Friday, February 18, 2011

Quilts! (a suprisingly non-baby-centric blog entry)

I started quilting when Tyler and I returned home from our round-the-world trip. I had two weeks before going to back to work and, besides getting over jetlag, finding an apartment and moving our belongings out of storage, I had plenty of time. We were staying with my in-laws, and my mother-in-law, Susan, is a master quilter. It seemed like the time to take a crash course (and to have the perfect opportunity to raid her fabric stash, use all her supplies and have her tutelage readily available!). I didn't start small; my first quilt was a bed-sized quilt Tyler and I still use. The pattern was probably about as easy and forgiving as one could be for a beginner: cut many long strips of fabric, cut them in uneven lengths, sew together, and--ta-da!--quilt top made.

My first quilt: a Kaffe Fassett pattern in various blues, creams and some browns.

Before then, I had dabbled in various crafts, but mostly when I was much younger. Some sewing, some cross-stitching, but I hadn't really done really anything craft-y since middle-school. The first hook was probably set when Tyler and I got engaged. It was tradition for Susan to make a wedding quilt for her sons; the fiancee got to pick the pattern and the fabric. I was in heaven amidst all the fabric options. I loved finding fun patterns, quirky combinations and using lots of different colors and designs.

My second quilt was a small, lap quilt for my friend, Alison. She had also put us up as Tyler and I transitioned back to work and life in Seattle and had been really supportive of my first quilt attempt. This time I was slightly more ambitious--I had seen a pattern I liked online that I wanted to replicate. Still fairly straightforward, but it did mean that I had to figure out my own pattern.

Alison's quilt in browns, pinks and golds.

Then I was pregnant. Between Susan's quilting and my mother's amazing knitting, this baby wasn't going to suffer for coverings, but I wanted to make my own baby quilt. I went simple, with a pretty traditional square patchwork design, but again mixed it up with some retro fabrics, some Asian, an eye-popping orange, and flannel sock monkeys on the back.

Stella's quilt, in gender neutral blue, green and yellow.

So now it's baby number two's turn. I know it's practically tradition to not finish the second baby's project, but I'm on a mission. I had a hard time getting started on this one. I picked fabrics and decided they were too mature. I picked a design and then changed my mind. Finally I decided to tackle something I've wanted to do for a long-time--pinwheels.

Baby Number 2's quilt: probably my most ambitious piecing and first time with prairie points, too.

I'm glad I waited until now to do it. It definitely requires more attention to detail and more consistent sewing then I could have pulled off with my first few quilts. I've learned over time that it really is worth it to get it right, measure closely, sew straight lines and pull things apart and start over if they're not right. (It's funny--I enjoy that kind of fastidiousness now with sewing but I still prefer cooking over baking for its forgiveness of improvisation.)

I'm thankful that meeting Tyler and then Susan introduced this kind of activity back into my life. I love the fabrics, the opportunity to connect with other sewers and crafters, the creative outlet and the way to show love and appreciation to people in my life. I have far more ideas and quilts I want to make then time!

PS: here's how I'm looking at 19 weeks. You can definitely tell this is a second pregnancy. Here I am at 19 weeks for comparison!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two-Years-Old/Baby Number Two

It's been too long since I posted. That's mostly because right before Stella's second birthday, I went from being "happy-go-lucky" pregnant to "24-hours-a-day nauseous and exhausted" pregnant. For 8 weeks. But more on that later.

Stella's two. And until about a week ago, I was regularly telling people how awesome I thought two was. Sure, we had moments, but on the whole, it's been pretty great. High points: unsolicited "I love you"s, singing (particularly "itsy, bitsy spider"), "reading" books like "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" from memory, and generally being engaged, talkative, curious and fun.

Stella in her butterfly pants and with her first ponytail. She was quite pleased with herself!

Well, a week ago, Stella decided to embrace two in a new way. And it's still not terrible, but I have a feeling we're getting a taste of the next year....or so. Now when she sits down for dinner, she immediately says, "I don't like it!" and pushes her plate away. The response to nearly any suggestion is "no", and today she pulled a teenage move by getting offended by Tyler for some mysterious reason (have I mentioned she can have a flair for the dramatic and sensitive?), ran to her room, and shut the door hard. I thought we wouldn't get that for at least 10 more years! There's also the bedtime procrastination, the fight to put on her coat *every* morning, you get the idea. I know this is an important stage, and she's just asserting herself, but living with a constant contrarian can be taxing.

But overall I'm feeling much less taxed lately. Baby number 2 is doing her/his thing, but I'm back to having energy and generally feeling good. Nineteen weeks tomorrow--nearly halfway! The due date is July 14th, and I'm pretty excited about having a summer baby: sunlight, long days, lots less worry about keeping the baby warm. Poor baby could stand to have a better nickname, but it doesn't mean any less actual excitement. It's interesting being pregnant again. I'm more impatient to get the show on the road, but also more aware that there really is a baby we just don't know yet who's in the process of developing. Stella doesn't seem quite sure what to make of it yet. Sometimes she knows the baby is in my belly (one morning she was insisting it was a girl), and other times she says the baby is in her tummy or that *she's* the baby. This will be an adjustment. Ultrasound is in two weeks--so we'll have pics to post soon! And it's probably nearly time to start with the belly pics--I'm actually still not showing much, but it's not far off....