they are plastic) is super fun to throw things at to try to knock it down too.

 

5) Indoor painting

Use a Splat Mat for this one. Squirt paint onto the paper or Splat Mat and let your toddler smoosh it with their hands. Have an old towel handy for the inevitable spills…

 

6) Bath painting

Add food colouring to shaving foam and take your painting into the bath. (This is a personal favourite because he can paint at my feet and I can have a long shower).

August 076 August 077

 

7. Baking/Breaking/Mashing

I love making weetbix slice with mister two because he gets the job of crumbling the weetbix (use a bowl and sit them down on a Splat Mat) and my second favourite is banana muffins (he gets the potato masher and loves mashing the banana).

 

8) Button Banking

I made a piggy bank out of an old pop bottle with papier mache and I give my son the piggy bank and a jar of buttons to ‘bank’. (The nose unscrews so he can start again).

Tip 15 trash to treasure

 

9) Santa sack

This is a great activity for keep toddlers ‘busy’ while you change the sheets. Simply wrap toddler up and carry over your shoulder like a mad santa… I recommend a strong sheet for this one as my toddler likes to be swung about and you need to be sure that they won’t fall out.

 

10) Kitchen Drum Kit

This is an oldie but a goodie. Sometimes when I am stuck for things to do I ask myself, what would my Grandma do? Tin cups, chipsticks, wooden spoons and whisks with metal bowls or saucepans are a nice and easy noisy play solution.

 

We have loads more ideas for fun play but ten is a good number to start with. What are your fun play ideas?

Like this post? Please follow us by clicking the link on the right.

 

Love Outie.

 

 

 

 

Denim Bunting – An easy upcycling project

Love bunting? In the mood for some easy DIY? Then this project is for you.

You need:

A pair of old jeans

Scissors or pinking shears

A sharpie

1) Cut down side seams of your jeans so that the seam is still in tact along one side.

2) Cut zig zags up the legs of the jeans so that each line meets at the thick seam but doesn’t cut through it. End your zig-zags on each leg with a downward line at the crotch. I used pinking shears so that the edges are neat but scissors will work too.

3. Open out and you have bunting with the seam as the rope that binds them together.

4. Source type that you like (or make it up) and draw letters on your bunting flags with your sharpie.

5. Do the same with the other side of your jeans and stitch together for longer bunting if you like.

6. Pin up and admire your super-quick and super-satisfying handiwork. X

denim bunting

A little bit of upcycling goes a long way.

Love Outie: we like to make stuff and save the planet too.