What I Want to Give My Son

Hello, sweet friends! Thank you so much for your all your kind comments on the quilt! I am so happy to have it finished, and it was fun to show it off to my wonderful parents, who were here for the past week. It was the happiest flurry of activity: cooking and cleaning and baby rocking and walks in the stroller and, most of all, staring and smiling at our sweet baby. My parents are incredible, and this past week I saw their amazingness in a whole new way. I realized, once again, how unbelievably fortunate I am to have them in my life. Most parents want to give their children a better life than the one they had, but if I can give our son what my parents gave, and continue to give, to me, then I will consider myself to have earned an A plus at this parenting thing. I am not talking about material things, though it will be so much fun to watch Micah open presents on Christmas morning and take him to every zoo and children’s museum within a 100-mile radius. I am talking, essentially, about love. These are the things I want to give my son. These are the things my parents gave me.

A mother who is absolutely delighted to hear his voice every time he calls.

A father who proudly wallpapers his office with his artwork.

A mother who encourages him to try every little thing that he is interested in.

A father who tells him that he can be anything in the world he wants to be.

A mother who cleans toilets, cooks dinners, and always presses a $20 bill into his hand when he needs it.

A father who sends a check every month to help him make rent if he happens to be living in one of the most expensive cities in the country on a laughable graduate student salary.

A mother who fills his life with laughter and fun.

A father who tells him, when he wrecks his mother’s car three days after getting his driver’s license, that it’s just a hunk of metal and plastic, and that the important thing is that he’s okay.

A mother who will read him books all the livelong day and take him to the library whenever he wants to go.

A father who teaches him to drive stick shift, even when he accidentally runs dad’s beloved sports car up on the curb.

A mother who will let him jet off to Russia or Bosnia or wherever else he wants to go, even though it makes her nervous to have him so far away.

A father whose gentleness, patience, generosity, and persistent faith make every difficulty in life seem manageable.

Parents whose unconditional love is felt every moment of every day.

And that’s just the things they’ve done for me. Multiply that list by three to get the full effect. I could go on and on with this list of things I want to give Micah for days, but there is one thing I know I have already given him: two sets of grandparents who absolutely adore him.

Baby’s Quilt: Finished!

Baby's QuiltFirst of all, let me thank you all so much for your love and sweet comments on my last few posts. It’s probably going to be a little while before I can respond to comments regularly (someone is keeping me busy!), but I treasure each and every one of them. The only thing better than having a tremendous joy in life is having friends to share it with. Thank you so much! Also, if you would like an invitation to Micah’s baby blog, To Love So, please just leave a comment here, or shoot me an email or facebook message or send a carrier pigeon–whatever works best for you. I now realize it was probably too ambitious of me to think that I could cull through thousands of comments and enter everyone’s email addresses into the system between feedings and changings and laundry foldings. Ha! More new mom naïveté. But I don’t want to leave any of you wonderful friends out, so please email/comment/message/carrier pigeon away!

Baby's QuiltAnd now: the quilt! I finished it two days before Micah was born, which was most excellent because let me just tell you, if it hadn’t been finished before he was born, I am pretty sure it would be gathering dust for the next few months. I have to say, I love it, and, like labor, I still kind of can’t believe I did it. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to two ladies who went before me in all things quilting, without whose experience I never would have believed I could do it. The first one is my mom, who should really get the Nobel Prize for Awesomeness. Get on it, Stockholm. One of my strongest memories of childhood and adolescence was that my mom was always working on some new colorful project: fabric marbling, stamp carving, knitting and sewing and painting. There was nothing too intimidating for her–she just decided it looked like fun, and she did it. Her quilts are bold and vibrant things of beauty. I have one sitting right next to me, and I shall never give it back. The second lady is Elise Blaha, who is always inspiring me with her creativity and her can-do attitude. She started quilting a few years ago, and she made it look so…possible! I used her tutorial and this book she recommended for this quilt.

Baby's QuiltSince I have now officially finished a whole quilt, I wanted to reflect a bit on the process. There are a million steps to making a quilt, and some of them I really love. Some of them are rougher for me, but not enough to dissuade me from dreaming of making many more quilts (um, my quilting board on Pinterest is officially out of control). I came late to quilting in part because I didn’t think it was very well suited to someone of my temperament. I am not a person of great precision. Making things for me is about enjoying the process and making a mess, and I have jettisoned all the remaining shreds of my youthful perfectionism (hallelujah!). Nothing I make is perfect, and that’s how I like it. But quilts are things of precision: all those sharp angles and perfectly measured and cut strips. I really did not think I could pull that off perfectly. And I didn’t. There were a few times when I was disappointed, but I have been amazed and heartened to see how forgiving the quilt is, especially for one with such a geometric design. You can for sure find all the little flaws if you look for them, but otherwise they are sort of hidden away in the stitching. I love that.

And so, here is my quilt reckoning. I wanted to list the steps in order from my favorite to my least favorite, just for fun, and because these are the kind of things I think about when I am feeding my baby in the middle of the night. Here goes!

Buying fabric. Is there anything more fun than the very beginning of a project, when you’re still dreaming and envisioning it? Buying fabric was exhilarating, and I expect that it always will be.

Quilting. Even though it’s quite hard to get the whole blanket crammed through the sewing machine on the long middle rows, I absolutely loved seeing the quilt come together as I stitched all three layers together. It started to really look like a blanket, and that was so exciting.

Baby's QuiltBinding. This was a surprise! I never expected to enjoy this part of it because it calls for precision. But I found that I actually had an easy time sewing in a straight line when I had a guide to work with (the edges of the binding), and I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked as I sewed each side on.

Sewing. While kind of tedious in the beginning, it was fun to see these tiny triangles become squares and then strips and then a whole quilt top. I do love sitting down at the machine (and I *LOVE* my sewing machine) and hearing its gentle whir.

Laying out fabric. Oof, this was hard on my back because I don’t have a table big enough to lay everything out (how do you amazing quilters make such huge ones?). It was initially really cool to get the pattern set up, but it was a lot of bending down and straightening things out for a pregnant lady. I also had trouble getting the layers to lay flat when I was making the quilt sandwich: ahhh! And my least favorite part of all was trying to get the strips to line up evenly: super ahhh! I ended up ripping some seams out and moving them to make things more even, but that is not anyone’s idea of fun, and there are still puh-lenty of uneven spots in the design. However, Elise says in her tutorial to decide how much you want this to bother you and then move on. And so I decided that the answer to this question was “not much” and moved on as directed.

Ironing. Well, does anyone like to iron? The upside is that ironing really makes whatever you’ve sewn look crisp and professional. I am down with that.

Cutting fabric. Argh, this is my least favorite part because, as noted, I am not a master of precision. I am sure I still have lots to learn, but it was frustrating that no matter how hard I tried, I ended up with uneven squares and triangles. In an ideal world, I would just outsource the fabric cutting to my dad, who is so good at things like that. But in the meantime, I just like to get it out of the way and embrace the imperfection that comes with it.

Baby's QuiltThat’s it! There are just a few things I wish I’d done differently on this quilt, but none of them really bother me too much. I sort of wish I had chosen a slightly darker green for the binding, but I do think it looks fantastic with the turquoise backing. I am pretty sure if I’d chosen a darker green, I would’ve wished for a lighter one! The other thing is that the backing wasn’t quiiiite wide enough for the quilt, so I had to trim off about half a square from each side. I think it’s possible to find a wider backing at a quilt store, or I could have just sewn two pieces of fabric together to make a wider backing, but somehow that did not appeal to me. And so I don’t regret it too much.

Baby's QuiltI sort of ninja-ed my own technique for the corners of the binding, and I am pretty happy with how that turned out. It’s a bit of a hot mess on the back, but I double and triple stitched it to reinforce it, and, in the immortal words of my wise mother, “Who cares?” I find that this is a good attitude to take when dealing with minor imperfections, along with some other immortal words of my wise mother: “It just adds character.” Of course, my quilting stitches aren’t perfectly straight, in part because my strips aren’t perfectly straight, but this bothers me not at all. You can tell it was made by hand, and I love that.

Baby's Quilt(Don’t worry–we are not using his crib yet and will remove all soft things before we do!) Despite the parts that I didn’t love (ahhh, fabric cutting!), I had SO MUCH FUN making this quilt and would love to make another one. Playing with fabric is awesome, and I love that I am getting more comfortable with my sewing machine and learning new techniques. I am so drawn to interesting patterns, but I think for my next quilt I will try to work just with solids. I love the rainbow look! And I think maybe next time I will try to use the real quilt binding method (although bias tape was just what the doctor ordered for this one). I think I have gone overboard on my use of the word “fun” in this post, but it is seriously just my favorite part of pursuing any craft to try to pick up new techniques with each project I do. I have a whole world left to explore in quilting, and I am pretty excited about it!

To Love So

FlowersHello, wonderful friends and family! Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and excitement about our sweet baby’s arrival! (And thank you to my parents, who sent the most adorable flower arrangement ever!)

I’m so happy to be putting together a place where I can share updates on our sweet baby with you. It’s a private blog called To Love So. What does the name mean? It comes from the same Nabokov quote that gave me my original blog name, Krug the Thinker:

“And what agony, thought Krug the thinker, to love so madly a little creature, formed in some mysterious fashion (even more mysterious to us than it had been to the very first thinkers in their pale olive groves) by the fusion of two mysteries, or rather two sets of a trillion mysteries each; formed by a fusion which is, at the same time, a matter of choice and a matter of chance and a matter of pure enchantment; thus formed and then permitted to accumulate trillions of its own mysteries; the whole suffused with consciousness, which is the only real thing in the world and the greatest mystery of all.”
-Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

Bend Sinister is a brilliant and complex text, but at its heart it is a novel about love, about a father trying to protect his child. The agony that he speaks of is not a negative one, but one that all parents know: a love this all-consuming makes you vulnerable in the most overwhelming and beautiful way. Has this new mom already sobbed while thinking of all the things she might not be able to protect her precious baby from in his life? Oh yes, she certainly has. What Nabokov is getting at here is that love is the craziest and most wonderful adventure we can have on this earth. In joy, in sorrow, in worry, in delight: it is the greatest experience we can possibly have.

I have always been incredibly moved by this passage, but now I understand it in a whole new way. There’s a mystery and a magic in this tiny new person, one that combines parts of both Eric and I, but one that holds its own as yet unseen mystery and magic too. We don’t know what kinds of toys Micah will like or whether he will prefer peas to carrots, what he will want to be when he grows up, how he’ll choose to cut his hair or what kind of style he’ll adopt. Watching all of this take place will be one of the greatest privileges of our lives.

I wrestled a little bit with what to do blog-wise after Micah was born. Although there are a million different ways to share and not share, everyone must make the decision that feels right to them. I respect everyone’s personal choices (and heaven knows I LOVE reading about others’ families!), but I decided, with Eric, that I feel most comfortable keeping this blog private, where I know it will be seen only by friends and family, and will not be publicly searchable. I am thinking not just of Micah the baby, but Micah the toddler and Micah the teenager and Micah the adult. I am trying my best to be respectful of the decisions he is not yet old enough to make. So this feels right to me. And I am so happy to be able to share him with you wonderful people. Thank you for joining us on this new adventure!

Logistics: I’ll be slowly but surely sending invitations to you through WordPress to the email addresses you use to comment here. If you haven’t commented here, but if you know me (including blog and Instagram friends–I love you guys!), please just send me an email at sheisincognita at gmail dot com, and I’ll add you. Hopefully all the kinks will be ironed out in the next few days. Thanks for your patience! What’s next for To Love So? Micah’s birth story and some thoughts on new parenthood (spoiler alert: it’s AWESOME). What’s next for Krug the Thinker? The finished quilt post and a nursery tour (as soon as we get the last few things hung on the walls!) Thank you, thank you, thank you, as always, for being such kind and wonderful people. I so appreciate every single one of you. Sending much love from blissful babyland!

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