Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lila's punk rock quilt (is that an oxymoron?)

I'm pretty happy with my first serious quilting effort. I'm in love with the fabric choices, my blocks came out square and even, and though I didn't do free-motion quilting like I had intended, I like the diagonal lines well enough.

Some details, in case you're interested:

The pattern came from Oh, Franssons! etsy shop. I've been getting invaluable advice and inspiration from her blog (among others I've discovered recently), and I'm pretty excited to be in a real sewing flow.

The quilt is 40" square (perfect for a crib) and alternates five different block styles. All of my fabrics were found on etsy and most come from the Studio E Urban Angel and Essentials lines.

The blanket has a luxurious white dot minky backing, and I used satin blanket edging to bind it instead of the suggested cotton. My grandma says the satin will wear quicker, but it just feels so nice, I had to go with it.

Instead of one of the cute animal appliques suggested, I made two coordinating hearts. I attached them with fabric webbing and then bordered with a blanket stitch. I used an alternating criss-cross design to quilt it, and the stitches go through the top layer and batting only (so the minky is unstitched). And that's pretty much it!

It took me two weeks to cut, sew, quilt, and bind - working in spare minutes here and there (the hour I spent waiting in the Social Security office yesterday was some of my most productive time). I hope Lila likes it; I'd love it if she had tattered scraps of this blanket to take to college with her.

Friday, March 26, 2010

it's done!

I've been working on a quilt for Lila for the past two weeks and tonight I put the final stitches in. I couldn't take a great picture in this evening light, so I'll post one of the whole quilt tomorrow. In the mean time, eat up these pics of my cuties playing with the unfinished work.

Lila seems to think her new quilt is yummy.

What a sweet big brother...

...who likes to make smooshie faces with his lil sis. (She actually enjoyed this a ton.)

Yup. Those are pink skull and cross bones featured prominently in the quilt.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

baby leggings tutorial

Having a baby girl has opened up all kinds of new fashion options for me, and lately I've been in love with baby legs for adding warmth and color choices to Lila's outfits. They make diaper changes easier, and are just plain cute. I ordered a couple home-made pairs on Etsy, and I was really happy with them, but they looked like something I could easily make myself. I made a few pairs and really liked how they turned out, so I thought I'd share with you how I did it:

Baby Leggings Tutorial

First I bought three pairs of knee-high socks with cute designs. If you want a size that won't fall off a newborn, go with girls' size small. If you want one that will last longer into infancy and toddlerhood go with girls' large or adult sizes. I chose girls' sizes since I knew I'd still get a few months use out of them with Lila being so small.

I would wash the socks first, because your fabric might shrink, but I forgot that step and they've turned out fine for me. If you have a quilting set (rotary cutter and mat) you'll get the most precision, but a ruler and scissors will work fine as well.

Lay your socks out flat and cut right at the heel. If you aren't using a rotary cutter, mark the place you'll be cutting so both socks are cut the same length.

Turn socks inside out, fold the cut edge over, and pin. For these leggings I folded my socks twice so that the hem would be clean, but in later efforts I folded once to add length (after sewing just trim the excess). Both options looked nice.

Here's the tricky part. Hem the socks along the line you've pinned. Make sure you've separated the two layers of fabric so you're not sewing the opening closed. Go slowly, and gently pull the fabric apart as you go. I did a knit stitch for these and a hemstitch for later efforts. Both stitches allow for stretching but I like the look of the hemstitch a little more. Repeat with the other sock and you're done! Here's my finished leggings:

And my beautiful model with happy warm legs:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

parenting fail

It was about an hour after River's bedtime and he still showed no signs of slowing when it dawned on me that he still hadn't adjusted to the time change. He stayed up watching Buffy and eating popcorn with us until 10:15 (perhaps not the smartest decision, considering he immediately started complaining of scary noises in his room once we put him back in bed). I didn't hear the conversation that followed since I was busy brushing my teeth, but it must have gone something along these lines:

River: I'm scared. I want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.
Thom: No honey, you should stay in your room.
River: There's scary noises in there. A monster is hiding.
Thom: (looks around room) See, no monsters.
River: No, no. It's hiding in the walls. I want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.
Thom: ...
Thom: Okay, but you have to be quiet and go to sleep.
River: Okay! I'm going to sleep with Mommy!

When I walked out of the bathroom, River was on my side of the bed with his bear and Lila was in her snuggle nest between River and Thom. I squeezed in and River did a little rolling around to get himself comfortable. He was pretty precious. I lay there thinking how nice it was to have my whole family in bed together - my little ones snuggled up warm and sweet. Then 1:30am hit and River had wormed his way horizontal, leaving me crammed against Lila's sleeper and my arm asleep in an uncomfortable angle. I got him situated and fell back asleep. Lila then nursed at 2am and 5am and 6am and by 7:30 it pretty much wasn't worth it to stay there with my adorable, squirmy, snoring, snorting angles.

So, note to self: work on adjusting the kids to the time change a few days before it happens, and, no matter how much you want to see it, don't let your kid watch Buffy (the one with the gigantic scary demon battle) just before bed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

River and Lila News: 35 months/12 weeks

Dear River and Lila,

Is it wrong of me to measure the success of my parenting by how much I get out of the house? By how much you sleep? It feels like my absences from you signify balance in my life, faith that you will be happy without me. Or maybe I'm just neglecting the heck out of you. Either way, I do feel happy. I have been getting out, seeing friends, experiencing the world (more or less), and I don't feel one ounce of guilt for it. Perhaps that's the difference between a first and second-time parent; I can leave you without feeling excruciating pain.

This has come in handy of late since you, River, have started giving up your naps. You fall asleep about every other day, and while you may not need the extra sleep, I'm still waking up at least a couple times before morning to feed your sister and I depend on those moments of peace to function. Without a little down time in the afternoon I turn into a grunting, thrashing Frankenstein. So we've worked out a little compromise: you leave me alone for an hour (if you can't sleep, you read or play by yourself) and I try not to be a gigantic beastie in the afternoon. You're nearly three years old, so while it still tugs at me that you might cause yourself harm or tear down the house, that guilt and worry is not great enough to make me skip my nap.

I suppose there's evidence that you could cause some damage while I sleep. Take an incident from a few weeks ago. You were on a real Tic Tac bend (please don't get me started on how you were even exposed to Tic Tacs), and since they were within your reach on the dining table you were popping them like, well, candy. Before your nap, I put them on top of a 7 ft armoire in the dining room so you couldn't reach them. Silly me to let you see where they were. While I was in my bedroom trying to nap, you started a little project to liberate the Tic Tacs. I could hear a thump, then a few seconds later another one, then another. After about three minutes of listening to you work on something in the dining room I walked out to see you stacking your picture books next to the armoire. I'll admit, I should have worked it out a bit quicker (see above re: sleep deprivation) but it took some probing for me to get it out that you were building yourself a stairway to the Tic Tacs. And you know what I did? Rewarded your cleverness and gave you one. Seriously, if you can engineer your way to something you want, I think that deserves some kind of positive reinforcement. (I may regret that when you've built a time machine in the basement.)

Your ingenuity and cleverness shine through more every day. You are becoming an amazing story teller and have really worked on creating fun scenarios for us to act out. Lots of your story-lines are derived from Richard Scarry books (whose work sometimes make me want to gouge my eyes out, but hey, you love him), and you want us to be firemen or bakers or underwater robots (a River original plotline). You pretty much always have a plan for what games we could play, what activities to do. A few years from now you're going to have a little playground entourage of kids who follow you around and do your bidding. All the other kids will probably find you incredibly bossy and annoying. But that's the price of leadership, I suppose.

As for your language, I can't even say it's "developing" anymore. It's pretty well developed. You grasp so much and your father and I have no need to talk down to you or use small words. If you don't understand a word, you ask what it means. Most of the time you can then use it yourself. Aside from your vocabulary, your syntax is so adult. It's clear that you mimic the way dad and I talk and it makes me crack up when you bust out with, "I sure do like these grapes," or, "So how's it going, uncle Kevin?" You still have a few quirks, but they're fading. I'll be so sad when you no longer say "got-for" instead of "forgot" and "rec-T" instead of "T-Rex." Please stay my little boy a little longer, okay?

And Lila. You are amazing. I couldn't imagine an easier, happier baby. River and I drag you around to playdates, museums, yoga and art classes, and you just take it all in stride. You nap, eat, and play on the road and it doesn't - yet - seem to be a problem.

You like to watch what's going on, and increasingly you like to be held in an upright position. Your neck muscles are getting really strong and soon we'll be able to put you in the bumbo chair where you'll be able to sit up on your own and see the whole room. You still love to watch your brother and, other than a strange fascination with licking your face, he treats you like a princess.

You've started grabbing for toys and you love a good crinkle or bell. You can get objects to your mouth - a washcloth, octopus toy, or your fingers - and you suck away happily. You already have a favorite stuffed animal - a little bear blankie that you smile at and hug close. It pretty much kills me with cuteness. Your eye contact is great, and you give me the most amazing smiles when you first wake up. You love it when I get real close and make google eyes at you and talk silly nonsense. But you don't need constant stimulation. You're great about entertaining yourself, and you've given me ample time to sew and work on craft projects.

We've worked out your evening feeding schedule - it involves a bottle, an early bedtime, and me pumping some - and it seems to be making everyone happy right now. You still sleep incredibly well, and if I nurse you just before I go to sleep you'll sometimes stay down until 5am. To friends without parents that doesn't sound so great, but let me tell you, you would win the gold medal for baby sleep.

You guys are rocking my world right now. I love you both so much and I feel so lucky to be your mom.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Happy Birthday to my man (and lots of other random stuff)

Thirty-seven years ago today, the most amazing man was born. I feel extraordinarily lucky to call him my husband, and I hope we can be together to celebrate another 100 birthdays.

We spent the morning sleeping in (okay, Thom slept in and I got up to turn on cartoons for River and finsh making a cake). It's a chocolate cake with oreo cream filling and chocolate butter cream icing I made from scratch. Been a while since I was this ambitious in the kitchen and I think it will taste great.

After breakfast (egg sandwiches from Petsi Pies) the boys went outside to play while I put the finishing touches on the cake. Then Lila and I joined them. We played pirates who own a paper company and River ran the wood chipper. As you can see, Lila was a totally awesome pirate.

Thom's present from the kids was this painting (they did the feet, I did the heart).

His folks sent some fun T-shirts. The packaging was pretty out of control:

Last night we ventured out to our friend Jonathan's art show at the University Place Gallery. It was quite a lovely party - a beautiful quartet playing and lots of fancy people mingling. Jonathan's work is fantastic and whimsical and he sold three pieces. It was great to see him again after so long.

We took the Banks Street Doyles with us, then followed up with dinner at Fire and Ice. With mobs of people, crazy-hungry-overstimulated boys, and really poor service, it was a dinner not to repeat. I think we've discovered our Friday night ritual of delivery pizza and a rented movie is just perfect.

Tonight the kids will stay home with Megan and the grown-ups get to go out. I think cocktails and a mad hatter will be involved. But for now, River has skipped his nap and Lila's pudgy cheeks are calling to me. Hope you're all having as nice a Saturday as me.