Enjoying the Simple Things

PersimmonsI’ve always found great pleasure in the smallest things–a pretty leaf, a perfectly prepared cup of coffee, fifteen extra minutes of sleep, a really good song (Led Zeppelin, please) on the radio, an unplanned dinner date, the scent of my favorite candle, an hour on the couch with a really good book. But now that free time is a harder thing to come by, a wonderful thing has happened. I love those things even more. Experiencing one of those them now feels like the most delicious reward for hard work, even though this is the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done. I am so fortunate to be able to stay at home with our little one, and I don’t think I have ever been happier. And, true to cliche, I can’t imagine being happy at all without being able to kiss his little cheeks 400 times a day.

I have been wanting to write for a week or so and have been thinking of all kinds of topics and titles, but for now I just want to write down a small smattering of the things that are making me happy. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve mostly been cooking from my own blog for the past few weeks (I know these recipes! And I know where they are!), and it’s made me so happy to find so many posts in my archives, most of which I’d entirely forgotten about. Posts from easy times as well as hard ones, ordinary ones and hey-I’m-halfway-across-the-world ones. This is such a special time, and I don’t want it to go unrecorded here. So here goes.

Natal Plum-Morning is my favorite time of day. Tiny wakes up, and I feed him or rock him or play with him, depending on what he’s in the mood for, and then we FaceTime my mom. Every morning. It is the best. After we get off the phone, he likes to talk to his mobile for a little while, during which time I make coffee and read for a few minutes until he’s ready for a change of pace. Most mornings we watch the sun come up, and he smiles and smiles and smiles. It’s the best.

-On lots of evenings we stroll over to the turtle pond on campus and then swing by to pick up Daddy from work. This is a serious contender for my second favorite part of the day. (Also in the running: the magical days when there’s a LONG nap, and I can not only cook dinner, but also light a candle and read a book. Those days are magic.)

-In general funniness, this afternoon I cleaned out my purse, and I found not one, not two, but four (4) little Ziplock bags of almonds in there. And I laughed. I shall never be without protein!

-This morning at church I got to use my Old Church Slavic to decode the text on an Orthodox icon, and it was awesome. First time I have needed that skill in the wild! (Eric reminds me that I have used it at museums before, but it felt extra special in this case).

-I read my way around the house all day. I have several books my bedside, a few in Tiny’s room, one on the kitchen table, and two or three on the coffee table. I just pick up a book wherever I am, and I love it.

Beauty-Some days we play at home, but I like the days when Tiny and I have an errand to run. I use the bottom of his stroller as a grocery cart, and he likes having new things to look at. (Other things he likes: the light coming in through his shutters, the stained glass windows at church, and his rapidly growing collection of rattles).

-Sometimes naps are timed such that Eric and I can eat dinner together, but if not, we still try to sit at the table and talk through our days. Occasionally I’ll realize that there’s something I’ve forgotten to tell him, but this is probably because I am the person who says, “Oh, by the way, there are clean diapers in the freezer. I mean the fridge. I mean the dryer.” Third time’s the charm!

-On weekends I do meal plans and go to the grocery store(s). I’ve got the one close to our house so fully memorized that I can be in and out in 15 minutes with a whole week’s worth of groceries. This feels like a genuine achievement.

-I am enjoying persimmons so much this year. I don’t remember them being a big part of our fall diet i years past, but this year Eric brought some home from the farmer’s market, and I fell in love. I kind of like the effort required to eat one (um, maybe not so much work, you just have to peel it with a knife), and I like the long curly peels that cover my plate when I finish one.

-Somebody just figured out peekaboo. Like today. There has been a lot of adorable baby laughter around here. And a lot of grown-up laughter too.

-In true new mom fashion, I just remembered that I have an entire series of posts like this one, called A Handful of Happy Things. They’re in the freezer. I mean the fridge. I mean the dryer.

October: Currently

First: thank you all so much for your sweet and thoughtful comments on my last post. Answering comments regularly is still one of the things I’m trying to cram into my days, so I really appreciate your patience! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with me! It’s so wonderful to have your support and encouragement. It means so much to me.

And now, on to October:

Reading about five different books: the new Murakami, my book club book, a book on how kitchens run (ganked from Eric’s library pile), this because it’s awesome and inspiring, and this mystery on my mom’s recommendation. Long live the library!

Watching Top Chef (the last season!) and occasionally a bit of Gilmore Girls, but planning to watch Happy Valley too.

Enjoying taking walks every evening to pick Eric from work.

Appreciating cooler days and breaking out the leggings.

Eating lots of almonds and cottage cheese. Two of my faves.

Scheming and dreaming about all kinds of trips because of the awesomeness of Airfare Watchdog. (No one paid me to say this–it’s just that they find crazy low ticket prices that make my wanderlust-afflicted heart go pitter-patter.)

Lighting a candle when I have some time to read during nap time.

Savoring every cup of coffee like the beautiful gift from heaven it is.

Cooking quinoa and lentils and carrot soup with chickpeas.

Celebrating being able to have a few meals out with Micah’s godparents.

Marveling with Eric over every little new thing Micah does.

Laughing and dancing and making funny faces and generally doing anything that might elicit a gummy baby smile. The best.

Loving my days with Micah, who is not only the cutest baby who ever lived, but also the sweetest.

Feeling so happy and at peace.

The Good Old Days of Blogging

I have seen a few seasoned bloggers talk about the good old days recently–bloggers who have been at it wayyyy longer than I have. (I’ve been here for three years, unless you count a very soft opening in late 2009. By very soft opening I mean starting a blog and then not telling anyone but your mom and your boyfriend about it. Yee-ha!) They were talking about the days before photos and giveaways and sponsorships and social media, the days when blogs were like open journals (and I suppose LiveJournal is probably one of the things they grew out of).

It made me think about my blog and why I write. Truthfully, I haven’t been here very much since Micah was born, not because I don’t have things to say, but because I don’t have projects finished or a chance to take photos of things during daylight hours, and thus I feel like I can’t post. Case in point: I have been wanting to share the nursery (and I will!), but it’s mostly in use during the daytime. Seeing those posts about the good old days reminded me that I can just write without having a project or a trip or even goals to share. I can just write about what my days are like now, or just write to say hi. It reminded me that posts like those are often my favorites on the blogs I read. That was such a good realization. Because I really miss you guys. I’m such a visual person that I still don’t want to put up a post without ANY pictures, but I can easily enough pick something pretty from the archives and set it in place.

It’s interesting too to think about the (often self-imposed) pressures we place on ourselves as bloggers. I am sure this is much harder for people who need to make an income from their blogs. My blog is not monetized (except for that 41 cents I earned once from Amazon’s affiliate program), and I intend to keep it that way. When I feel frustrated about not having time to do the posts that I want to, it’s good for me to remember why I started this blog in the first place: for a creative outlet, to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends, and to make real connections with like-minded people. Those are still very much my reasons for being here, and I have been so fulfilled in all three of them.

Things are slightly more complex for me because I am still sifting through what belongs here and what belongs on Micah’s blog. It honestly makes blogging a lot more complicated, but I think it’s the right thing for me (while fully respecting others’ decisions with regard to this issue). Maybe the truth is that I’m still sorting out the distinctions between me as a person and me as a mom. Micah needs me so much right now, and I would not trade that for the world. I know that I only get so many days of smelling his sweet little head while I rock him. I am sure it will be a little while before I get back to the level of personal projects (and writing) that I had before he was born, but that doesn’t make this time any less special. It probably makes it more special.

What I think I am trying to say is that I’m still figuring it out–how to make time for writing, what to share and not share, and how the prism of who I am has a new facet since I’ve become a mom. I would ask you all to bear with me, but it seems presumptuous to think that anyone’s life is actually disrupted by my not being here every day. Maybe what I should offer instead is a promise to bear with myself as I figure it all out. A promise not to be afraid to write a post without pictures (okay, maybe just one picture). A promise to respect a post that just says hi. Thank you all so much for being here. It’s no exaggeration to say that this wouldn’t be any fun without you!

October 2014 Goals

12610 Clear(ing) Skies_4308440288_lYay, it feels good to be getting back to goal posting! July was the last time I did one, and then August and September were kind of a blur (a happy blur). I keep coming back to these short-term goals (this is the third year I’ve done them) because I still feel giddy about the idea of choosing what fun things I want to fill my free time with. Obviously, my free time is a very different thing now than it was before I had a baby, but that just proves how wonderfully adaptable this whole concept is, which is one of the things I love about it so much. I always want to say, though, that these fun goals are generally separate from work goals–these are not created to put pressure on myself, but to remind me of the good stuff I want to do (because I seem to forget…oh, everything these days). So! I am excited to be compiling another list of the good stuff I hope to fill my month with. (I ended two sentences in this paragraph with a preposition. Color me grammatically lazy. Or maybe just grammatically sleep-deprived.)

Micah is getting bigger and stronger every day (cue mommy tears of pride and nostalgia), and I hope that this month we can get out and do something together as a family. I am not even sure yet what that would be, but a trip to the park or maybe even an early dinner at a non-crowded restaurant would be great. We’ll see if I am brave enough!

When I’m away from my blog, I miss you guys. I miss writing too, but mostly I miss being a part of the great community of friends I have met. So I am hoping to write two blog posts a week this month, either here or on Micah’s blog. So far, so good!

I have been really longing to break out my knitting or my cross-stitch or my scrapbooking these days. I’ve almost finished cleaning off my craft table (no small feat), so I am hoping to take advantage of it soon. Of course, I don’t need a craft table for knitting or cross-stitch. Just a cup of tea and a British mystery series to watch.

I have been scrambling to finish my book for book club (huzzah, made it just under the wire), but it’s really the first reading I’ve done since Micah was born. I am excited to read a book that Hillary lent me–a memoir of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I so love books about big adventures like these.

I miss walking (which is, ironically, the theme we’re exploring in our book club), and not just because I got a Fitbit and now regularly spend 15 minutes walking in circles around the living room before bed in order to hit my target for the day. Getting outside is so restorative to me, but it has just been too hot to take the baby out during the day. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees again this weekend, but I hope that after that, summer will die a graceful death, so I can get back outside. I will gladly accept 80-degree weather! Do you hear me, fall?!

Eric and I were lucky enough to be able to go out to dinner when my parents were here and when his parents were here, but it’s been a little while now, with some busy work weeks for Eric, so I am really looking forward to going on a date again. I only have ten or twelve different restaurants I want to try. I blame Top Chef!

Taking tons of pictures is a permanent goal, but it has taken on a new dimension now. I take hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pictures a month, but they’re pretty much all of Micah. That is not at all a bad thing, but I am looking forward to being able to take more pictures of flowers and trees and sunsets like I used to. This goal, like the walking one, is weather-dependent. Come on, fall!

I’ll be back in November with an update. July goals have been updated here. And here are my goals from October 2012 and October 2013.

Update, November 2014: Woot, we went so many places this month! The library, church, out to eat several times, and to visit a few friends. Car trips are definitely becoming more of the norm, and they go pretty smoothly as long as we pack well and do our best to avoid overtiring the baby. I think the next step is for me to get comfortable taking him places by myself in the car. Drawbacks: that carseat is heavy, and…I fear incessant screaming! But maybe next month. Until then, thank heaven for the stroller. I can only laugh at the blog post goal. However! I have four drafts in my dashboard, so that has to count for something. I did get a little bit of crafting in! Even a few minutes with my cross-stitch is so nice. I read so many books this month! Maybe five? Maybe this is why I failed to get into a walking routine? I can still blame the weather on that one, though, since this is the summer that will not go quietly into that good night. I did take lots of pictures (and need to steal the ones from Eric’s camera too), but alas, we did not go on a date, unless you count laughing together at 4 in the morning at Micah cooing and kicking his legs in his crib. That kind of date has a special kind of charm:) But at least I know we’ll be able to get away for a quick dinner in December, when we’ll have family in town. Hurray! For the family and the date.

4th Trimester Fashion

4th Trimester FashionI first heard of the 4th trimester in our childbirth class–that first three months of life when a baby is most comforted by the sensations of the womb. But there’s a 4th trimester for moms too, as we’re getting the hang of things, adjusting to a new schedule, and suddenly finding ourselves no longer pregnant, but not exactly the same shape or size we were before. I have lost a good bit of weight from my pregnancy, but I still have a ways to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy size. It’s not really a number that I’m hung up on, it’s just that…I’m cheap, and I don’t want to buy all new clothes! I do have great hope of being able to wear my old clothes, but I’m lucky in that it’s still hot here, and I can wear loose dresses for a little while before I have to think about cramming myself back into my jeans. I have mostly been wearing loose and comfy clothes around the house, but I am just starting to feel ready to wear something that might rightly be considered an outfit. My strategy is to buy a few things here and there to serve as transitional pieces, and, happily, most of these things are stretchy and forgiving and can be worn even when I am back at my pre-pregnancy weight. I sort of jokingly thought of this as “4th trimester fashion,” but I thought it would be fun to do a little style shoot, since I haven’t done one in ages.

4th Trimester FashionI think leggings are postpartum strategy 101 for most women, but I’ve never had a pair that fits well. Until half-off day at my favorite thrift store! I also got this top there, but it’s actually a dress. A really short dress! Before now, I would never have considered buying something so short, but now…leggings to the rescue. (Please note someone’s cute feet sticking out there.) These shoes are also new, and they are so comfy. I am always hunting for the world’s most perfect flat. I like the copper color, and, of course, the fact that they are shiny.

4th Trimester FashionMy favorite thing about this top, besides the color, is the open back. There’s a whole slew of things I can never wear, including strapless, spaghetti straps, and open-backed tops and dresses, so I was so excited to find a dress with an open back that actually works for me. Someone finally figured out to leave the bottom half of the back open, and I’d like to shake their hand.

4th Trimester FashionThis necklace is basically my favorite of all time. It’s a globe (that actually spins!) with a little pair of binoculars attached.

4th Trimester FashionIt felt really good to dress up a bit (and wear my new lipstick!), even though we were just taking the baby for a Saturday afternoon walk. When we decided to go, I went into our room to change out of my mom uniform, and when I came back out, Eric did a double take and said, “Wow!” It was the best compliment I could have received. I’ve got the two sweetest boys in the world.

One Little Word: Nine Months of Nurture

Mid-September seems like as good a time as any to write your first post on your word for the year, doesn’t it? Oh good, I thought so too! This is the third year I have chosen a word (2012: grateful, 2013: open), and I love how each time it’s a different experience. Last year I did a pretty extensive course on it, but this year my word has been woven into my life in a more constant way. It’s a daily reminder, and it’s one I really need. It’s been fun to look back at these past nine months and see the progression of what this word has meant to me.

In January, February, and about half of March, I was sick sick sick with my pregnancy. Nurturing myself meant spending every single day on the couch and trying not to move too much, since that made me even more nauseous. It meant trying every single nausea relief trick I could find, even though none of them worked. It meant living on crackers, bread, and seltzer water until I could keep anything else down. It meant not having any expectations of myself. It meant watching so much tv, some of it so embarrassingly bad. It meant surviving.

It also meant taking my vitamins and doing my best to send my love to my tiny baby.

In the spring I felt SO MUCH BETTER and was able to start nurturing in different ways. My husband and I took a few last “just us” trips. I walked several miles every day and got back to my regular beans/greens/grains style of eating. I could feel Micah kicking away, and I told him how much I loved him all the time. I also slept SO much. And I am glad I did!

By the summer, nurturing moved on to the nursery, where we were organizing, decorating, and putting furniture together (okay, that last one was Eric only, but one gets a halo for every piece of Ikea furniture one puts together, so I am sure he didn’t mind collecting a handful of them). I spent the rest of my time reading books to prepare for labor and getting emotionally ready for this big, wonderful, happy change in our lives.

And then one night in July I nurtured myself by taking labor one contraction and one push at a time until I was holding our sweet son. It was the best day of my life.

Suddenly there were whole new realms of nurturing to explore. I learned, and continue to learn, how to take the best care of Micah, to meet his needs, and to encourage his growth. And, of course, to shower him with love and kisses every single day. If you saw his cute little cheeks, you wouldn’t be able to stop kissing them either.

Parenting has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I’ve loved being able to nurture Eric as a father, but also as my husband. Taking time (or making time!) for our relationship has been a joy (if also a challenge!), and one I look forward to keeping up for the rest of our lives.

And nurturing has also taken on new meanings for me. It meant taking it easy during my (thankfully easy) recovery. It means taking naps when I can. It means not expecting to cook dinner every night or have the house spotless (hahaha!). It means doing my very best to be present in each moment with our son, and in each moment when he is asleep and I’m on my own.

I feel like I turned a corner when Micah was about five weeks old. “Hey,” I thought, “I could actually do something.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy–I wouldn’t trade those newborn days for anything. I just was starting to feel like I might be able to get back to doing some of the things I enjoyed doing before he was born. I talked to (the ever-supportive) Eric about it, and I made a list of fun things to do during naptime or before bed. Things like painting and journaling and reading and blogging. And then, in true Cameronian fashion, I…tried to do them all at once! This was really stressful for a few days, and then pretty hilarious. The ability to laugh at oneself can never be overrated.

Now nurturing myself means taking it one thing at a time, and enjoying the slow pace. It means embracing the time that I do have. It means being patient with myself as I lose the baby weight (not a huge preoccupation, but I would like my clothes and my rings to fit again one day!). It means taking one million pictures of my baby because I don’t want to forget anything about these precious days.

But even throughout the happy roller coaster ride of this year, there are some things about this word that haven’t changed at all, and I love that. It’s still essentially about love, of myself and of others. It’s still about being patient and present. It’s still about living every day to the fullest. It’s still a fantastic word.

On New Parenthood

At the risk of jinxing ourselves, I think we are getting the hang of this new parent thing. Eric and I were laughing the other day about how we’ve become parent ninjas. As soon as the baby’s down for a nap, we dash off to start the laundry/load the dishwasher/check our email/take a shower/make the bed. Okay, that last one was just a joke to see if you were paying attention. Ain’t nobody making the bed around here. Ain’t nobody complaining about it either.

In those first days at home, Eric asked me what I was most surprised by about being a mom so far. (He can always be counted on to ask sweet and thoughtful questions like this). I told him first that it was hard in a way that you can’t appreciate until you’re actually living it. Not impossible hard, and not even unhappy hard, but just challenging, mostly in the sleep deprivation arena. It reminded me of how I understood intellectually that morning sickness and labor were going to be hard, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got there. Happily, we are already sleeping an awful lot more than we did in those first weeks, but I’ll tack on an addendum: I have been surprised by how quickly you adjust to your new normal in terms of sleep. I always wondered how I would manage that, since an hour of tossing and turning in the night used to all but wreck my day. Now, six hours of sleep is my personal heaven, and I get a few naps in during the day while Micah is sleeping too. It’s awesomely manageable!

I also said that I couldn’t believe it was so much fun already. He said the same. Eric is a happy person, but I have never seen such delight in him as when he is with our son. It is amazing to watch. I’ll be down the hall putting clothes in the dryer and I’ll hear him giggling away at something Micah has done. And there are new sweet and funny things he does nearly every day.

I’d likewise add that all those parenting cliches are so, so true. It turns out that there is nothing better than holding a sleeping baby or being the recipient of a baby smile. Your whole heart is outside your body now, swaddled and lightly snoring in his crib. You can’t, in fact, imagine your life without this tiny perfect creature. I’ve never ever loved cliches this much.

And I love that we have retained the playfulness of our relationship, even while juggling so much new responsibility. The first couple of days, as we were adjusting to a new (lack of!) schedule and worrying about whether or not our baby was eating/sleeping/pooping enough, most of our conversations took place with furrowed brows and concerned expressions. As we got the hang of things, though, laughter crept right back into our lives. What you really need, I think, when you are entering a whole new world, is someone who can make you laugh, someone who can remind you that you are still you, even as you step into a demanding new role.

I have been really happy to find that my favorite things about our marriage have carried over into parenthood. We each truly want what is best for the other, and we find joy in being kind to each other. We communicate so well, and we are so good at asking each other for help when we need it. I feel like these last six weeks have shown us parts of each other that we never saw before. One night I was having trouble calming Micah, and Eric took him in his arms and said, “Here, Micah, come see your Daddy,” and I just stood there and cried, the happiest of tears.

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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...